Wonder Boi Writes

8 weeks till To LoveLife – Meet Elaine

I know last time I said it was 6 weeks till LoveLife came out. Guess what?  I’m bad at math.  Sorry! No one’s more bummed about the extra wait than me.  I am going crazy waiting for this book to hit the shelves.  Sadly, I can’t speed up the process, but I can introduce you to Elaine.

Elaine’s looks were easy for me. I had them picked out before I met the character. I found her in the Eddie Bauer catalog and started cutting out pictures of her for a character board months before I started LoveLife. She’s classy and very nordic with long, wavy blonde hair. She’s elegantly lean with long, graceful limbs and a slow smile. She could appear comfortable on a yoga mat or in a tailored business suit. Best of all, she’s got these pale blue eyes that stop you in your tracks. It was really her eyes that slayed me. Sound like anyone who’s been mentioned on this blog a time or two? Yeah, Susie pointed out writing the Eddie Bauer girl will sound very much like I was writing Diane, but what could I do? Elaine is who she is, and in some ways it felt fitting she and Diane had something in common even before I met them.

Personality wise, Elaine is a classic femme in that she really strung me along beautifully. She never fully revealed herself, but always allowed me to tease out the information I needed the minute I needed it. From my earliest meeting with Diane, I knew this character would be a life coach, and a very dedicated one at that (because if the life coach isn’t really serious about her job she’s got no reason not to jump right into bed with Joey). Making her introverted, reflective, and cautious made her a good foil to Joey’s emotive, reactionary, boiness and also fit the life coach model I was working with. I mean the only life coach I knew was all of those things, so just of course that was my model.

She even came with a theme song that stayed with her all the way through.  “Wonder” by Natalie Merchant.

All done, right? Wrong.

Looks like Diane, acts like Diane, same job as Diane, anyone see a problem with this?  Elaine deserved to be her own person with the same depth and originality as Joey. And what’s more, a characters’ looks, job, and basic personality aren’t really their essence. The heart of a character is her central conflict.

I drove home from Buffalo fixated on Elaine, wondering what drove her, what events had shaped her, what held her back (why was such an awesome woman still single?) and how would falling in love with Joey transform her? While pondering the great mysteries of her life and listening to RENT (as one does while pondering great mysteries), I heard this great bit of song dialogue.

Roger: Mark has got his work, they say “Mark lives for his work” and “Mark’s in love with his work.” Mark hides in his work
Mark: From what?
Roger:From facing your failure, facing your loneliness facing the fact you live a lie. Yes, you live a lie. Tell you why
you’re always preaching not to be numb when that’s how you thrive. You pretend to create and observe when you really detach from feeling alive.
Mark: Perhaps it’s because I’m the one of us to survive.

In my mind “Mark” got replaced by “Elaine” and some how it fit. I couldn’t see a master plan. As I mentioned my femmes keep me on a strictly need-to-know basis, but “You’re always preaching not to be numb when that’s how you thrive. You pretend to create and observe when you really detach from feeling alive,” was bold enough to get me started down the path of thinking this smart, observant, life coach had something so much deeper behind her impeccable professional facade. It told me her job was more than an incidental plot point, and her reserve was more than a surface level trait.  I suspected everything I knew about her was merely a symptom of some greater reason to “detach from feeling alive.” The very things that make her so wonderful would also make up her central conflict.

It wasn’t everything I needed to know but it was more than enough to hook me.  I hope it’s enough to hook you, too.


February 9, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. very nice work, Rach. You clearly dug deeper and made these characters your own.
    Can’t wait !

    Comment by Barrett | February 9, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks Barrett! I can’t wait for you to meet her.

      Comment by rachelspangler | February 9, 2012 | Reply

  2. Wow. After reading about Elaine’s character, I’m really going to enjoy finding out what it was that led her to “detach from feeling alive”. It sounds like a great book. Lots of layers and angst that I just know you will resolve beautifully. 8 weeks? Darn. Well, it will have to stay on my TBR list a little longer. That’s OK. Anticipation can be a good thing. Thanks for letting us get to know the characters ahead of time and your process in their creation. It is fascinating.

    Comment by Karen Wolfer | February 9, 2012 | Reply

  3. Karen, I’m so glad you’re looking forward to meeting her. She kept me waiting a long time to see her fully. I know I’m biased but I think she’s worth waiting for 🙂

    Comment by rachelspangler | February 9, 2012 | Reply

  4. you had me at ‘Elaine’


    Comment by mrs lynchly | February 13, 2012 | Reply

  5. […] Rachel Spangler posted 8 weeks till To LoveLife – Meet Elaine. […]

    Pingback by Link Round Up « The Lesbrary | February 15, 2012 | Reply

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