Regina Cole, lover of manly muscled arms, chest hair, and mini-marshmallows, has been reading romance since her early teens. While she loves a love story of any heat level, she’s been drawn to the erotic side and is loving every minute. When she’s not frantically pounding away at the keyboard, she can be found fishing with her family, playing with her dogs, trying out strange new recipes, or snuggling with her hubby. She also writes mainstream romance as Gina Lamm.
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I’m so excited to be here today! DRAW ME IN has been out for a few days now, and I’m so excited to be able to say that. It seems like forever since Hailey and Neill became real in my head, so now that they’re finally out there in the world? Seems like a dream come true. =)
Today I want to talk a little bit about how these characters came to life for me.
First of all, Hailey. She’s just figuring out who she is and what she wants out of life when her parents’ divorce comes hurtling out of the blue to knock her off her newly-found feet. When I was a sophomore in college myself, something similar (but MUCH LESS traumatic, thank goodness) happened to me.
My sister and I were both attending a private women’s college, and my parents sat us both down fall semester of my sophomore year to tell us that they couldn’t afford tuition for both of us. My parents have worked hard all their lives, but my father was injured on the job when I was eight, so he’s been on disability ever since. Limited income doesn’t exactly provide a lot of savings for a college fund. My sister was a senior, and rather than have her lose out on the degree she’d spent so much time on, I dropped out of school.
It was hard, yes, but at the time I’d met the man of my dreams, who was older, had a house and a car, and was financially and emotionally secure. So, like a lot of people down here in the South do, I got married and got a real job way too young. Do I regret it? No, marrying my superhero was the best decision I ever made. But I do wish I’d been able to find a way to continue school. I think that’s part of the reason I loved Hailey so much. She’s determined to complete her education with or without her parents’ help.
I think that many of the same attributes that make an actor good are what it takes to write a good character. Method acting is the actor finding something in their own experience and drawing on that emotion to flesh out what happens to the character. So, in the case of writing Neill, I was able to draw on my own experiences and emotions and expound on them to feel what he must have felt because of his tragic history.
I haven’t lost a friend or loved one to an addiction, but I have been in toxic relationships that put me through the emotional wringer. I’ve been tied to people I’d rather forget ever existed because of the pain they caused. So in writing Neill, I used many of my personal demons to draw what he felt when his father, and then his ex-girlfriend, chose drugs over a relationship with him.
It was hard to visit those emotional places within myself, but it’s cathartic too. It helps me connect to my characters, and I do this with every book I write. I try to write authentic characters with depth of emotion and real reactions. Through everything, Neill retains his sense of self and ability to love, even though he shields himself as much as possible to prevent himself from being hurt again. He’s very, very human, just like the rest of us.
I hope that gives you a little glimpse of what it took for me to craft these characters, and I hope that their journey inspires you.
I’ve really enjoyed being here today! Below, please tell me your favorite literary character and what attribute you like most about them. I’ll be checking them out!
In Regina Cole’s steamy novel of hot ink and delicious angst, two tortured artists take a leap of faith—but the past threatens to tear them apart.
After her parents pull the plug on her college fund to finance their nasty divorce, Hailey Jakes is desperate to pay her own way and finish her degree in graphic design. She can hardly believe her luck when the sexiest guy she’s ever seen hires her to be the receptionist at his tattoo shop. With sea-blue eyes, jet-black hair, and full sleeves of tattoos on his muscular arms, Neill Vanderhaven looks like the kind of guy who wouldn’t give her the time of day. In fact, he’s mesmerized by her—and it doesn’t hurt that she’s talented as hell.
But Hailey and Neill have more in common than instant chemistry: They’re both carrying serious baggage. Hailey’s parents split after years of blowout fights and sloppy affairs. Neill just got out of something serious with a woman who loved her bad habits more than she loved him. When they take the plunge on a new relationship, they’re both breaking their own rules.
But then a terrible misunderstanding brings Neill’s worst fears to life, and their connection threatens to come crashing down. What they have is more than skin-deep, but now Hailey and Neill need to decide whether the kind of love that lasts forever is worth such exquisite pain.
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