Thursday, 30 July 2009

Hidden Feelings, Inner Thoughts.


A while ago, a bunch of us on another blog had a brief discussion about whether contemporary men have a deeper side to them. Well, of course they do! But then again, I would say that. It’s what I enjoy writing the most. I’m interested in the internal stuff; the internal dialogue and the sense of self. Perhaps it’s because of the work I’ve done in the past - the theatre is a place where emotions are always on show and you're surrounded by actors and singers whose job it is to show their deeper feelings to an audience by means of music, dialogue or soliloquy. Very often, as in real life, the persona a character presents to the outside world bears little or no relation to what’s really happening deep inside. In the case of ‘the hero,’ how he deals with this persona and these feelings is what interests me.

When it comes to ‘sense of self,’ Tony Valentino, my hero from A Different Kind of Honesty, has had to deal with more than most. As an undercover FBI agent, he’s spent much of his time ‘being’ another person – in his case, a full-on, player-type named Joey Pescolloni. While Tony and Joey were two different kinds of men, what interested me was how the real person inside – Tony – coped with this dual personality and double life. Well, the truth is, he coped fine. Most of the time.

“It was like being both, me and Joey, all at the same time. Him on the outside, me on the inside... “

Tony has accepted that he has to carry everything inside, rarely expressing his real, true self. That comes with the job, a job that can involve personal loss and major life changes. But Tony’s a professional. He’s trained to work that way, he can handle it. At least, he thought he could handle it, until the day he met Maggie Lawless and knew right away that she was ‘the one.’ In a world of secrets and half-truths, Tony has no choice but to keep the truth about himself hidden from her, and that means the relationship’s over before it’s barely begun. When he meets her again six months later, he knows he must explain.

“Maggie, I need to talk to you. About what happened before.”
She swung around to face him, forcing her brightest smile.
“You know, you don’t have to say a thing about that. I can guess how it was.”
“Can you?” He raised an eyebrow in surprise. She said nothing and he took a step towards her. “Maggie—”
“It’s okay.” She cut him off, unable to bear hearing him say her name if all he meant to do was to tell her what a mistake he’d made. “These things happen and then they’re best forgotten. I understand that.”
Tony drew a breath. “No, wait a second...there are things I should explain to you. Things you might not have understood......Yes, I asked you to dinner because it suited Joey, but as soon as we started talking, I mean, really talking—” He dropped his hands to his sides, facing her, breathing hard. “I was lying to you and I didn’t want to. But I had no choice.”


To say he’s met with a mixed response is an understatement! But now Tony has to let Maggie to come to terms with what happened between them all those months ago, and deep inside, he knows what choice he wants her to make. He wants her back. But Maggie may not feel the same way.

In the excerpt that follows, Tony goes to visit an old friend, and we find out a little more about what’s going on inside.

‘Tony slowed the silver Taurus to a halt and killed the engine. The clock on the dash showed ten after one. He glanced in the rear and side view mirrors, but didn’t see any other cars on the road. Besides, he’d done a couple of tortuous circuits of the area before finally pulling into the Linares’ driveway.
He got out and walked up the path in the full afternoon sun, noting Ramon’s old station wagon in front of the garage. Behind that, parked in front of the Taurus, stood a brand new red Ford Fusion he hadn’t seen before. He checked through the driver’s side windows. A map lay open on the passenger seat, and on the backseat, a light blue sweatshirt with a faded surfer logo and a woman’s red jean jacket. Next to those, a couple of small mineral water bottles with sports caps, one empty, and a copy of the week’s Time Out. As he walked around the car, he saw a sticker in the rear window that read ‘Star Car Rental, NYC, NY.’
Tony thought a moment. Ramon hadn’t mentioned any houseguests. It occurred to him the car might be a set up, but he dismissed the idea almost immediately. The types who might have wanted a couple of short-and-to-the-point words with him weren’t that subtle.
Shrieks and yells burst from the garden behind the house and he jerked his head up. A woman’s laughter and shouts of encouragement floated over sounds of children squealing and he recognized Nina Linares’ voice. Letting out a long breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding in, he closed his eyes and ran a hand over his forehead, wondering when the hell he’d forgotten how children’s games sounded. A knock on glass startled him and he looked up to see Ramon wave from the window and jab his finger towards the front door before he disappeared from view.
Tony walked over to the porch steps and turned to look back along the road he’d just driven. Very few houses sat out here and those that did were mostly obscured by bushy shrubs and mature trees. He didn’t see anyone, and it was doubtful anyone could have seen him. There were no cars parked on the street.
Despite the sunshine, a misty blue haze hung around the top of the hills beyond the valley, the way it always looked every time he’d visited. He’d last been here a couple of months back; before that, several years ago, before he’d gone undercover. The landscape had a Mediterranean look about it, the reason Ramon and Nina had chosen it as the place to make their home and bring up their three children.
Ramon sauntered down the front steps, relaxed in his weekend clothes instead of one of his tailored office suits.
“I heard the car. Glad you made it, my friend.” He clapped Tony on the shoulder. They shook hands then Tony returned his gaze to the view.
“Always looks so still. And the air tastes so good. Makes you think about what you’re breathing in the city.”
Ramon nodded his agreement. “Nina chose well. It reminds her of the mountains she knew as a child in Spain.”
“She still want to go back?”
“Ah, maybe one day.” Ramon shrugged, stroking his neat beard. “When we’re old and grey.” He looked at Tony. “What about you? You going to make that return trip to Italy you keep telling me about?”
“Sure, soon as I can. You know my folks went back there?”
“No, I didn’t know. To be near your brother and his family?”
“Paolo the hot-shot Rome lawyer, yeah. Seemed like the right thing for them to do, this time of their life. My dad decided he wanted to die where he was born. He’s not dead yet, though,” he added with a smile. “I’ll visit soon. When this case is over.”
“Relive a bit of your youth, huh?”
“Yeah. Last time, I was seventeen. Worked on my uncle’s farm a whole summer. Drove my aunt crazy, running around with the village teenagers at night.” He gave a short laugh at the memory. “She was all for sending me home, but my uncle bailed me out.”
Ramon nodded. “She’d be proud of you now, though.”
Tony turned to him in surprise, but Ramon kept his look directed at the distant hills. Tony looked at them too.
“Something else about that summer...I fell head over heels in love with the village beauty. Infatuated. She’d have nothing to do with me, though.” He smiled. “I don’t think she ever knew.”
“And it broke your foolish teenage heart?”
“Into a million pieces. And you know what? I can't even remember her name."
Ramon laughed. “C’mon. Nina is cooking paella to die for and there’s a cold beer out there with your name on it.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Ramon headed up the steps to the front door. Before he followed, Tony took one last look at the blue hills. He thought about the village beauty all those years back. Now there was another girl in the picture and it looked like she didn’t want to know either. Only this time, he hadn’t forgotten her name. This one was inked on his heart like a tattoo. And removing it would hurt like hell.’


A Different Kind of Honesty is published in print and e-book, and is available from The Wild Rose Press.

32 comments:

Lindsay Townsend said...

Very apt blog-post, Jane! As you show, a hero must have feelings and must be able to share them, and his deepest, inner self, with the heroine, or the relationship will not flourish. That is what comes out in your beautifully-written, 'A Different Kind of Honesty', which I have on my shelves as a keeper.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Thanks, Lindsay. I found the idea of Tony having to keep his real self hidden and still deal with his deep emotions fascinating. Lovely to be considered 'a keeper.' :)

Jane x

Sarah Simas said...

Great post!

A DIFFERENT KIND OF HONESTY sounds like a wonderful book to add to my TBR stack!

Kudos on being a "keeper!" LOL That's an awesome title to have!

Kathye Quick said...

I think I love Tony. What a complex character.

You are a true artist!

Cheryl said...

Hi Jane!

I really liked all your excerpts--I think I am falling in love with Tony myself...just a little...LOL I love these complexities you've set up for his character! It makes me want to read the book just to see how he gets out of it all and ends up with what he truly wants--the love he's been needing and wanting, but didn't realize it. This story looks so good. I can't wait to read it!
Cheryl

Celia Yeary said...

JANE--Of course your excerpt is great--it's about Tony, how could it not be? What interested me, though, was your insight into internal dialogue. This is my weakness when writing--I don't use it nearly enough, and I've been told to work on that. but I think it's something that you naturally have or you don't. I write thinking my readers will know how he feels by his actions--but that can only go so far. Now, I have a model to study--Thanks!! Celia

Linda Banche said...

Sounds like A Different Kind of Honesty is a secret identity story, just without the masks. **grins**. I love secret identity stories.

Laurean Brooks said...

Hey Jane!

This is wonderful! Don't know what else to say. What an excerpt and such vivid description! Not to mention the story pulled me in.

My take on the perfect hero? He should be sensitive to a woman's needs, protective, and there for her through the bad times. Add an aggravating sense of humor and you have the whole package.

Just by chance, my hero, Austin Grant is being interviewed today on Laurean's Lore. Pop over and tell me what you think of this "illustrious" character. LOL

Donna has already commented. "Jenny (my heroine) has her hands full." Hee-hee.

http://laureanslore.blogspot.com

Hugs, and keep up the beautiful writing. This is a God-given gift.

Laurie

Cindy K. Green said...

Hey Jane,
Love the way you paint your hero. He's definitely easy to fall in love with. This is a terrific book and I look forward to reading more from you. ;)

Linda Swift said...

Jane, I love your comments on the difference between what's on the outside and the inside of people. There is an old adage "still water runs deep" that seems apropos to these observations. As a former counselor, I couldn't agree with you more.
Wonderful excerpt. It's obvious you "read" your characters very well and that makes for great plots. Congratulations on your success and may it ocntinue.
Linda

K.M. Daughters said...

Really enjoyed your insights, Jane. I fell in love with Tony - and all your characters in A Different Kind of Honesty. I loved the book and admire you, the author! All the best - Pat (& Kathie)

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Thansk, Sarah! Well, if you ever do get to read it, I hope you like it!

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi, Kathye! Tony's easy to love - once you get to know the real person. Luckily Maggie somehow managed to see what was there underneath the 'front' and the complexity. (Just as well, really!) How lovely you've fallen for him from this one excerpt. :)

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hello Cheryl! I read and researched so much about those FBI guys and others in different fields who did undercover work. I still think it must be the most extraordinary experience, especially on a long-term basis. I'm full of admiration - talk about being a good actor. How you come out of that still sane....I dunno. But I hope I got some aspects of it right with Tony, anyway. If you do get a chance to read it, I do so hope it works out the way you'd like. I wonder if he does get what he truly wants?...!!! ;-))

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Celia! With Tony, in a way internal dialogue was easier to do because the character but have spent so much time simply watching, listening, observing...he'd probably have developed some very clear-thinkig, analytical skills. (my guess.) You could maybe just play a writing exercise, and not allow your character to do anything but just think! Actually, my weakness might be using it too much. I enjoy it so, it's easy to get all internal and then realise nothing has actually happened to move the story along for several pages - oops! Cutting back and writing tighter first time round are definitely skills I could use more of!

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Linda B, Blogger just ate my reply! I never thought of masks, now that would be a whole different sort of story...**big grin!** Tony isn't the only one, though. Maggie was a bit less up-front than she'd care to admit, but that's for another time...:)

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Laurean, your perfect hero sounds pretty good to me! I'll pop by and take a look-see later. :)

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Cindy, thank you thank you thank you. :) Watch this space!

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hello Linda S, YES, the 'still waters' idea is absolutely right, as well as the idea that our heroine is the only one who can negotiate those waters, and that's what makes them such a special couple. :) The outside/inside thing is so true, isn't it? So many times we hear ourselves say, 'well, I never expected that of him/her.' Some people really do play everything close to the chest. Luckily for Maggie, Tony opens up to her big-time later. Thank you so much for you kind words, I really do appreciate them. :)

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Pat and Kathie! How lovely to hear from you (everyone, check these gals out, the K M Daughters writers. Lovely ladies.) I know you loved the book, Pat. :) Your review still makes me glow! So nice to see you here. Thank you!

Jane x

Linda Banche said...

Jane, I didn't mean masks THAT way, but you're right--that would be an entirely different story.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

LOL, Linda! I knew you didn't, I just had a vision of something like those Venetian masks and mists, all secrecy and intrigue, and my mind went for a wander! :)

Jane x

Sheryl said...

Hiya Jane!

Just had to leave a quickie here as I most definitely did fall in love with Tony and Maggie!

I would have to agree with Celia about the internal dialogue conflict. I can’t resist a bit of that, but it can be a struggle. I sometimes have to remind myself “less is more”! Your internals are perfect m'dear. Seriously, I adored this book, Jane--and Perfect Strangers. More please!

Maggie Toussaint said...

I heart Tony. Sigh...

good thing my name is Maggie

Savanna Kougar said...

Jane, fantastic excerpt. I love the way your portray men and their feelings/emotions.

THANK YOU!

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Sheryl,
I guess it depends on the book, it would suit some but maybe not others so much...? 'Less is more' is a good mantra, I wish I could write 'less' so I didn't have to do so much 'more' on the second go-through. ;-) It's just lovely to hear from you.

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Tony says 'I love ya, Maggie. Always will.'
I can hear Maggie T sighing all the way across the ocean. ;-)

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Savanna, you are WELCOME! And thanks! :)

Jane x

Chelle Cordero said...

Terrific excerpt Jane and a great premise.

LOL, I think maybe we should get Tony and my recent hero Ryan (also undercover FBI agent) together to compare notes on hiding their true selves. Might make an interesting blog...

And I really love your title.

LK Hunsaker said...

Jane, I loved your development of Tony that let us in but not too awfully far, leaving us room for our own image of him. He came off as very deep indeed, and I like that in a hero. ;-)

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Chelle, now that WOULD make an interesting blog - let's compare notes. I'll have Tony's people call Ryan's people!
Thanks re the title. One of those rare 'Got it!' moments. :)

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi, LK, thank you! Yes, I like a deep hero too, but still with room for the reader to create her/his own pictures. Just enough, but not too much. :)

Jane x