Thanks to those who mentioned an interest in learning more about Loving Eliza! I have down other books I’ll do trivia on in the future. Here’s the order: Bid for a Bride, Bride of Second Chances, A Bride for Tom, The Accidental Mail Order Bride, The Earl’s Wallflower Bride, The Marriage Contract, and Boaz’s Wager. I’ll work on more after those are done.
For now, let’s get to Loving Eliza!
- This is the book I wrote that launched my very first spin-off series from the Nebraska Series. Eliza was introduced in His Redeeming Bride as the prostitute Neil Craftsman often went to in the past. In the scene at the bar when she told Neil she only played along with the other men in tricking him because she had a son and that she didn’t want him to find out about her, I became interested in her character and wanted to learn more about her and her past. To do that, I had to give her a better future. That was how Loving Eliza was born.
- I didn’t originally plan to make Loving Eliza the first book in a new series. It was supposed to be a standalone romance. One of my beta readers at the time, however, mentioned wanting to see Eliza have a child. I didn’t want to give John and Eliza a biological child because I personally knew a couple of people who weren’t able to have children, and I wanted to show that not every couple is able to have them. So what I opted to do was give John and Eliza a child to adopt. That was how Loving Eliza became the first book in the South Dakota Series.
- I named the hero after my deaf son, John. I wanted to give the hero a disability, but I didn’t want to make him deaf like my son. I opted to make him mute. That way he could hear what Eliza, who was a chatterbox, was saying while also giving him trouble communicating so that people assumed he was mentally handicapped. The reason the people thought John was mentally handicapped was because a lot of people I came in contact with thought that about my son (including one of his teachers). This was a source of frustration for me at the time. Now I just tell people right away my son is deaf. It’s amazing how many people jump to conclusions about someone who can’t hear. (I’m sure parents of children with other disabilities get frustrated by the reactions of others, too.)
- Another reason I made John mute was so that I could put myself into the shoes of a character who wanted to communicate with the world but had difficulty doing so. This was my attempt to gain better insight into what my son went through on a daily basis. The strategy worked. After that, the communication he and I shared improved significantly. While a writer might not know exactly what it’s like to be someone who is different from them, writing in that character’s point of view goes a long way to understanding that person a lot better. This is why I’m in full support of writers going outside their comfort zones and writing a character who is different from them. It opens the door of compassion when you put yourself into someone else’s position and imagine how the world is from their perspective.
- Eliza, by far, was the easiest character I ever wrote. Every scene pretty much wrote itself. I got an appreciation for going deeply into a character’s point of view from this book, and ever since then, I have embraced this technique in all of my work.
- Piggybacking off of the last point… When I write in a character’s point of view, I go through everything they do. It doesn’t matter what the scene is about or what the character is going through. So when Eliza was hungry, I was also hungry. Those scenes where she was struggling with hunger pangs were equally uncomfortable for me. I got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore and ate a full course meal before writing any more scenes where she was hungry, but while writing them, I would feel hungry anyway. I knew I wasn’t hungry, but my stomach would growl and pester me to eat. So when I finished the scenes, I would grab something to eat, and my stomach was finally satisfied. It’s amazing how the human brain can influence our body. Needless to say, Eliza and I were both relieved when she was no longer facing each scene hungry. 😀
- Before I wrote this book, I didn’t care for the color yellow. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it, either. I picked this color for Eliza because I wanted to create a deeper meaning to the color yellow. (I do this from time to time in order to give the story a more personal touch.) The sun is the color yellow. Also, the word “sun” has the same sound as the word “son”. To me, Jesus Christ, the “Son” of God, has always been my main source of hope. I wanted Eliza to latch onto that same concept as she came to accept everything that had happened to her. I didn’t always want her to look up at the sky, so I decided to have yellow flowers. Those flowers were really reflective of Jesus Christ. Ever since that book, I have loved the color yellow.
- I, personally, hate Romeo and Juliet. I’m not a fan of books with sad endings. I love The Scarlet Letter because of its message that good can come out of a bad situation. (Plus, it had a really good twist halfway into it.) This is why Eliza hated Romeo and Juliet and loved The Scarlet Letter. I don’t always impose my personal preferences onto a character like that, but in Eliza’s case, both of those fit for her personality, so it made sense to do it.