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Behind the Story:

Spare Me the Drama

 

This story was such a treat for me to write. I hope you’ll say the same when you read it. Here are a few bits of trivia from behind the scenes. Enjoy!

 

 

Soap Dish

The American daytime drama, aka soap opera, that dying television staple for over a half-century, provides the backdrop for much of the story. References to real-life shows pop up here and there, like a long-lost, presumed-dead denizen of Genoa City or Pine Valley.

Can you spot the nods to this fading TV genre? Here are a few:

I’ll Give You Tomorrow – I confess, my soap-watching days were spent on ABC’s lineup. The title of my novel’s defunct fictional soap is a nod to One Life to Live. Fans may remember this line from the show’s opening theme song in the ’80s. You can listen to it here.

Freddy and Damian – I once heard that General Hospital was going to kill off Luke Spencer in the early days after he raped Laura. Fans will remember that he was working for mob boss Frank Smith and, as a loyalty test, was supposed to assassinate Mitch Williams, gubernatorial candidate and husband of Tracy Quartermaine, on election night. Luke’s partner in crime was Roy DeLuca, his sister Bobbie’s boyfriend. Luke was supposed to end up dead that night, only the actor playing Roy DeLuca landed some job on a prime time show and was leaving GH, so the powers that be decided to keep Luke instead and kill off the Roy DeLuca character. And that’s what ended up happening on screen.

One astute book reviewer did pick up on it. Even though Spare Me the Drama wasn’t her cup of tea, the fact that she made the connection made my day.

Don’t know if the behind-the-scenes stuff is true, but it made a great plot point for my character Martin. You can see the scene here where Laura tosses Luke’s keys off the cliff, preventing Luke from carrying out his mission. (Dig those ’70s wheels.)

After The Loving — Yep, after the Engelbert Humperdinck song, “After the Lovin’.” It’s cheesy. That’s what I was going for.

Lindsay Parker — In Chapter 3, Martin’s daughter Stephanie claims that Lindsay Parker, the flirtatious divorcee at church, made a vow never to speak to Martin again because he had the daughter of her favorite ATL couple killed off in a drunk driving accident. I remember when they did this to Tom Cudahy and Brooke English’s daughter, Laura, on All My Children. It helped drive them apart for good (I believe they were estranged at the time), and I loved them together. Brooke was a fixture on that show until nearly the end of its run, and, like her nemesis, Erica Kane, had many husbands and love interests, but I always loved her best with Tom.

In my novel, Martin, the hero, reflects that soap viewers are a loyal lot that has a hard time forgiving and never forgets. What were your favorite soap characters and stories? How did you feel done wrong by the writers? What moments did you never forgive or forget? Tell me in the comments.

Always room for one more

 

Right away I saw Martin and Jeanie as having a lot of love to spread around. That’s why I gave them so many kids and so many strays. It wasn’t until I delved deeper and deeper into the story that the comic and dramatic possibilities for all of them abounded. Like childless, single Roxanne, I, too, managed the kids best by dividing them into groups.

Spare Me Cover

How I named the characters

Martin — First initial same as someone in real life who helped inspire the character (No, I won’t say who!). Plus it has a quietness to it. Originally, the working title of the book was St. Martin. I’ve never known a raucous Martin.

Jeanie — ethereal, connotations of I Dream of Jeanie (the TV show or the song). Also, this name is perfectly believable for someone born in the generation she’s supposed to belong to (early Gen X). You don’t see a lot of Emmas, Taylors or Madisons there.

Bob Hackett — the ax-wielding TV programming executive. Strictly for a punch line. Maybe a little too on the nose (pun intended).

Lana — What would it be like growing up/being a little kid with an adult name like that?

Raquel — I never realized until after I’d named Lana that I’d inadvertently given these children the names of two famous Hollywood bombshells.

Roxanne — Xes are sexy, with perhaps V close behind when it comes to consonant sounds in names. That’s what I was looking for something with an unusual consonant sound for my heroine, which I thought would make it sound sexy.

Natalia — She’s a Christmas baby. An added plus: her nickname, Nat, echoes the insect “gnat,” and she’s definitely an irritant to her sister Stephanie.

Stephanie — Ah, good ol’ Steph. An upstart/troublemaker name to my mind. Think Princess Grace’s rebellious daughter (if you’re old enough, LOL.)

Herbie — juxtaposition of a character who has a cool job (rock star) with a geeky name. Plus, he’s bald.

Bob Hackett — the ax-wielding TV programming executive. Strictly for a punch line. Maybe a little too on the nose (pun intended).

Sister, Sister

One of the most rewarding relationships to write was that of Natalia and Stephanie. I don’t have a sister, but I’ve observed lots of them in real life. It’s a bond I plan to plumb in more stories.

In Spare Me the Drama, the two girls do, to some extent, follow traditional archetypes. Nat is the older, responsible, if uptight, achiever. As the second daughter, Steph has less responsibility thrust upon her. She shirks and chafes at that which she must bear, goofing off and mouthing off, and would rather be free, and most importantly, allows herself to be free. It’s that “getting away with it” that Nat resents about Steph. But when push comes to shove, these two will have each other’s backs, as you will see in future stories as they—and their foster sister, Erin—enter the world of adulthood and find romances of their own!

Are you a sister with a sister? And if so, are you more of a Nat or a Steph? Share in the comments. I’d love to know!


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