I have the fabulous Roxy Boroughs guest blogging today about creating emotions that you’ve never experienced yourself. I love Roxy – I love her spirit, her heart, her character and her writing. Once you discover her – you’ll love her too!
Single mom, Maggie Holmes, is a by-the-book cop, until her seven-year-old asthmatic son, Davie, is kidnapped.
That’s the premise for my romantic suspense novel, A STRANGER’S TOUCH. And, when it came to writing it, right off the bat, I knew I’d given myself a huge challenge.
Because I don’t have any children.
I can imagine those intense feelings of love and protectiveness for a child – I witnessed them in my parents’ love for me – but I’ve never experienced any of that firsthand. So I had no idea how it would feel to have my precious son ripped from me.
My writer friends suggested I read other novels depicting child abduction to help me with my own book. But I didn’t want to use fiction, no matter how well written, as an example. I wanted to get as close to the actual feelings as I could. THE EMOTION THESAURUS wasn’t published at the time, which would have been a great help. Instead, I picked up several autobiographical books to lead me on my journey.
I’d watched John Walsh on TV and knew something of his history. In TEARS OF RAGE, he describes the kidnapping and murder of his six-year-old son, Adam, in heartbreaking detail.
I also read, Mike Echols’ I KNOW MY FIRST NAME IS STEVEN, the story of Steven Stayner, who was abducted as a young boy and held captive for seven years before he escaped. It contains quotes from Stayner, recounting the ordeal in his own words. (As a side note, Steven’s brother Cary turned out to be a serial killer!)
I added other books to my list, but these two really made my heart ache. As I read, I took notes. Any time there was an emotional or a visceral response, I’d jot it down verbatim.
When it came time to do the writing, I’d read the quotes and use an acting technique to ‘internalize’ the emotions. In other words, I imagined how I would feel in the situation – as the parent and as the little boy – and came up with my own ways to describe it. As in this scene with the heroine, which takes place in the first few hours after the abduction.
Maggie sat alone in the Police Inspector’s office – the room that, up until three years ago, had belonged to her father.
She clutched the arm of the leather sofa with both hands, trying to keep from exploding. She felt hot, stifled, trapped inside her uniform, but her fingers were numb from cold. The smell of stale coffee wafted by and she almost retched. She was quietly losing her mind, yet, all around her, the downtown Calgary police station functioned normally.
She looked out of the narrow windows that framed Owens’ office on either side of the door. Officers were busy at their jobs, people were talking, some even laughing. Their lives were going on, while hers had…
She blocked out the word. She wouldn’t think about it. Couldn’t let herself. She had to hang on. Stay in control. Fight against the weight of fear pressing on her chest as it slowly squeezed the life from her.
It’s interesting to note that two other authors from my local writers’ chapter – Louise Behiel and, my host, Steena Holmes – both wrote stories involving child abduction around the same time as me, though completely independent of one another. It was only when we all published our novels this year that I saw the connection. All three stories are surprisingly diverse, each with its own emotional perspective of the crime and its aftermath.
I continue to read autobiographies and firsthand accounts. Not only do they give me exposure to a variety of people from various walks of life, those books help me understand the thoughts and feelings of others, which enriches my world and my writing.
And I now own a copy of THE EMOTION THESAURUS, which is always at hand, right by my desk.
Before turning her attentions to writing, Roxy tread the boards as a performer, appearing in theatres across North America, TV commercials, and movies. Her award-winning novel A STRANGER’S TOUCH, as well as its sequel, A STRANGER’S KISS, is now available through Amazon.com.
“Roxy Boroughs has it all – humor, suspense, and the kind of raw emotion that makes romantic suspense worth reading. This genre has a bright new star.” Lecia Cornwall author of Secrets of A Proper Countess, an RT Reviewers Choice nominee.