• Beth Henderson/J.B. Dane

30 Years in the Making: A 20th Century Historical -- SUPERSTAR

When the hero in your story is a rock star who writes his own music, an author needs some inspiration.

I actually began work on this story around 1986 and, though it was going to take the main characters far more than my usual couple days to couple months to do all I intended them to do, I thought it was a contemporary. Well, it was supposed to wrap up in 1986 or shortly after that. I was pre-published, holding down a full time job, had two elementary school aged stepsons to see to (you know, feed, force to do homework, take baths), and had finally decided I needed a college degree to get out of my round of low paying, hamster wheel like jobs, so was also taking three courses a semester. Yeah, the era of the "superwoman" who could do it all. But this story had a mind of it's own.

Or at least the hero, Paul Montgomery, did. He did something I was stunned to find had spilled from my fingers onto the sheet of paper in my electric typewriter -- yep, still didn't have a home PC at that point. But because Paul changed the plan on me, I stopped working on his story. Yeah, like that would teach him or something, right?

Characters are worse than children -- or husbands. None of them follow directions well.

The weird thing is that I've found the characters come up with a better story. That's what Paul was doing.

However, I had more than enough things on my plate, so I filed him.

When I finally managed to get a home computer, I rekeyed what's I'd written and added a bit more, and what happened? More of the "YOU DID WHAT?!!!!!" reactions.

I returned to this story and repeatedly put it aside once I was published and had finished the BA and moved on to a MA. I did the same pick it up, add a bit, be flabbergasted and stop for years again.

Finally, I decided to make it my project for National Novel Writing Month. We were in the 21st century now. Husband and stepsons were history, I had finished the Masters and was teaching English Composition AND Novel Writing at a local college. And I'd been published for over 20 years now and still hadn't finished this story.

And yet it was no where near done. I'd passed the usual word count for romantic fiction, but I knew that, while a romance, this had evolved into a historical where the focus wasn't on the romance, though at the same time it was -- just not in the genre world. And it was still not done.

As National Novel Writing Month approached in 2014, I swore I was going to finish it. Surely within 50,000 words I could get Paul Montgomery's story told. For by this time it was definitely Paul's story even though the love of his life was still on board and getting nearly equal attention.

And I say "nearly" because I actually prefer hanging out with my hero.

Did I finish it by the end of November that year? Well, no, but within a further week I had. And it was over 156,000 words long.

The current cut is what I might call "The Director's Cut" except some scenes I really liked ending up on the cutting room floor. It's still long, but not as long as it once was.

It is without a doubt my favorite story. It covers 30 years in my character's lives, beginning in 1964 and ending (happily, thank goodness) in 1994.

That's what makes it an historical. Even when I finished telling it, the end was just shy of 25 years in the past.

What's the theme? You might say the pull or drive or need to be a success in a chosen career field over love. But it could also be that true love will continue to hang in there, waiting for the chance to trump career.

I open Superstar and read it a couple times a year because, after all this time, all these decades of Paul hanging around my muse's office asking if I'm ready to raise the curtain again, put him back on stage, I miss him. Nice to know I can always visit.

Yeah, I love this story. I love the hero. Oddly enough, other people do, too. One told me she hated leaving Paul and Rory on that final page. Another person gushed to her mother about the book who then gushed about how much she loved the story and the characters, and they bought copies to give to other friends as Christmas presents. A writer friend says, "this is the best book you've ever written" and I've had quite a few people look at me and say "Paul -- oh my God, Paul!" I think they liked him.

I'd run away with him despite his foibles. Or maybe because he has them. Definitely a character with feet of clay, as another person described him.

The story might have been 30 years in the making and cover 30 years (oh, there are lots of years skipped over, so it isn't a day-to-day accounting like my shorter stuff tends to be), but it was a great 30 years years of hanging out with characters I really loved.

Well, that and heading back to a past that I shared with this couple. Since Paul is a rock 'n' roll superstar, there was even a sound track!

If you'd like to meet Paul and the rest of the cast, pick up a copy from Amazon: getbook.at/SUPERSTAR