Blame It On Too Many Soap Operas and My Misspent Youth

TV SetSometimes people ask me what motivated me to become an author, or why I write contemporary romance. Well, blame it on my misspent youth, because for many, many years, I was a soap opera junkie. It started when I was in about the sixth grade, and it lasted through high school and college, and into adulthood. I can even blame it on my mother too. Instead of telling me to go do something more productive with my time, she got me started on her soaps.

I used to schedule my college classes around my soaps. (Yes, there actually was a time when we didn’t have the Internet, the Soap Opera Network, or iTunes.) Having my first VCR was a truly liberating experience. I could have a life since I could now tape my soaps and watch them at my convenience, and I taped my favorite soap everyday for a good twenty years.

So, what was it about soap operas that was so compelling?  According to Mrs. Fields, my high school drama teacher, soap operas were real life, exaggerated. Back in the day when soap operas relied on classic plot lines, such as extra-marital affairs, illegitimate children, and long-lost family members, viewers could make a connection because they were believable stories.

The other thing that made the soaps so compelling was, I believe, the characters. I never watched All My Children, but I certainly know who Erica Kane was. Another unforgettable soap character, and one of my all-time favorites, was Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of our Lives. Having two great actresses, Susan Lucci and Deidre Hall, play those parts certainly helped, but behind those two talented actresses were talented writers who helped transform these fictitious characters into believable, three-dimensional people.

So, looking back, that was my inspiration. I too strive to create believable, three-dimensional characters–Ian Palmer, Gillian Matthews, Carrie Daniels and Alex Montoya. I also work hard to create believable stories, with plot lines similar to soap operas. My stories are about characters who get involved with the wrong people, long-lost lovers who are reunited, and people who are betrayed by the ones they trust the most. In other words, real life, somewhat exaggerated.

MM