Today, Musetracks welcomes vocalist, wedding planner, and, oh yeah, contemporary romance writer, Christi Barth. Our sassy guest chats about back story, quirks, and cocktails.
Okay, got my mimosa in hand. Take it away, Christi!
Lifting A Glass To My Characters
You’re reading the title wondering how much of a lush I am, right? Well, I do enjoy a glass of wine or three. But this post is about a serious craft topic – backstory. We all start out with an idea, probably a whopping single sentence. Before trying to mold that into a 97,000 word book, the backstory magic has to happen. Sure, there are the basics, like how many siblings the hero has (which can directly relate to how many books you want to churn out into a series), his job, where he went to college, etc. Some people-not me, because I’m simply too lazy-write entire bios on each character, with vision boards and fancy charts. The amount of time spent creating a backstory can amp up your character’s depth.
I write funny contemporary romances, so my characters all have a few quirks. Not too many, of course, because I don’t want them to slide over that line towards annoying. But the way to add real depth is to find a single, signature ‘thing’. For some, it may be a sports team addiction. For others, the inability to sleep without a stuffed octopus (ooh, that’s good. I might use that some day). In my recent release Planning for Love, it comes down to the cocktail. My hero thinks he can figure people out just by learning their favorite cocktail.
“Tell me, Ms. Rhodes, what’s your favorite drink?” Ben pressed her head into the hollow below his collarbone, gently trailing his fingertips back and forth across the nape of her neck.
The answer required no thought whatsoever. Good thing, since her thoughts were centered on the flutters of sensation he raised, like dandelion seeds floating outward on a warm breeze. Bubbly and romantic, she named the first cocktail she’d legally ordered eight years ago and could never resist. “Kir royale.”
“No surprise there. It’s classy, old school and sweet. Just like you. See, you can tell a lot about a person by their drink.”
“Really? What’s yours?” she countered.
“Scotch. Johnnie Walker Green. I got hooked on their Pure Malt when I worked in London for a while. When they finally started selling it here as the Green label, I knew I could safely return to the States.”
Ivy pondered for a minute. “I’m not sure it gives me any great insight. Maybe that you like to travel?”
“You get a point for trying. What sets this scotch apart is the flavor. As a blend, it’s the sum of all its parts. The taste is creamy and complex, just like a woman.”
Her heart thudded a triple time beat. Ben oozed sensuality, his words spinning a web of desire. “Guess I should be careful before I ask about your favorite food. Our conversation might need to come with an R rating.”
That one tiny bit of time I spent figuring out what each of my characters like to drink revealed so much about their personalities. Seemingly trivial, in fact it exposed quite a bit. Not to mention, it gave me the perfect drink to celebrate with on release day!
Planning for Love Blurb:
Hopeless romantic Ivy Rhodes
anti-Cupid Bennett Westcott
request the pleasure of your company for
their disaster of a courtship
Wedding planner Ivy Rhodes is the best in the business, and she’s not about to let a personal problem stop her from getting ahead. So when she gets an offer to star in the reality TV show Planning for Love, it doesn’t matter that the show’s videographer happens to be a recent—and heartbreaking—one-night stand.
Bennett Westcott can admit that he didn’t handle his encounter with Ivy very well. But looking at her beautiful smile—and, okay, great body—through the lens of a camera every day? He can’t be faulted for suggesting they have a little no-strings fun.
The more time Bennett and Ivy spend together, the more he realizes that Ivy isn’t the wedding-crazed bridezilla he’d imagined. But if he doesn’t trust himself to make a relationship last, how can he convince Ivy to give him another chance?
Want more? Here’s another excerpt!
“I want to taste you, Ivy.” The scrape of his feet against the stones came to a halt. A gentle nudge with his forehead tipped her head back. Their eyes locked. “Why don’t we get a jump on the inevitable? Because I don’t want to wait another moment.”
Ivy had a split second to decide. Stick to her guns—and her professional ethics—and slip out of his arms? Or stay and lock lips with a super sexy man in the moonlight? Really, it was easiest to not decide at all. Her eyelids drifted shut as she waited for Ben to make his move. And waited. Nothing happened. She peeked out from beneath her lashes to see the merest hint of a smirk lifting the edges of Ben’s mouth. Her eyes flew open the rest of the way.
“What? What happened to the tasting and the moment?”
“The moment’s not right until you decide to commit to it. I promised earlier I wouldn’t steal any more kisses from you. Kissing is interactive. A two-way street. You’ve got to choose to slide behind the wheel and turn the key.”
Why did men turn everything in life into a car metaphor? Well, she could play along. Despite showing every sign of being something of a player, Ben had shown her, with that one little pause, that he also had bucket loads of integrity. No sane, single woman could turn down an honest to goodness gentleman. They were a rare breed, and she didn’t intend to waste this particular chance sighting. Time to seize the day…or at least what was left of the night.
“Oh, my motor’s fully revved. You’d better buckle your seatbelt, Mr. Westcott.”
Ivy tightened her grip around his neck and went up on her tiptoes to reach his mouth. The mouth she’d stared at off and on all day, remembering the firm albeit brief feel of his lips against hers. He wasn’t the only one who wanted a taste. She puckered up and planted a soft kiss. And then Ben quite expertly elbowed his way back into the driver’s seat.
His lips slanted hard across hers, instantly ratcheting the level of heat up from tender to full on sizzle. This was no getting-to-know-you smooch. Ben claimed her mouth with possessive pressure. His teeth nibbled open her lips, allowing his tongue to sweep inside. Her moan of pleasure was all the urging he needed to slide his hands down to not only cup her ass, but lift her off the ground.
Ivy’s world spun. Under the spell of the spring night, she’d yearned for nothing more than a touch, a quiet kiss. She’d wanted a sip of water to slake her lustful thirst. Instead, Ben’s kisses drowned her in a downpour of passion and heat. The arch of her foot curved around his calf, looking for something to ground her. Each stroke of his tongue ignited an array of sparks behind her closed eyes. He tore his mouth away but hovered his lips a breath away from hers. Eyes heavy lidded, he moved not at all, aside from the pounding of his heart thumping through his tuxedo shirt. Suddenly, she realized what he waited to hear.
“Okay, Ben. You’ve convinced me to have a drink with you.”
A hum of approval sounded low in his throat. He buried his face in the curve of her neck. And then from somewhere behind them, a short high gasp, and the unmistakable crash of glass breaking on the stone floor. Ben’s grip bobbled, but he didn’t drop her.
“Get your hands off my friend’s ass right now, or I’ll call in someone a lot bigger than me to make you.”
Christi’s Bio and Links:
Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance. Christi lives in Maryland with her husband.