A fellow author once said, “Tia… you sure do like to paint yourself into a corner with your characters.” I just remember smiling and having a good laugh with her about it, because it’s true. On more than one occasion, I have shared a character’s damning flaws or situation and then had to turn around and point out the good in them with hopes to make them a hero or heroine… after previously convincing the reader that the character was unredeemable. It’s not intentional, it just happened that way a few times. Okay… once I knew I would have to figure out a way to turn a character around. The others though… nope, no advance plans for character rehab.
When the idea for Love Is first came up, I really put myself in a predicament. First, I didn’t even want to write a book about any of the other Wilkersons-related characters. At. All. However there was something about a particular backstory that I “knew” was interesting enough to share, but it just wasn’t relevant to any of the stories I’ve written or planned to release in that series. For anyone that read any of the Wilkersons in Love books, you might be familiar with a few of the characters that appeared in my latest, Love Is. These characters (Diane Collins and Warren Scott) helped set the course for one of my main characters (Paige Scott) without their story really having anything to do with the Wilkersons series. After some back and forth in thought, I caved and decided I’d tell the story… but the book wasn’t going to be anyone’s story but Diane’s.
I made this decision because for one - Love Is is not a prequel. It’s not even considered a part of the Wilkersons in Love series. It’s the story about one character and how a particular event not only changed her life, but taught her one of our biggest life lessons of all: What is love? And that's a topic I love exploring through my characters as a writer. Two – she’s a very interesting character and it has nothing at all to do with the one moment in time readers knew about her. And three – I wasn’t interested in writing a story about a hero or heroine. I just wanted to try to tell you a good story.
Which brings me back to that earlier sentiment my fellow author shared. Tia Kelly, here’s a corner… now back yourself up into it and take Diane with you.
I went in writing this story knowing a few things that had already been established about Diane Collins… some not so charming details. Before I could share what I thought I knew about Diane, I had to dig even further into her character. As her story unfolded in my head and then later on the screen of my computer, I knew it was going to probably be one of my favorite projects… ever. (And it’s not just because I got to visit the eighties and nineties... an awesome era to grow up in, by the way.) Out of all of my stories and characters… this group probably touched me the most and I pray they do the same for you.
In the meantime, while working on Love Is I kept mum about the story and what exactly it was about. It wasn’t that I was working on something super secretive that was about to change the world. I just knew this journey… Diane’s journey… was going to be a tale full of risks. And to share her story would require me as an author to also take risks. In order to prepare this story, I had to protect it from doubt… sometimes even my own.
It is beyond scary to sit in the writer’s seat these days and let the pen run away from you. In an era where word of mouth doesn’t take months or even days to reach the next person, so by then individuals probably have formed a good basis for their own opinion… now it only takes a social media minute to direct a course of action or influence anyone. As a writer, it is easy to let external factors influence not just what we say in a story, but also how we tell the story. What this story called for was going to call on a little risk taking and steering clear of what could possibly be considered safe. There were times when I wondered if it was worth this course just to save myself the pushback that surely would come from a story like this one. But I couldn’t do that. My spirit felt unsettled every time I considered leaving this story off the page.
With Love Is, I had to come to grips with covering my eyes, ears and thoughts to whatever anyone else could possibly prefer in a book and for once as an author let the story tell itself – all facets of the story. The more I accepted that, the more the story and the characters trusted me. As a result of this journey I took to write it, I am proud of this novel. The journey toward completion helped me appreciate everything this book represented. I even appreciated love that much more.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe Love Is… what to tell you to expect… and I still don’t have an answer. As I mentioned many times before, this is a very different story for me. That's pretty much all I can say.
I guess the easiest way for me to describe it would be to reference one of my favorite series of books growing up as a child in the eighties. I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books. The premise behind these books was that after every chapter, the reader got to choose which scenario they wanted to read next. The path the reader chose to go on steered the reader toward the final outcome and it was based on what the reader wanted to see happen in the story. I don't have chapter maps at the end of each section as this really isn't a "choose your own" type of book, but what unfolds steers the reader in a direction based on what is seen and felt by them through each scene. Just like love… a theme in this book. Love means so many different things to each one of us and how we choose to see it also depends on who is looking at it and the experiences that shaped our opinions up until then. That's what makes this book something I can't explain because you are a part of this experience with her… therefore each reader will go on a journey that differs from everyone else and I nor anyone else can predict the outcome.
All I can say is that Love Is takes you on that journey through the eyes of a young woman named Diane. She’s not seeking love, just merely living her life as a young woman with ambitious goals and dreams. But when love does find her… wow… now that's a story worth telling. And I hope you'll take the time one day soon to read it and experience what love is with her.
It took a once-in-a-lifetime bond to teach her what love is, and a once-in-a-lifetime betrayal to show her what love is not... Love Is. A different kind of love story.
Diane Collins had big plans for her life, and hoops star Warren Scott was not among them. He doesn't want to be the face of the NBA, and she doesn't care that he is. His reluctance to be part of the limelight disarms her and the two embark on an unlikely friendship that becomes an even unlikelier romance.
Soon, his life is her life - filled with VIP treatment, parties and luxuries beyond Diane's wildest imagination. But Warren is harboring a secret, and once it's revealed Diane's decision to stay or go could change the very fabric of who she thought she was.