Saturday, May 17, 2008

Venture - coming soon

“I read your blog on the Siren-BookStrand site, Bill. Did your first wife really call you when she saw the cover of Venture?” Susan asked.

I hesitated. The waitress came to take our dinner orders. Susan rattled off a few dishes then I told the waitress I’d have the same. I wasn’t that fond of Indian food but I knew Susan loved it. “Make mine mild,” I added.

In spite of not liking curry, I would have taken Susan to an Indian restaurant in New Delhi if she’d asked me to. I was that besotted with her. I considered her to be the ideal girlfriend. A divorced librarian, she had no children and didn’t want any. My two kids were grown up, so I wasn’t keen to start a family, either. Moreover, Susan really shone in that part of the house where it mattered, and I don’t mean the kitchen.

“The blog,” Susan said, reminding me what we were talking about, as if I was trying to avoid the subject.

“I did take a certain amount of poetic license,” I replied. “But both of my ex-wives did actually read an early draft of Venture. That bit was true.”

“And the woman on the cover? She’s the protagonist, Lydia, I presume?”

“Of course. And the answer is yes, to your next question, she is a composite of both Wendy and Samantha.”

“So tell me all about Lydia’s character and it’ll give me an idea what kind of woman you like.”

“That’s easy, a woman like you,” I replied.

She laughed. “Nice try.”

I knew it worried Susan that I still communicated with my ex-wives. They were both lovely women, which is not what she wanted to hear. Believing it to be true, Susan could have possibly deduced that the reason I was no longer married to either of them must be because I was a jerk. Instead, her left brain seemed to have concluded I must be still in love with both of them.

“The other point about my blog that was true,” I said, “is that the woman on the cover does look remarkably like my first wife Wendy.”

"Oh, so you prefer blondes?”

Susan was a brunette, not a classically beautiful woman, but she had that dirty-girl look that some men (including this one) find attractive. “You asked me for an insight on the heroine,” I said. “You can’t judge a woman’s character by the color of her hair.”

She laughed so loud I presumed it was the most ludicrous notion she’d ever heard. The people at the next table turned to look at us, and for a moment I thought she might repeat my assertion to them. “Sorry. Go on. What is it about Lydia’s character that makes her a compelling heroine?”

Hmm, this was going to be tricky. My protagonist really did have a lot of the traits of my ex-wives. I had the horrible feeling Susan would try to match those attributes with ones she possessed. I’d maneuvered myself into a situation that had the potential to kill my relationship with her before it even got started. Very clever, William.

“Well, first of all, forget the hair color and the fact that she’s pretty. Those things don’t affect the story or Lydia’s suitability as the heroine.”

Susan leaned forward, linked the fingers of both hands, and rested her chin on them. She nodded. “What does, then?”

“She’s very smart: PhD, IQ in the stratosphere, quick witted, and an expert on DNA. Same sort of qualities you have, really except your skills are literary rather than scientific.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes, she has a strong will and a determination to get what she wants. In this case the guy. And when he finds himself in a pickle with some shady characters, she’s the one who extricates him, risking her own life in the process.”

The food arrived, giving me some breathing space and Susan time to ponder what I’d said about Lydia. It seemed to satisfy her because we moved off the topic and switched to global warming. Don’t get me started on that one!

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