Hi friends! Can you believe that we’re into the 1950s already? May! If you have no idea what I’m talking about … you can check out the information and excellent previous posts here.But! Today, we welcome first time A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet guest Carla Buchanan!
PRIDE AND PASSION is the sixth book in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series. This series consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page,
When Inspiration Slaps You in the Face
How does any writer decide what to write about? How does any writer decide what two characters to focus on or what story to tell?
If you have the answers to these questions then stop reading right now, search this post for my email address, and send me a message with the correct answer because I’m at a loss. In most cases, I have no idea what I want from myself or what the readers may want from me. No lie; I spend so much time pacing my living room space, talking to myself, bouncing ideas off my 12-year-old dachshund (who is never any help at all), a person would probably think I’m insane. And though, the worn path in my carpet might actually be proof of my insanity, during one of these passes across I was actually inspired. It worked. I laid eyes on a picture of my grandmother-in-law across the room, and it all became clear. I found a love for writing and reading historical romances.
Now, in no way is PRIDE AND PASSION about my husband’s grandmother, but if you met the woman you’d know what I’m talking about. With a personality so huge, it can barely fit into a room, I knew I wanted bits and pieces of her strength, her vulnerability, her love for her family, her dedication, and her feistiness in each and every female character in PRIDE AND PASSION. She lived. She dated. She raised a family, and she matured during the 1950s. Just talking to her made me feel like I was transported to that time, further inspiring me toward the story I wanted to write.
As far as the military aspect in PRIDE AND PASSION, I have been fortunate enough to have married into a family with more than one member who has made a career in the military. The same woman who inspired my female characters was also a military wife just like my heroine. She lost her husband just like my heroine, but that’s where their stories part ways and PRIDE AND PASSION takes shape becoming the kind of historical slice of life story anyone can relate to, whether they were alive during the 1950s or not. It’s the kind of story you’ll say… Oh my God, I’ve heard about a town like that, people like that, or a place just like that from stories my mother, father, or grandparents have told me about.
I mean, who can’t relate to the pressures of family, the desire to live your own life, all while trying to find where you fit in. Just like we are influenced by the world around us, the characters in PRIDE AND PASSION are the same. I was inspired by how much like me, like us, people were during the 1950s.
I’ll share one exchange clearly showing that the conversations you have with your friends today aren’t that much different than one a group of friends would’ve had back then, and that inspiration can come from everyday life.
“My mama tryin’ to push me on Duane Holt just because his parents got some money,” Eleanor complained, thankfully changing the subject from Nathaniel. “Can you believe that?” she asked and then sat up quickly, a thought suddenly coming to her. “The state don’t allow parents to arrange marriages any more do they? I wouldn’t put it past my mama to go that far.”
Darlene laughed but said, “Heck, colored folks barely got any rights as it is, but hopefully things ain’t quite that bad.”
“I promise your mama can’t force you to marry, Duane,” Constance finally said, but she hadn’t laughed…
Come on… Admit it. No matter what sex you are, no matter what life you’ve lived, and no matter where you’re from we all know someone whose parents have tried to push them off on someone because it would be good for their future. And who doesn’t know that one person who can make fun of the negative like Darlene.
The exchange between the three characters is a snapshot of how relatable the characters are and how our problems aren’t that much different than those of the characters in the book. While what was going on was different, the news reports were different, the technology was different, they were just regular people living ordinary lives during extraordinary times.
That was my slap to the face.
I knew I didn’t have to tell a story with fireworks and whistles to make it a great story. I knew I didn’t have to have my characters as activists or protestors or leaders in the civil rights movement. I didn’t have to have my characters doing anything but being themselves. That was what makes you want to know more about them.
When I read a story, I like to know the characters are like me. I like to read about characters whose stories I can believe. I am in search of the stories that allow me to walk a mile in the shoes of the characters, leaving me with a unique experience I never would’ve had if I didn’t pick up that particular book.
So, if you haven’t realized it by now then I’ll tell you what inspired me to write this book. Yes, it was my husband’s grandmother. Yes, it was my crazy extended military family. Yes, it was wanting to tell a different story, one not about bus boycotts or school segregation. I was inspired by all of those things, but I think most of all I was inspired by the readers and the story I thought they most wanted to hear. I was inspired to show the readers how one family, one couple, made it through to the other side while life was going on around them.
And be honest, didn’t you always think of your grandparents as unrelatable and distant because they were older? Didn’t you think your parents weren’t real people who dealt with real things? Don’t you sometimes think of the past as something you can’t really grasp because you weren’t there? Well, if not, then good for you. But if you’re like me then… you’re probably being honest.
But you don’t have to continue to think of the past as some obscure thing you can’t relate to with decades inspired books like PRIDE AND PASSION.
Now that my slap to the face has opened my eyes to writing historical fiction, I find myself gravitating toward reading historical fiction as well. I no longer think of historical fiction as a forced history class, but instead I think of it as a unique set of stories that couldn’t be told if they hadn’t happened when they did. I think of the time period as an extra story element making the book more interesting.
So, if you take nothing else from this blog post other than a heightened interest in exploring historical romance, I’d say I’ve done my job. Not that I don’t want everyone reading this to go out and purchase PRIDE AND PASSION, and every other installment in this series, because I do. But I also hope to bring at least one person along with me on this new love I have for historical and period romances. I hope learning more about the past can inspire the present just like it did for me while writing PRIDE AND PASSION.
Carla Buchanan is a professionally and self-published author who published her first novel in 2012. Since then she has published several more books in the romance and women’s fiction and continues to write for those subgenres. Website, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
What a lovely piece – thank you for sharing with us today, Carla. I loved the snapshot from the book, ad also your family. It’s also something we should all think about – how to relate to any character, and what is going on around them, whether it’s “in your face” or not.
What do you all think?
And once more with feeling … (or you know, the blurb…)
Behind the soft smile, perfect manners, and helpful air, Constance Ray is a woman struggling to make it through the day. After her husband is killed in the Korean war, his death leaves her lost, knowing she can never be the woman she was before. Although, when a handsome navy officer shows up with a final word from the grave, Constance can’t ignore the message. She also can’t continue to be indifferent to the man who brought it, or his involvement in the war – the one for everyone’s right to be treated equally.
Nathaniel Kelly never means for it to happen, especially not with Constance. He is supposed to fulfill the final wish of the man he owed his life to, but he can’t help it when he instantly falls for the soften-spoken, bereaved preacher’s daughter. But as much as he wishes to court her, to love her, his loyalty to his friend and his obligation to make up for sins of the father, stand in the way. Remaining true to his friendship, and his mission, is hard when pride for the movement unites Nathaniel with Constance and his passion for her finally sets her free.
sounds like another wonderful book in the series.