Cornfields, a Crush, and a Country Heroine

IsabelleDrakeHeadShotA bit about me:

I live in a small rural community in Michigan. I’m surrounded by cornfields and take dirt roads to my day job where I’m a writing professor. Teaching writing is intellectually satisfying and gives me a change to indulge my serious, thoughtful side. My other side, my curious, wayward wandering side, loves to travel, explore, and try most anything once. It’s that rambling side that helps me get ideas and inspiration for stories. I travel whenever I get the chance and welcome chances to visit museums, try out hiking trails, and people watch at festivals–whatever there is to do, I’m in.

I suppose I have two sides to my personality–the light-hearted and the serious. Which side do I depend on to write? The serious. The work side of the writing doesn’t look glamorous or sound exciting but I know to make readers happy I need to be committed to delivering a realistic yet satisfying read. Since I value it, I admire other writers who are also dedicated to detail and the creation of dynamic characters. So when I come across someone who approaches their work that way–and has charm–a crush is bound to follow.

One of my writer crushes is Joe Gannon. I first met Gannon in Boston while I was working on my MFA in Creative Writing. He and I were both working on novels set in Nicaragua. How random is that? I know, very. So we had something in common right away. The character in my story was hyper-critical, wounded and in some ways not likeable but Gannon understood her and cheered for her despite her often snarky attitude.

That’s the thing about Gannon, he appreciates complex female characters. That isn’t always the case with male writers. Too often, they create ‘girlfriends’ ‘wives’ ‘mothers’ or ‘sisters.’ These cardboard cut-out type women characters drive me crazy. I don’t understand why a man would want to invite uninteresting, story-dulling people into their work. Now that I think of it, I ought to have a crush on William Shakespeare because his female characters are awesome. Joe Gannon’s work isn’t as widely read as Shakespeare’s–yet. But it will be. Curious? Check out Night of the Jaguar. In this 2014 novel from Minotaur, you’ll find some genuine but vibrant female characters at the center of his gritty thriller.

Gannon is a notable writer that creates dynamic women characters; that’s all the reason I need for a writer crush. And, well, the fact that he invited me to share a bottle of champagne with him one night might have something to do with it too.

Thank goodness character’s have crushes as well. The heroine in my most recent story, Unfinished Business, is trying to pretend her deep attraction is only a crush and nothing more. She’s left her small town, running away from a very public, devastating secret that threatens to tear her new life in the city apart. The closer to she gets to admitting her feelings are more than a crush, the closer she gets to exposing that devastating secret.

IsabelleDrakeCoverHere’s a bit about Unfinished Business:

She ran away from the town that wouldn’t forget, to a city that doesn’t forgive, right into the arms of the guy who insists she set things right.

Less than a year ago, Hayley Jones made a scandalous decision that sent her packing. She left her country hometown, moved to the city and made a new life for herself. But it’s hard being someone else when the real you has some unfinished business.

Hayley knows taking care of the unresolved piece of her past could stir up more trouble and humiliation, so she dodges the truth and puts her energy into her new friends and job. That strategy works for a short while but people from her past start showing up in her present.

Life gets even more complicated when she realizes she’s falling for Nick Noel, a guy who knows she’s running from something, and continually challenges her to be herself. But Hayley is afraid of what will happen if Nick finds out who she really is and what she did back home.

Thanks for having me today!

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