Author - Nina Cordoba
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10/8/2013 4:25:38 PM

Torturing Chris

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Nina


 

 

 

(I’m not doing a big spoiler alert because what I’m talking about happens in the prologue of the book, which can be read in the sample by anyone. However, if you don’t want to know ANYTHING about Always Dreaming of You before reading it, stop reading now.)


There’s a saying among writers that you have to torture your characters.

It’s true. If they don’t go through angst, misery, and disappointment, there’s not much to write about. But Chris was the last person I wanted to torture. Before he took on a life of his own, I think he was a touch of me (a non-Latin-looking half-Latin with a passionate Latin soul), but with my dad’s easy-going optimism and the chivalrous, gentlemanly nature of my favorite guy friend from high school.

However, Chris was enjoying his life so much in the first book Not Dreaming of You—dating for fun, hanging at parties, dabbling in teaching at the university and dialect coaching for movie studios—I knew something really dramatic had to happen to change his perspective. For his love story, Always Dreaming of You, he had to have a major problem that needed solving or a big hole to fill. He’d always been confident, well-adjusted and multi-talented. A minor set-back wouldn’t faze him.

One day it hit me what had to happen, but I really didn't want to write it into the book. To make matters worse, from Not Dreaming of You, we knew the Carsons and Villanuevas were a really nice, close-knit family. What kind of monster could stand to kill any of them off?

At first I decided I was too nice a person. I couldn’t do it.

Then, I reminded myself that good comedy is typically built on tragedy or misery of some sort. Why does Eddie Murphy’s character Axel Foley have to travel to California in Beverly Hills Cop? Because his friend Mikey is murdered and he needs to solve the crime.

Tragedy.

In There’s Something About Mary, Ted (Ben Stiller) found the girl of his dreams in high school, but she moved away after their one humiliating almost-date and he can’t stop thinking about her or move on with his life without finding her again.

Misery.

So, I had to do it. I had to make the one thing happen that would turn easy-going Chris all achy and lonely. His life had to feel so wrecked that even a confident guy like him could question his motivations and decisions…could even feel needy.

And now the deed is done. I knocked off Chris’s wonderful parents, and I must live with the fact that I killed for the sake of my art.

*Auditory note: In case you can’t actually hear my voice while you’re reading this, I delivered that last sentence with intense drama and the back of my hand to my forehead a la Rebecca Lorrence in Always Dreaming of You. (Please go back and read it again with the correct inflections.)

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