Madeline Ash discusses the flaws in her character Abby.
None of us are perfect. We all have flaws and things about ourselves we wish we could change. I certainly wish I wasn’t so pedantic about being on time, and in my latest contemporary romance, Love & Other Lies, the heroine Abby wishes that she had never been a compulsive liar.
But wishing doesn’t change facts. It takes work to better ourselves, and Abby has worked painstakingly hard for the past couple of years to stay honest. When her lies tore her life apart, she made a fresh start in a small Australian town, keeping to herself and hurting no one. She ordered herself to only speak the truth – something I realised is very difficult while writing her dialogue! No exaggeration, no white lies … she even has to be careful with banter, as it often involves fiction or falsehoods for the sake of a laugh. But she manages to stay true, all the while fearing that she could lapse at any moment.
‘If you want to start a new life,’ said Jenny, who ran the cafe. ‘Isn’t it best to leave the past behind?’
Abby had held her breath until the burn in her lungs reminded her that she was alive and human and couldn’t bear any more pain. Then she’d said, honestly, ‘No’.
She laid the truth bare. It would hold her in check.
Abby is the first character I’ve written with a morally dubious past. I felt that she could only be redeemed if readers accepted (and sympathised with) her motivation for lying in the first place. No one, including myself, would want to read about her if she’d just lied for kicks.
To clarify, a compulsive liar can’t help but lie. Their brain has been trained to lie automatically, even if there is no gain. This differs from pathological lying, where lying is a strategy.
So I strove to give her a strong backstory, along with a catalyst for her mental state. It doesn’t excuse her past behavior, or justify it, but it gives an insight to her character to explain why it all started.
She struggles to trust herself, especially when a sexy sweetheart arrives in town and decides to pursue her. An honourable man is the last person she wants showing interest in the mess of her soul. He deserves so much better. Pity he doesn’t plan on going anywhere!
No one’s perfect. But most of us try to be the best version of ourselves, and I believe that a character struggling to be honest and good, well, she deserves a happily ever after as much as the faultless heroines out there. What do you think?
Small town vet Abby Benson has fled to the country to put her shameful past behind her. She’s just beginning to find her feet again when handsome stranger, Rue Thorn, arrives in town and begins to stir things up. Rue is gorgeous, kind and thoughtful and the two share an instant attraction. But convinced he’ll despise her if he learns about her history, Abby reluctantly keeps him at arms length.
Determined to win Abby over, Rue tries to reshape himself as the sort of guy he thinks she might be interested in. And for a while it seems his act is working. But when he finds out that Abby has been lying to him, it isn’t long before everything start to unravel …
A moving story of trust, forgiveness and the power of love from the author of Uncovered by Love and The Playboy’s Dark Secret.
Living in Melbourne, Madeline Ash is emotionally allergic to spontaneity, yet doesn’t mind the weather that drags her into rain when she has planned for sunshine. Her colleagues generally introduce her as The Writer, and Madeline quite enjoys the mystery that hides in such a title (cloaked, puffing a pipe, hunched madly over a typewriter). Writer of contemporary romance novels with humour, sensitivity, and the hot tug of attraction.