Saturday, June 19, 2010

On Florida Charlie's and setting and starting over

It's time to start a new book. Something that both excites and terrifies me.

The exciting part is obvious. At this point, although I still have copy edits and final proofs that will have to be done on Boyfriend of the Month, I'm sick of 'em all. I've lived, breathed, slept Grace, Joe, Brandon, Charlie, Sarah, Abuela and the rest of the gang for almost a year now and it's time to move on. Kind of like a relationship gone stale. I want the excitement of fresh characters. People who I don't know yet, but am interested in knowing. Not that I won't miss the gang from BOTM. I love those people! I made them up, after all. But I can't do anything more with them. Their story is over. Kaput. Finis. I gave everyone who deserved it a HEA, and everyone who didn't deserve a HEA, well, I gave them the potential of one, because after all, I do write fun, romantic women's fiction (After 3 books and much soul searching, that's the tagline I've decided on).

So back to the new book. The idea for the story started long before I ever actually wrote the first chapter ( I have 10 pages, yay!) It started just like Boyfriend and the Bunco books did, with the idea of a place, a community. Which is interesting, because I think I write character driven novels. But setting is character too. It lives and breathes with a life of its own. Even though Whispering Bay (the town I set my Bunco novels in) is imaginary, when I close my eyes, I can see it. It has real streets and real shops and the people who live there have a very distinctive mindset about them. Kind of like when you ask someone where they're from and they say, "New York city" or "Two Egg, Florida" (yes, there is a town called Two-Egg- it's not too far from Tallahassee). Whether right or not, I already have an idea about that person, because where you're from and where you've been raised has as much influence over the kind of person you become as anything else, I think.

Before I ever thought of the concept of Boyfriend of the Month (or even thought of the title) the idea of Florida Charlie's (the tourist shop where a lot of the action in the book takes place) had already come to me. It had been germinating like a seed in the recesses of my mind and had taken root. Although BOTM is set in Daytona Beach, a real town, the novel's true "location" is Florida Charlie's. A tourist shop still stuck in the 1960s. A place that gave away free samples of orange juice and shipped citrus, and sold old fashioned gifts and had a corny mascot. A place that was a bit of a Florida icon in its day but had been brushed aside by the big tourism machine (you know who I'm talking about here- the little guy with the ears). I think the one character I'll truly miss the most when I completely leave Boyfriend is that shop. Funny, but true.

Which gets me back to the new novel. Tentatively titled Girlfriends are Forever (but that could easily change). The seed for this book started with the Race for the Rock. A high tech scavenger hunt that took place back in May in Bainbridge, Ga (just about 30 minutes north of Tallahassee). The prize? A $10,000 engagement ring, hidden somewhere in the city. The idea of it is so brilliant, it gave me shivers. And immediately got me thinking about this new imaginary place. A town somewhere south of St. Augustine. A town that claims that Ponce de Leon actually discovered the fountain of youth in their neck of the woods. A town that's kind of dyin' and needs something big to revive it. And revive the people who live there. And voila... Exploration, Florida was born. Not sure if I'm crazy about that name but I'm already in love with the town. And the people who live there. And I think that's good.


Kandy Shepherd said...

Maria, it's always so interesting to share another writer's first steps on the creative journey of a new story.
I can't wait to read BOYFRIEND OF THE MONTH!

Maria Geraci said...

Hey, Kandy! I really love this part of writing- the newness of it, discovering characters and setting and of course, figuring out what the heck the story is even about. Looking forward to reading your new book too :)


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