My New Love Is Becoming a Demanding Nag

So this week’s mood picture refers to the fact that I’ve sent my last pass of 32 CANDLES back to the publisher, and am now hankering down with a new women’s fiction novel called the The Awesome Girl’s Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men.

As I mentioned last week, I was all sorts of in love with this new novel, but that was before I actually started working on it — or if we want to stretch the romantic metaphor, before I moved in with it. Now, I’m finding out the weird — almost schizophrenic way — that these characters who seemed hot-to-go when I was with another novel, are actually demanding nags.

The novel has four main characters, but there’s one that I like particularly and she has been hinting that she wants to be a comedian. Yes, a comedian — even though I have little to no experience with performing comedy — only writing it. I tried offering her many other career options. I was even willing to let her be a writer, though I try to never, ever make my main characters writers — just because the actual act of writing is so boring that I know it’s not really of interest to anyone but other writers. But she stood her ground and insisted that she had to be a comedian, b/c that’s what she was.

Okay, so though, I’m a write-at-home mom with limited evening time to do research, I shot off emails to a couple of female comedians I know and asked to shadow them at their next performance. Fine. But that’s all! I tell my characters.

But how about the Spanish novellas? the guitarist-turned-singer asks.

Wait, what Spanish telenovellas?

You’ve got to watch some Spanish telenovellas, b/c that’s totally what I do at like four am in the morning to unwind.

How about anime? I say. I love anime.

No, it’s Spanish telenovellas, she assures me.

And don’t forget about Scotland! another character calls out. This book won’t be truly finished until you go to Scotland.

Mind you all of these characters are black, so in 2010 I have to learn what it’s like to be a struggling female comedian, watch Spanish telenovellas, and go to effin Scotland from a black perspective — b/c funny that, there’s not a lot of information out there about black American women who are perform comedy, watch Spanish telenovellas, or take trips to Scotland, so I can’t even cheat, which I would totally be willing to do to get out of researching all of this.

I don’t want to say that this book is way more high-maintenance than 32 CANDLES, but the farthest Davie ever made me go was Solvang. And I’m a little non-plussed that the characters are pushing me so far outside of my comfort zone.

How about you guys? How do you handle research, and have your characters ever started making strange demands like this? Let me know in the comments and wish me luck with this rough draft.

Oh, and let me know what you think of my author photo!


Ernessa T. Carter is the author of the novel, 32 CANDLES, which will be released by HarperCollins/Amistad on June 22, 2010. Pre-order your copy on Amazon here.