Today Wednesday Writers Welcomes Patrice Locke to the blog. Patrice will be sharing the unusual eating habits of her heroine from her romantic comedy Exit Signs. She is also sharing an excerpt from the book for your reading pleasure. Welcome, Patrice!
Main Character’s Snacks, Readers Eat it Up
As I was writing my newest book “Fresh Start,” due out from Soul Mate Publishing this summer, I thought a lot about what makes a main character stand out.
I knew immediately what readers liked best about the main character in my first book, “Exit Signs.” It was the bizarre snacks narrator Tracy Price concocts—rattlesnake meat and cotton candy, string cheese wrapped around craisins. It’s usually the first thing readers mention to me, and it’s listed in almost all the reader reviews. One even asked, facetiously, I hope, for a recipe book. Tracy is a snack virtuoso only in her own mind.
And the funny thing is, the snack concoctions almost didn’t make it into the story. My editor at Soul Mate suggested adding more background information about Tracy, including her favorite foods. I immediately knew that Tracy would not have a handful of grapes or a saltine with peanut butter on it. She wouldn’t throw a banana in a blender with almond milk, and she would never, ever eat carrot sticks, unless they were slathered in caramel.
Tracy is a unique character, and her snacks would have to be too.
Then, as if a cartoon dialogue box had flown overhead, I heard Tracy explaining her genius snack combinations. A wheat thin and a square of dark chocolate; a salted, dry green bean and a pineapple life saver; meatballs in chocolate sauce. She carried them all, at one time or another, in a plastic snack bag tucked into the pocket of her blue jeans. She let me know it was a tradition she carried on from her Romanian grandmother.
Over the course of writing in Tracy’s voice I got to know her very well. But she had a tendency to be a private person, so it took me a while to crack her shell – in a completely non-egg-like way.
That one little detail about Tracy turned out to be a key element to her story, reinforcing her perspective and heritage in a way I never expected.
The snacks turned out to be a highlight of the final scene in the book, a sign that the happily ever after was real.
By the way, there actually is an online recipe for meatballs in chocolate sauce. I guess it’s quite a delicacy in some places. I hope I never visit those places.
by Patrice Locke
Tracy Price is a film researcher. She doesn’t do crushes—at least not until she’s 32 and meets the one man she knows she will never marry. He’s Jesse Elliot, a musician running from fame.
Tracy’s obsession with a decades-old missing person case consumes her. And though Jesse resents her quest, it may lead her to finally understand him. When Jesse and Tracy both feel betrayed, an unexpected blessing may be their only chance for happiness.
The first thing he did was call attention to his blue-black hair by reaching up with his right hand to rake some strands away from his forehead. The hair fell right back onto the shoreline of his face just like a wave on a beach. I thought of the cliché movie scene where the action cuts to an agitated ocean to symbolize sex. I cleared my throat, ordered myself to get a grip.
Instead of listening to myself, I surprised both of us by asking him my name: “Tracy Price?”
“Yes?” he asked, matching my tone and confirming my identity. “It’s nice to meet you.”
I didn’t realize until later that he hadn’t introduced himself to me. He had a strong aura of self-assurance, not arrogance exactly, but calm confidence. We had a very ordinary conversation, memorable to me only because of my rising anxiety and the silent dialogue that began running in my head.
He was all-business. I was all over the place. He said nothing at all intriguing; he didn’t need to at the first meeting. This was how a romance novel would begin, and I would just go ahead and provide all the dialogue for both of us. He could be two-dimensional. I could write the script for us. I thought I knew the genre, but I had it wrong from the start. This was no romance. This was science fiction. He was from another planet. He had to be.
He sat down in a chair adjacent to mine and waited for me to speak, so I threw caution to the wind and asked: “How do you like Albuquerque?” Very original, Tracy! What I really wondered was, How does it feel to look like you do?
“I like it,” he said, answering both my questions. “I really like it so far.”
I nodded, feeling a surge of power. “I bet. And how long are you staying?” I wondered: Would it be too forward of me to sit on your lap?
“Six weeks… I really can’t say yet. This was kind of an unexpected trip.” Bingo! Both questions addressed.
I smiled; this was working! Let me know when you decide about the lap thing. I took a deep breath, covering my mouth for a brief fake cough to clear my head.
Want to read more? You can find Exit Signs at Amazon
About the Author:
Patrice Locke studied journalism at Michigan State University. Then an unexpected job offer drew her westward. She worked for New Mexico and Arizona newspapers, covering everything from government meetings and drug busts to Navajo Code Talkers and haunted houses.
She’s a Jane Austen fanatic.
“Exit Signs” was her first published book. The second, “Fresh Start,” is due to be published in the summer of 2018. It’s about a woman who’s been dumped 1600 miles from her home with nothing except a guilty conscience and a to-do list she’s sure will change her life. Book number three, which may be called “Honey, I’m Home” has the same narrator as “Exit Signs.”