I love fish out of water stories. It probably started when I read a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court back in elementary school. Time travel, some romance, medieval courts…who wouldn’t fall in love with that story! But since I’ve always felt like an outsider it really appealed to me because it was proof positive that an outsider could become an insider and I desperately needed that affirmation as a kid.
I’m much more comfortable with my outsider status these days though I will admit it’s nice, at times, to be on the inside. Living in Korea, I’m constantly reminded that I’m an outsider. It’s nothing intentional, mind you. People are walking down the street pointing and whispering. But it’s obvious. I’m back in the US for a few weeks (all hail the land of mobile data and Chinese take out). I was in NYC with my daughter for a day and I realized how diverse the city is. It’s similar for most major cities – you see such a range of differences that we all become insiders because we’re all outsiders in our own way. NYC was also hosting ComicCon and that’s gives a new definition to “different” if you’re not familiar with the event. Loved seeing all the attendees with their costumes! We were very jealous not to be able to attend also.
I think most of my characters are fishes-out-of-water and in their own way, they are looking to belong without changing the very core of who they are. That’s the key. How do you change without changing?
I try to use the GMC development to show that the characters are not really changing, that who they become is who they already were, they’d just hidden it or ignored it.
For instance, I have a heroine in Saving Sam named Grace. She was a supermodel before becoming an occupational therapist. As an up and coming model, she was always judged. Either people hated her for being “beautiful” or agents or photographers were pointing out her flaws. Then it’s all taken away. Now people just avoid her, not sure how to deal with her because of her former life, and judging her for new reasons. Her looks have always made her an outsider. Then she meets our hero, Sam. Sam is blind and his opinion of her is based on everything EXCEPT her looks. It’s a new world for her but she realizes over the course of the book that all she ever wanted was to be “seen” for something besides her looks.
The change becomes more of a recognition of this fact rather than a true change and that is both easier and more believable to me.
What’s your favorite story line to use in books?