I am an imperfect woman. A proud one. I have curves, I have bits that will never look the way I want them to, or the way society wants them to. My hair will always be a little too long, and then a little too short. My bum will always look a little too big, my eyebrows will never be symmetrical and I’ll never like the sound of my own voice. If that makes me imperfect, I am happy to stand up and admit it.
As a reader, I realized the main characters in books nowadays are hard to relate to. How many people work a 9-6 job, go to the gym afterwards, get home and cook a roast dinner and make it to bed in time to look fresh as a daisy the next morning? Translate that to ‘real life’. Tumble through the doors of the office at 9.05, trying to avoid eye contact with the boss because you’re late, work nine hours, no time to take a break longer than to shove a supermarket sandwich down your throat, and then pick up the pace on the walk to the train station to burn the calories you consumed when you just couldn’t say no to another chocolate digestive…or three. Get home after the commute and it’s 7pm. Go to the gym? Nope. Throw a ready-meal in the microwave, eat the food that bears a striking resemblance in taste to that of cardboard. Go to the gym? Nope, it’s already 8pm and by the time you get to the gym, you’ll have time to buy a drink out of the vending machine before it closes. Maybe tomorrow.
I think it makes stories incredibly difficult to relate if the main character is a stick thin, flawless gym bunny, who isn’t desperately trying to cram a to-do list a mile long into the few short hours known as a day.
As a writer, I decided to do something about that. Women aren’t ‘perfect’, if there ever is a true definition of the word, and we constantly have social expectations thrown in our faces in the form of TV shows and magazines. But has anyone considered that literature is doing the same thing?
So I pushed the boundaries with my debut novel Second Chance Hero, but not so much in the physical aspect. My main character, Jenna, has a bum and boobs and is by no means ‘perfect’. But what she does have is personality flaws that I think many women have. I have had readers tell me they wanted to shake her. After initially being offended that people didn’t love her, I realized them wanting to shake the life out of her was more of a compliment. They felt something for her, something strong enough for them to mention just how frustrated they were. Why? I think it’s because many of my readers can see a little themselves in Jenna.
Many times in life we are faced with a decision. Every day presents us with tens if not hundreds of choices that we must make, many of them going unnoticed. And we all reach that point where we’re standing at a crossroads and have to make a choice on which path to take.
Meet Jenna Rivera, the girl standing not only at the crossroads, but on the precipice of falling in love – the kind that will make it through anything – or finding herself shattered again, on her knees collecting up pieces of her broken heart.
Rewind five years, Jenna and Deacon are best friends. They attend university together, attended school together and before that, the same mother and baby groups. Best friends their whole lives they decide to take the plunge and cross the invisible line between friendship and something deeper.
Jenna is left feeling rejected and used, losing her best friend in the process. She shuts down, moves away from her family and creates a life for herself void of any real passion, never taking chances because the one she took backfired and left her with a heart made of stone. She finds herself in a relationship built solely out of comfort and the need to conform. At 26 years old, she knows she should be moving forward with her life, meeting a man and settling down. Meet Kip, self-absorbed stockbroker and Jenna’s boyfriend of ‘convenience’. On her 26th birthday she goes back to the town where it all began and the rollercoaster ride leaves the platform.
And then meet Deacon Reid, your next book boyfriend and the one who broke Jenna’s heart. Their reunion is a bittersweet one. Jenna is faced with the realization that she is still madly in love with him and always has been. But she also realizes how much they have both changed. Their frustration and feelings for each other create a cocktail of lust and obsession, anger and resentment, love and redemption.
And the affair begins. There are many opinions on affairs, and I might have written a story with a love triangle and adultery, but that doesn’t mean I agree with it. What I wanted to do was address it, and thus expose Jenna’s imperfections. She is stubborn and has created a thick, impenetrable skin. On the outside. She battles with everything internally – whether to end her relationship with Kip and give her love for Deacon another shot, or whether to stay with Kip and accept that she and Deacon had their chance and they let it pass them by.
When you think of the word ‘affair’, what comes to mind? Anger? Confusion? Many people are unable to understand why people cheat, thinking the choice is a simple one. But life is not black and white. There is no simple choice, no easy road to happiness. It is never easy to walk away from one person and into the arms of another without repercussions and the risk of asking yourself ‘what if?’. If love was that easy, would it be worth it? I think not.
Maybe that makes Jenna selfish, maybe it makes her a coward, but she is only human. I have had some backlash about the communication problems between Jenna and Deacon, but again it was something done intentionally. Many couples don’t communicate with each other, and it does lead to problems and disagreements and misinterpretations, but would the book have been as entertaining and thought-evoking if they had simply told each other how they feel in the first chapter? No. Do couples always discuss how they are feeling the minute a problem arises? No.
Jenna is not perfect. She lashes out at her family, she hides herself away, she is afraid of the decision she has to make, but isn’t that something we can all relate to? She has confidence issues, commitment issues and the love she feels for Deacon consumes her every thought and clouds her judgement. She knows what she wants, but she just can’t allow herself to grasp it because of her fear of rejection from the only man she knows she’ll ever love. If that makes her imperfect so be it, but it makes her relatable and real, and that is all I wanted.
Have a read of Second Chance Hero, see if you want to shake the life out of Jenna and scream at her to make the decision that you know is right. Then look at yourself. Do you feel the frustration because you see a tiny part of her in you?
All of my writing features characters with flaws, because, as Imperfect Women so accurately put it: We are all a working progress.
You can find Second Chance Hero via the links below and feel free to join me on facebook, twitter, or goodreads if you want to discuss or leave your comments.
Thank you to Imperfect Women for allowing me to explain why I created Jenna the way I did. I don’t feel like I need to ‘defend’ myself, but I did need to voice the reasoning behind my imperfect character, so thank you for letting me do that.
About the Author:
Rebecca Sherwin is a coffee drinking, music loving, full-time-mothering, writing insomniac. When she is not writing, she reading and when she is not reading she is squeezing her eyes shut and willing sleep to descend.
Rebecca writes about serious issues, giving the emotional turmoil a twist and adding a little humor and sarcasm. Primarily she writes for herself, using the words and scenarios in her head to escape to a world where fairy tales, true love and men who don’t leave their socks on the floor for days on end, exist. Rebecca’s writing aims to bring problems and tragedies that people face every day to light, make them relatable and leave her readers thinking long after they’ve read the last page.
If Rebecca can make one person smile, laugh, cry or get their heart racing with her writing, then she feels she has succeeded.
We have a great giveaway courtesy of Rebeca Sherwin!
Up for grabs are 15 eBook copies of Second Chance Hero.
To enter: Just leave a comment telling us how you feel about your fictional characters being imperfect? Will it stop you from reading the book?
Ends on 11/17/13 at 11:59 pm Eastern time.
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. We hereby release Facebook of any liability. Winner(s) will be contacted by email 72 hours after the giveaway ends. They have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. Must be over 18 to enter. Ends on 11/17/13 at 11:59 pm Eastern time. Imperfect Women did not receive compensation for this contest. They are also not responsible for prize shipment of the books. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & other social networks are in no way associated with this giveaway and are not responsible for anything involving this giveaway. Void where prohibited. Winners will be selected by Random.org.