When I was in my twenties and nursing a broken heart from a terrible break-up, my dad said something to me that I never forgot. “Men always think something better might come along—they’re always looking around the next corner thinking—‘maybe I’ll find Farrah Fawcett there.’” At the time, my dad’s 1970’s reference sent me and my stepmother into peals of laughter, but it also stayed with me for many years after that. It was this comment that actually inspired Landon Kingsley, the main character of my novel, Song from the Ashes (coming out August 1st!).
Landon, a thirty-seven year old defense attorney, is an intensely private person. He doesn’t like for people to glimpse his imperfections, and he hides them by maintaining high walls around his ordered world. Living in the small town of Kingsport, Tennessee affords easy opportunity for everyone to know his business, but Landon’s careful manipulation of his social, family, and religious life allows him to sustain the veneer of self-control and righteousness.
Under the surface, however, Landon is teeming with doubts. Engaged to the young and beautiful April May, he is also drawn to April’s cousin, the older and more exciting Ella Casey. Landon feels that God is calling him to marry April, but he cannot stay away from Ella. At the same he agonizes over the love triangle, Landon attempts to come to terms with his past (his biological father’s abandonment, a college cheating scandal, a promiscuous dating life).
Landon is an inherently flawed character, which is what made him so much fun to create. He smokes cigarettes, but feels guilty enough to hide his vice. Even after committing his life to April, he finds he desperately wants to be with Ella. His infatuation with Ella Casey becomes a catalyst for everything in his life that is unsatisfactory and discontentment grows in his heart.
Humans in general are rarely content with what they have; usually, we’re looking for that next best thing whether it’s more beauty, money, status, or excitement. Because I see this glaring flaw in myself, I find struggling characters interesting to read and write about.
“Is it—in this world—vulgar to ask for more? To entreat a little wildness, a dark place or two in the soul?”—Katherine Mansfield
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. –Phillipians 4:11-13