For years, Jim and Eve have shared breakfast every morning at the Early Bird Café. Their constant friendship, however, is thrown into chaos when Jim begins writing his second novel.
As I walk around in this old café, it is not only the setting of my book, The Early Bird Café, but it is a haunt for me. The worn linoleum floor squeaks familiarly under my feet, the mismatched salt and pepper sets among the tables fit just right in my hand. Even the dated cash register makes me want to keep coming back here when I need some relief from the daily grind. Such is the inner world that I visit as the setting of my debut novel.
People ask me how I wrote such a story. They say they never knew I had all of this inside of me. To me, it is not something that I created, but something that I’ve discovered inside of me over the years. I feel more like an explorer at times when I write. I am not bringing anything new to life, in my mind; I’m simply uncovering an inner world and reporting back to my readers with my findings. I’ve trod these streets on snowy, dreary days, my hands thrust deep in my pockets to thwart the cold. I’ve donned sunglasses to sneak a peek on hot afternoons, watching around the corners as my characters have gone on living out their lives. I’ve listened to a hundred conversations between Jim and Eve while sitting in the very next booth, never writing anything down; just listening.
I find that, the more I immerse myself in their world and get to know them, the better I am able to document what they’re doing, what they’re saying and what they’re not saying. So, I hate to disappoint those who insist that storyboards and outlines are the best way to go. I’ve never used any. There is no storyboard to map out one’s own life, and I find that such an approach doesn’t work for my characters in their own lives either. I just let the chips fall where they may and I see how things unfold for them.
That’s why I feel that Jim’s journal entries are such a good fit for the format of my novel. His entry at the end of every chapter is a sneak peek inside his mind much like my trips to the café are my sneak peek inside their world. To get inside his head is just as important for the reader as those times I would watch him prowl these streets clad in his leather jacket like a sexy yet forlorn rock star. As intimate as The Early Bird Café is, it is Jim’s journal that shows us just how much he hides from his best friend, Eve.
These hints at further mystery make me keep coming back here. As we discover just how private Jim keeps his innermost thoughts from his very best friend, how much could he be hiding from me, his author? I ponder this as I occupy the corner table and watch him cross the floor before me. Easing into the booth, he opens that journal laconically while Cassie pours him a perfect cup of coffee. He shirks the leather jacket from his broad shoulders, revealing a tight shirt that leaves nothing to the imagination. This author can see his mind working out something. Running his hand over an unshaved jaw, the pen begins a sentence in the journal in front of him but hesitates, then stops.
I watch his eyes glaze over as he stares out the window. He chews his lip absentmindedly. Dropping the pen for his cup of coffee, he runs a hand through his luscious brown curls, oblivious to me. This is why I became a writer. Because there are characters like this living in the inner world in my head that I don’t fully know - yet I just can’t resist. I have to know. What makes a guy like Jim tick? Why is he the man that he is? And who can save him?
Eve comes in the door, and one can almost sense his aura change. It is clear there is something mysterious about her that he is trying to unlock with his own writing. She’s got something that makes his eyes dance and his smile broaden. I feel a smug satisfaction at realizing that, for all the secrets he still hides, there is yet another who holds an ultimate secret from him.
As the author of this unique love story, I can’t wait to come back and watch it all unfold.
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About the Author