I’m surprised by the question every time I hear it. Do people think I have lived in an emotional vacuum all these years? I have traveled all over the United States, and dated men that I would never have met if I’d married my high school sweetheart. A lot of these men have already shown up in my writing. Joseph, the hero in The Reluctant Debutante, is half American Indian. I lived in Arizona for over a year, and had contact with many an Indian there. Have you noticed all the English men in my books are either cads or buffoons? Coincidence? I think not. I’ve always been a sucker for a man with an accent. My motorcycle-riding guy from high school shows up in my latest contemporary, due out early next year. The pig from Vermont who broke Emily’s heart in my debut contemporary, Blame It On The Brontes? His name was…well, never mind. I’ve yet to figure out how to use my Hawaiian surfer, but sooner or later, he’ll find his way into the pages of one of my books.
None of these life experiences would have been possible if I’d married right out of high school and stayed in Ohio all these years. But, occasionally over the years, I’ve asked myself the question why I never could commit to just one guy. I could never figure out the answer.
Until yesterday. My gas oven quit working on me, and with Thanksgiving around the corner, I had to get it fixed. Turkeys don’t cook well on top of the stove, and I’m not about to burn the house down while trying one of those turkey fryer contraptions. The repairman came out, laid down on my kitchen floor and whacked my oven’s inner workings with a pair of pliers. The gas flame kicked on, finally. I jokingly asked him if I had to give it a whack every time I wanted to cook something. He found my humor less than funny, and replied, with a straight face I might add: “Your igniter is not working.”
I nearly choked. You don’t tell a romance writer her igniter isn’t working!
But then I realized that was the answer I’ve been searching for over the years. I can begin a relationship with a hot, scorching flame. But sooner or later, it levels off, and then shuts down for a few minutes. When it’s time to get hot again, the igniter is supposed to kickstart itself and once more, the flame burns brightly. But, if your igniter is broken, the flame doesn’t come back on, and the oven eventually gets stone cold.
Who would have guessed that getting a simple home improvement done would result in the answer to one of my world’s most puzzling questions?