Sassy Heroines, Exasperated Heroes, and Comedies of Manners
I admit it, I love the screwball comedies of the 40s and 50s (and earlier). And all of these great comedies have played a role in inspiring the world of Billion Dollar Headlines. And it’s probably why I love Ian and Merideth as much as I do.
These two characters, more so than any of my characters, dictate the story and when they don’t like where it’s headed, they have full on revolts. The Man on the Beach is on hiatus because of their current rebellion. The good news is that Jason is behaving, and as such, he is getting his own novel.
Anyway, when Merideth arrived in my brain, I didn’t see the steamer trunk and full-set of suitcases she brought in with her. If I had, I might have hesitated before putting her in The Girl in the River. She’s both my muse and critic, she’s the first one to tell me that she wouldn’t do that because she’s not stupid. She’s also the first to tell me when I got Ian wrong. Yep, my character knew my other characters better than I did.
Before I go on, I should probably include a bit about not being crazy. Like I am definitely not certifiable. I might be a bit of a loon, but nothing official. However, for me, my characters live within my mind. I have conversations with them, I argue with them, I aim to make their lives miserable, and in return, they help me write a better story.
Back to Merideth and Ian. These two could live comfortably in any screwball comedy. If The Girl in the River were ever to be made into a movie, Ian could only be played by Cary Grant, and only Katherine Hepburn would be capable of personifying the beauty of Merideth’s intelligence. Not like the books would ever be made into a movie though, which is probably a good thing since both Mr. Grant and Ms. Hepburn are no longer with us.
When I am in need of some serious inspiration, I go to The Philadelphia Story. A bowl of popcorn, a glass of wine, and Grant and Hepburn on screen, with a healthy dose of James Stewart is great at getting the story back on track. And when Merideth goes quiet, I only have to ask, “would CK or Tracy do this?”