As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson’s character, “How do you write women so well?” Nicholson responds, “I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability.”
In writing the Lillian Dove series, I wanted to try to put myself in Lillian’s shoes. How does she feel about men after having had an alcoholic father she never consciously blamed for his addiction and who she saw as a victim of Dahlia’s denial?
The series offers to male-companion choices for Lillian, so far:
Charles Kaefring: 42, Raven Black Hair with Clear Blue Eyes
Chief Charles Kaefring is who to Lillian seems the perfect example. He is a Liam Neeson type. Sturdy. Group-oriented. Outgoing. Practical, traditional and organized. Athletic but doesn’t have a membership in a gym. He wouldn’t. He is disciplined in a heathy lifestyle. He is a good citizen who values security and peaceful living. Loyal in all aspects of his life. Emotionally stable. He has a strong sense of purpose.
Only one problem, he’s married. His mentally ill wife hasn’t lived with him for several years, and he, on principal due to her condition and the vows he made to her, although she has encouraged him, he does not seek a divorce. This is a problem for Lillian, too. While she sees his loyalty as another plus, and she thinks a relationship with Charles, the Chief of the Frytown Police Department, would elevate the choices she has made about men in life, and would thus elevate her, she still feels morally conflicted.
LET IT GO has Charles continuing to want a relationship with Lillian. She easily slips with him and has vowed off men entirely, but she finds a “father-type” image in Charles, one she never had, that is hard to ignore. Only, Charles has added another situation. He has a daughter, Madeline (Molly). At first, Lillian sees this new information as Charles withholding secrets. She sees this as a possible flaw. The question in this book? Will Lillian come to accept a relationship with Charles no matter the flaws, to fulfill her own needs, or will she resist?
Jacque Leveque: Dark curly hair, younger than Charles. Dimples. Drives a Banana Yellow Corvette on and off duty.
Detective of Major Crimes, Jacque Leveque. Think Joseph Gordon-Levitt
I needed another male image that distinctly contrasted to Charles’s “fatherly” image. So, I created Jacque Leveque. We learn he matches a high standing professionally, or he did, in Book Two, Suppose, with having worked as a Federal Agent, and his father pointed out as the Director of the New York Office. But, in contrast to Charles’s stability, Leveque is very playful. Sexy not only in his looks, but those dimples, and the sexual allure he puts out. He notches his belt with women--or so it is rumored. Lillian thinks Leveque is only interested in her until someone better comes along. [Or something he likes better. [Maybe a thought he had about her Father, his choice of alcohol over her and his family.] She is afraid of slipping back to a man like Leveque and missing her opportunity with Charles.
Leveque doesn’t follow all the rules, yet his purpose is no different than Charles in that he is hardworking, conventional, respects authority, is fearless and confident. LET IT GO again entices Lillian with Leveque whereby the two bump heads when it comes to Lillian jumping into the criminal cases he is trying to solve, and doing a damn good job at it, whereby he comes to admire her, but still, while attracted, she worries about letting her impulses rule her emotions.
How do you write women so well? Nicholson responds, “I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.”
My challenge in writing these male characters in the series is keeping to Lillian’s viewpoint as she sees the men in her life. I might say:
I take away the ability to demonstrate emotional honesty and an inability to accept failure.