Shannon here: Sherri Stewart shares her inspiration for her latest Romantic Suspense, Deer Eyes. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a print copy. Deadline: Sept 10th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Sherri:
The Birth and Childhood of a Book by Sherri Stewart
Friends have asked me where I come up with ideas for my books. Usually, I shrug and tell them I have no idea. So I thought I’d ‘deconstruct’ my latest book, Deer Eyes, to determine how it was conceived, birthed, and grew into maturity. And what I discovered astonished me.
Deer Eyes, a romantic suspense novella, came out of a Julia Roberts movie, a research paper I did in my last year of law school, and my desire to visit every state in the U.S. Let’s take them one at a time.
Do you remember the movie, Sleeping with the Enemy? Julia Roberts played a battered wife, who escaped her husband’s abuse by jumping off their boat during a storm and taking on a new identity in a different state. This wasn’t a Christian movie, so despite the fact she was still married, she began to date a college instructor until her husband showed up.
So that got me thinking. How would this story look from the point of view of the new boyfriend? This was the first book I wrote from a male point of view. And because I’m a believer, I didn’t want to deal with adultery even if there was abuse, so I chose a single girl—not one abused, but one who left town because a law-school friend of hers showed increasing signs of being obsessed with her. So she escapes to Maine. In my mind’s eye, I pictured Julia Robert’s fearful brown eyes as she comes upon Judd, my main character, while she’s walking on a lonely trail in Acadia National Park. My female character’s name is Selah Brighton.
Judd Trudeau is a principal at the local high school in Bar Harbor, Maine. I chose Maine because it was the second to the last state I had yet to visit. As such, my son and I traveled to Maine in February. Although Deer Eyes takes place in the fall, we chose February for two reasons: One, hotels were half the price they were in the fall, and two, the story takes place off-season when most of the shops and restaurants are closed until the spring. I wanted the setting to be among the locals, not overrun with tourists.
I made Judd a principal because I was a principal at one time, and it’s easier to write about what you know than what you don’t. Both characters have to have something they want, and they have to have something that needs fixing. Shakespeare called it a character flaw. Judd has had bad luck with girls. He’s a nice guy, but he doesn’t have a lot of self-confidence. Judd has a need to protect, and he sees this girl with deer-in-the-headlights eyes, and his need to protect goes into overdrive.
Selah is afraid to get close to anyone. She’s afraid her law-school study buddy will find her, and who knows what he’ll do. She’d called the police after he’d entered her apartment in Boston without her permission, but the police didn’t do anything. This was where my research paper based on Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California (1976) came into the story. What happens when the law refuses to protect a victim from a future threat? In this case, she runs to Maine.
So there you have it. Judd has to tame the deer, and Selah has to learn to trust.
Question for Readers: Think back to something you created from scratch. It could be a recipe, a poem, a quilt, or a painting. Now deconstruct it. Where did the idea come from? How did you choose the elements?
About Sherri: Sherri Stewart’s hobby is writing inspirational fiction—either suspense or historical, sprinkled with romance and a strong message that challenges our faith. A former French teacher, principal, attorney, and flight attendant, she now spends her working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing her own. Her passion is traveling to the settings of her books, sampling the food, and visiting the sites. She enjoyed visiting Haarlem to research A Song for Her Enemies, and Paris for its sequel, What Lies Beyond the Walls, which will be out this fall. A recent widow, Sherri lives in the Orlando area with her lazy dog, Lily, and her son, Joshua, who can fix anything. She shares recipes, tidbits of the books’ locations, and pix in her newsletter.
About the book – Deer Eyes:
Her eyes reflect fear, but looks can be deceiving.
From the moment high-school principal, Judd Trudeau, sees the fear-filled eyes of the beautiful woman in Acadia Park, he knows he must tread lightly. If he wants to get close, Judd must gain her trust. But those deer-in-the-headlights eyes remain, and his need to protect her trumps his better judgment. She’s running from something. The more he learns about Selah Brighton, the more he realizes looks can be deceiving.
Selah Brighton has reason to be wary, which is why she chose to hide in Bar Harbor, Maine. The fewer people who know her story, the less danger she’ll bring to their lives. It’s not wise to stay in any place for long, but something about Judd Trudeau makes it hard to tamp down her feelings.
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