Today, we welcome Lani Diane Rich to the round pen. Lani is an award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels. Currently she’s writing romantic fantasy for St. Martin’s Press as Lucy March. The third installment in her popular Nodaway Falls series, For Love or Magic, is available now. She is also one-half of the award-winning podcasting team at StoryWonk, with her husband, story expert Alastair Stephens. Together, they produce multiple story-focused podcasts covering everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Star Wars. She has been teaching writing workshops across the country since 2004, and is an adjunct professor at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School for Public Communications teaching… what else?… storytelling.
Take it away, Lani...
Warning Spoilerphobes: This blog post contains some minor spoilers for the second book in the Nodaway Falls series, That Touch of Magic.
Before I get started, I want to say thank you to Nan and all the Word Wranglers for letting me hang out with you guys today! It’s an honor to hang with such a cool crowd, and since I feel comfy here, I’m going to reveal something a little personal to you guys.
I love a redemptive story line.
There’s something about taking someone who has done real wrong, who has screwed up on a monumental scale, and bringing them back. How do you do it? How do you forgive someone, get him to forgive himself, and redeem him? It’s an interesting question, and one I got the chance to play with in For Love or Magic (available today!)
For the character of Desmond (who was the villain of the second book in the series, That Touch of Magic) I had to bring him back from endangering a lot of beloved characters in Nodaway Falls, and actually physically assaulting Stacy Easter, that book’s heroines. He wasn’t a deranged murderer, but he came close. He did sort of have an excuse… he was under a magical influence that separated him from his empathy. It was fun to write him in that circumstance, because Stacy’s mother, Lillith, also had no empathy, but that was the result of a very mundane personality disorder.
So what is someone to do once their empathy has been restored, and they have to face their action? I would have expected Desmond to run off; after all, he wasn’t from Nodaway Falls. Everyone hated him (with good reason) and there was nothing and nobody keeping him there, but as we discover in the beginning of For Love or Magic, he’s still there, watching over and quietly trying to protect the very people who hated him.
It was fun to write, because redemption has to be earned, and Desmond really has to work through it in For Love or Magic. Eliot, our plucky protagonist, is also new to town, and she only sees Desmond as he is, not as he was. She also has enough personal experience with loving flawed men that she can see what Desmond can’t; that your past doesn’t define you. Ever. You can always pick up and keep going and do better, at any point. Even though she’s struggling with demons from her past as well, including the ghost of her dead husband and the very real threat coming from a father she both loves and detests, she has the ability to see things Desmond can’t see for himself, and he can see through her as well. Pairing these two, one in search of redemption and the other trying to forgive, was a lot of fun. I know it sounds really deep and navel-gazey, but I love combining deep thoughts with humor and silliness, so there are plenty of laughs as well!
So if you pick up a copy of For Love or Magic, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this. Does Desmond earn his forgiveness? Is there a point past which someone can’t be redeemed? Do you agree with Eliot, that everyone is a mixture of saint and sinner? Or do you agree with Desmond, that some things can never be made right?
Thanks so much, again, to the Word Wranglers for hosting me here today! And if you read the book, please get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!
Lucy March/Lani Diane Rich