Squawk Radio

Thursday, April 20, 2006

TERESA MEDEIROS MAKES TERRIBLE CONFESSION (Originally published on April 22, 2005. It didn't have any Comments because we hadn't figured out how to turn them on yet.)

Okay, I have a confession to make. I'm TSTL. That's right--My name is Teresa Medeiros and I'm Too Stupid To Live. The first day we moved into our new house, I ran the car into the garage, effectively wrecking both of them. After listening to the song LIFE IN THE FAST LANE by the Eagles at least 10 million times since the 70's, I just figured out the line that says, "There were lines on the mirror" is talking about cocaine, not wrinkles. Only today I risked life and limb (and my beloved Jag) to drive to Starbuck's during a terrible thunderstorm/tornado watch because I couldn't bear to live another moment without a Grande Mocha Lite Frappuccino.

So I consider it a personal affront when readers say that they can't stand heroines who are too stupid to live. Just go ahead and kill me now, why don't you? (For other examples of my stupidity, you may contact any of the other Squawkers by private e-mail and a comprehensive list will be provided to you.)

But seriously, I hate almost any black and white rules that put limits on my fiction, either writing it or reading it. I want to write about all sorts of characters and my very favorites are characters who make mistakes and learn from them. One of my favorite themes is to follow a girl as she makes the journey toward womanhood. And you know what?--girls often do foolish, impulsive things, especially in pursuit of love. Things like climbing out of a window in a ballgown like Lottie in ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL or visiting a dangerous gambling hell to track down a gorgeous hunk of a vampire like Portia in my upcoming book THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME. (Editor's Note: This blog edited to squeeze in shameless, unsubtle plug for upcoming book per lesson learned from Christina and Connie.)

I love that Connie recently brought up Lolly LaRue in the classic romance JUST A KISS AWAY by Jill Barnett because it was Jill who once said to me, "I love to write about people who make grand and glorious mistakes and who suffer terribly for those mistakes and who are better people for it by the end of the book." Isn't character growth the very definition of well-written fiction?

So many things that we used to simply call "a plot" are now dissected mercilessly on the internet as "characters that are TSTL" or "Big Misunderstandings" or "Mary Jane heroines". If we avoid all of these things, then eventually we won't have anything to write about except perfect (and boring) characters and the romance genre will continue to grow even narrower in scope.

Every one of us has suffered through that moment in the horror movie when the heroine decides to creep down into the cellar all by herself with only a flashlight for a weapon to investigate the mysterious noise. I may shout, "Don't do that, you idiot!" but it doesn't usually make me stop watching the movie. (And while we're on the subject of flashlights, how come those people on CSI don't ever just turn on the freaking overhead lights?!?!?!)

I would also like to argue that there are all different kinds of smarts in this world. In my book SHADOWS AND LACE, when Gareth asks Rowena how long it's been since she's eaten, she says, "Four days" and holds up three fingers. Is she stupid? No, just uneducated. I once had a fascinating conversation with another writer about Jed Clampett of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Was he stupid? Nope, he was innocent. There's a distinct difference. Was Lucy Ricardo stupid because she managed to get herself into all of those messes? Nope, she was hysterically funny. I'm a very open-minded reader. Give me characters I can care about and I'll let them get away with murder (sometimes literally).

I only have one hard and fast rule--the hero must never, EVER kick a kitten.

So how about you? Have you ever had your own TSTL moment that would make you worthy to be the wacky, madcap heroine of your own novel?

Just sign up for the Bravenet SQUAWK RADIO mailing list in the box at the left of the page to be eligible for this week's prizes. Not to be outdone by that shameless Christina Dodd, Teresa will be giving away NOT ONE, BUT TWO! autographed advance copies of THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME, so hot off the press it's still sizzling. For more info about the book, visit the Coming Attractions page at www.teresamedeiros.com. Good luck!

Teresa Medeiros, 3:00 PM