Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Article: Dianne Hartsock

Discovering my Two Lovely Men

I never really develop my characters so much as discover them as I write. In my M/M romance ‘Shelton in Love’, I wanted to write a modern love story, set in the heart of the city. When I begin stories, I loosely outline the plot in my mind, knowing where I want to start, what happens towards the middle, and how I’d like it to end. Keep in mind, this is all vague until I get into the depths of the story. My characters often take me places where I’d never thought to go. In ‘Shelton in Love’ I wanted Shelton to be the one in love; Nevil would be the flirty, impossibly beautiful playboy he desires. I began with them in the apartment they share, convenient to their respective jobs.

Shelton ignored the flutter in his stomach he always experienced when invited into Nevil's room, and settled back into the cushions of the chair. "Who's the lucky color?" he asked, trying to feign indifference.

Nevil randomly drew a pair of socks from the top drawer of the bureau. "Ah, the gray ones." "What? Percy again? Didn't you have him earlier in the week?" "So what? These socks have never let me down," Nevil countered, rubbing the soft wool against his cheek and purring like a happy kitten.

At this point I began to uncover their personalities. Shelton was in trouble, already in love, finding it harder to resist Nevil’s electric attraction. Nevil’s personality is still illusive. How does he really feel about Shelton? I know he desires him, but can he have deeper feelings? I hoped so! But only time would tell me.

Now, what did these two men look like? Yes, it sometimes takes a while before faces appear to me. Usually personality and emotion come first, then the physical body. But in this instance Nevil came easily to mind, Eric McCormack from ‘Will and Grace’. Devilishly handsome man! Nevil has the same dark looks, though younger and more athletic.

"Shelton?" He jumped with fright when he heard Nevil's voice in his ear. Nevil's face was inches from his own. With only a slight move, Shelton could reach the luscious, inviting mouth, but he resisted the temptation.

Nevil straightened and Shelton looked up helplessly at him, beautiful in shorts, the tank top clinging to his chest. His black hair was damp on his forehead, a trickle of sweat running alongside one gorgeous turquoise eye. Every nerve in Shelton's body strained toward him, wanting that strong, vibrant body against his own, that delicious mouth and tongue fencing with his.

For Shelton I borrowed the curly blond hair and hazel eyes from an old boyfriend of mine, though Shelton is much kinder and way better looking!

Nevil whistled at one in particular, where Shelton had glanced at the camera through lowered lids, a secret smile playing on his lips. The overhead light brought out the highlights in his chestnut hair and lightened his hazel eyes, complementing the warm colors of his ensemble for an overall attractiveness.

"You'll need to stockpile this coat, Tera," Nevil observed, his eyes never leaving Shelton's. "Every man who sees that picture is going to want one for his own." His gaze was intense and Shelton colored at the innuendo.

So I have their looks and budding personalities. Now it’s time to really get into it, following the vague outline in my head. The characters’ personalities are slowly revealed to me in how they react to the situations that come up, some of which I never intended at the start. More often than not a character will take over a scene and we find out lots of juicy details about him. But still, it isn’t until the very end of the story that we see the depths of Nevil’s feelings and Shelton gets his happy ending.

Nevil's silence tore at his heart and Shelton stood, keeping his face averted. Nevil rose instantly, standing close, and the heat from his body encircled Shelton in a warm, erotic blanket. "Stay with me," he said, his breath caressing Shelton's cheek.

"I can't." Nevil closed the short distance between them, bodies touching, his lips nuzzling Shelton's neck. "But I want forever."

In my second book, ‘Shelton’s Promise’, I moved their relationship up six months. Madly in love, Shelton wonders if it’s too soon to ask Nevil to be his alone.

Shelton's mood lifted further as he inserted his key into the front door lock. It had been a long week, and he looked forward to relaxing on the couch with a beer and the hockey game on TV. Nevil would grumble about it, sitting at his feet and picking the game apart. Bored, he would fixate on one of the more handsome athletes, talking dirty until at last he'd crawl over Shelton's body and take out his aroused imagination on his obliging lover.

Shelton patted his coat pocket, reassured that the small jewelry box he'd picked up that morning hadn't been misplaced. Excitement ran through him as he imagined Nevil's amorous response to his gift. Feeling slightly aroused, Shelton eagerly pushed open the front door.

But I discovered that Nevil wasn’t quite through with his flirting.

Shelton floated, pleasantly dizzy, but he hadn't had enough to drink to numb the stab of jealousy when Nevil leaned over Percy's chair and whispered something in his ear. The man looked into Nevil's face and laughed, a tinge of color in his cheeks.

Seeing them together, Shelton thought of the jewelry box in his coat pocket and wished he'd had the balls earlier to give it to Nevil. He wasn't sure if he'd ever have the nerve. What if Nevil didn't want it? Irritated with himself, he made his way through the crowd to the kitchen, intent on finding the bottle of bourbon he'd seen on the counter earlier.

But I couldn’t leave them like this. I had to bring them back together for their happy ending. Nevil was just going to have to let go of his incorrigible ways.

Nevil's lips were warm on his, stilling Shelton's protest. Nevil caressed Shelton's cheek with his thumb, wiping away a tear. "Is it for me?"

Shelton nodded, his gaze intent on Nevil's face as his lover opened the box. Nevil's hand froze, and Shelton grew anxious at his continued silence. At last Nevil turned his head to meet his stare. Shelton saw the tears clinging to his dark lashes and the happiness swimming in his eyes. Nevil asked him earnestly, “Are you sure?” Shelton nodded, his throat too constricted to speak. Nevil made a pleased sound as he took the white gold ring from its cushion. He traced the Celtic knot with a finger. 

Watching him, Shelton took a breath for courage. "I love you, Nevil. It's my promise to stay faithful to you." "It's lovely, and I'll wear it because I love you too." Nevil slipped the ring on his left hand, next to the small ruby Nevil's mother had given him years ago, and brought the ring to his lips. He took Shelton's hands in his and squeezed them gently. "Thank you. And Shelton, after last night, when I thought I might lose you… I can't imagine ever wanting to be with anyone but you for the rest of my life."

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the depths of my men. Discover them for yourselves here:

‘Shelton in Love’
Breathless Press, May 13, 2011 http://www.breathlesspress.org/Book/291
Amazon: http://amzn.to/kbL2b4

‘Shelton’s Promise’
Breathless Press, July 13, 2011 http://www.breathlesspress.org/Book/345
Amazon: http://amzn.to/nGt0xx

Dianne Hartsock
Blog: http://diannehartsock.wordpress.com/
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If you'd like to ask Dianne any questions, please feel free to do so in comments!


diannehartsock said...

Thanks for hosting me today! I adore your site.

Liz said...

a brilliant description of your character development Dianne. Shelton sounds amazing (TBR just got even LONGER!)

diannehartsock said...

Thanks, Liz. I really like my boys so it's easy to write about them. :)