Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Real Life Makes ‘Real’ Stories By Marie Wells Coutu

Marie Wells Coutu
Remember your first day at a new job? Did you have to work with someone who resented you being there, and maybe even tried to get you fired? Perhaps that person had wanted your job, or simply disliked you.

We even see this common situation in the TV series Downton Abbey. The intrigue “downstairs” among the Downton servants is not unlike what some of us have encountered in today’s business world. That’s why a similar situation found its way into my newest novel, Thirsting for More.

Bringing the biblical story of the “Woman at the Well” to life in a modern setting required that the lead character feel like an outcast. The woman whom Jesus met came to the well in the heat of the day because the “respectable” women in her village did not accept her. I recalled the uncertainties of being new on a job and realizing that a coworker felt threatened by me, and I knew many readers could relate to that situation.

Moving—several times—to new communities has also led to feeling left out. Different regions of the country have unique patterns of speech, customs, and behavior. While it’s rare these days for an entire community to ostracize a new resident, some people are unwilling to accept the newcomer who doesn’t have “history” in their town. I included that element in this story—my heroine has moved from the North to the “Deep South” city of Charleston for her new job. And prejudices against “outsiders” show up.

Remodeling and restoring old houses has long been a passion for my husband and me. Over the years, we have “fixed up” more than a dozen houses. Turning a neglected house into a “showplace” reminds us that no building is beyond saving if the foundation is solid. So I decided that my heroine would buy and restore an old house. Since old houses have their own surprises, this provided context for some additional crises that she would face.

“Actual situations are changed to protect the innocent,” as they say, but taking past events from your own life enables you to identify with your characters. I try to recall the emotions I had at the time and incorporate those into the story. It’s my hope readers will find something in that character’s situation that they, too, can identify with.

How have you incorporated your own past experiences into your novels? Were you able to recall your emotions from that time and use them to deepen your character and your story?

About the Author
Thirsting for More
by Marie Wells Coutu
Marie Wells Coutu began telling stories soon after she learned to talk. At age seven, she convinced neighborhood kids to perform a play she had written. She wrote her first book, “I Came from Venus,” in eighth grade, but studied journalism in college. After a career writing for newspapers, magazines, governments, and nonprofits, she returned to her first love—writing fiction—at the age of fifty-five. For Such a Moment, winner of the Books of Hope contest, is her debut novel. Recently retired from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, she and her husband now divide their time between Florida and Iowa, where they can be closer to their two children and three (soon to be four) grandchildren.

Thirsting for More
... she closed her eyes to this real-life nightmare.

The whole city of Charleston seems to be watching, waiting for Northern transplant and recently hired director of tourism, Victoria Russo, to either work a miracle or to stumble and fall. But she hadn't expected the cold reception and the deception she's experiencing, especially from her assistant director.

The change of geography is a chance for multi-divorced Victoria to start a new life. Hoping to gain acceptance, she purchases and tackles the renovation of an historic home, but soon falls back into her old ways.

In this modern-day version of the woman at the well, will Victoria find the one friendship that can change her world or will she return to the place where her past failures lurk around every turn and keep her thirsting for something--or Someone--she cannot find?

Print: ISBN-13:978-1-938092-80-0, Digital: ISBN-13: 978-1-938092-81-7