Hurray for Hollywood!
My writing is often inspired by movies. I don't "rip them off." But I do "riff" on them.
Take my newest historical western romance. It is set in 1881 Arkansas and the first inkling I had of it was in recalling the superb performance of Ruby by Renee Zellweger in "Cold Mountain." While the whole film was memorable, I kept thinking about Ruby and her unfettered spirit. I loved the look of her. Her pouting, take-no-prisoners scowl and her no-nonsense approach to life. She was a survivor, born and bred. She didn't know affection or respect, but she knew how to hang on and never surrender.
I decided to create my own Ruby. I named her Gussie and caught hell for it from my best friend who despised the name. But I had plans for that name. Gussie was born Augusta and became Augusta again in the eyes and heart of Max Lonestar.
Having a heroine who is sharp-tongued and frowny-faced is a tricky feat. You have to find the right balance or a majority of readers aren't going to identify with her or feel sympathy for her. And you really must engage the readers on those counts. Even Scarlett O'Hara had her moments of vulnerability so that readers could glimpse her heart and understand her motivations. You might not approve of Scarlett's choices, but you understood how she came to do what she did.
I found a photo that also inspired me. I've included it on this blog so you can admire it, too. This gal and Renee's Ruby rolled into one to become Gussie. She can be as tough as boot leather, but with the right words and encouragement, she can also purr like a kitten. I loved writing about her.
That's one of the fun things about writing. Creating and living inside characters. Gussie is more courageous and independent than I am, but she's a dreamer like me and she's a sucker for silly dogs and men with good hearts. She's not the most beautiful girl in the world, but she has a beauty all her own and one that transcends physical attractiveness. She's the kind of woman who will stand next her her man, but never in his shadow. She might give the impression that she doesn't need anyone to help her, but she appreciates a strong shoulder to lean on and a hand up when necessary.
Gussie is a heroine I'm glad I finally pulled out of my mind's dust bucket and brought to life in her own book. Thanks to novelist Charles Frazier and actress Renee Zellweger, I found a mote of an idea, grabbed it, and created a whole book around it.
I hope you enjoy reading Lonestar's Lady as much as I enjoyed writing it.