"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Friday, May 8, 2009

BFFs: Best Fantasy Friends

In my first, beautifully written, horribly plotted novel, I based my characters on a lot of people I know, or knew. From old boyfriends to current girl buddies, I pulled out practically everyone I ever met and gave them at least a walk-on role. Turns out, it was a little crowded in those pages, which is only one of the million things wrong with the book.

For some reason, when I got the idea for Freezer Burn, I based almost none of my characters on people I know. Peri has some of my traits, but I don't know anyone like her. I've definitely never met anyone like her client, Benny Needles. The rest of the characters are combinations of different types of people I've met. I have one woman who supervises the local homeless shelter who is an example of every highly strung soccer mom I've ever met, plus I threw in an old friend who was tightly wound AND had no filters on her brain.

But there is one character in my book I based on a person. Blanche Debussy is Peri's best friend. Blanche Debussy is Suzanne Pleshette.

That throaty voice, that no-nonsense attitude, I wanted it all for Blanche. She and Peri have been best friends since high school, even when their paths diverged. While Peri was picking out the wrong men to have disastrous marriages, Blanche met her husband, Paul, when she was at Cal Poly Pomona, studying biology, married him and had two kids. During Peri's various careers, at the local newspaper and ultimately opening her own housecleaning business, Blanche went on to become the Assistant Deputy Coroner for the Orange County Sheriff's department.

I wanted Peri to have a best buddy who was not like her, not just because I wanted distinct characters, but because I had been reading too many advice columns where twenty-somethings were whining about their declining friendships.

"Dear Abby, all my girlfriends are having babies and all they want to talk about is breastfeeding and diapers. I'm bored. Why don't they want to go out and party anymore?"

"Dear Prudence, I recently had a baby. She's absolutely adorable and so gifted, for only three days old. But my girlfriends act like she's a drag. How can I get them to understand she's the only thing that matters to me?"

Bleah. Get a grip, you selfish little terriers.

I wanted to show two women who've always led completely different lives, yet are still friends. I imagine how happy Peri was at the birth of Blanche's kids. I picture Blanche being Peri's matron of honor for each ceremony. I also see her giving Peri her shoulder to cry on when each marriage ended. After all these years, they don't worry about drifting apart. They still find something to talk about.

Who better to fill that role than Suzanne Pleshette. Can't you hear that laugh of hers when Peri cracks wise? I can. Cause I wanted Emily Hartley to be my best friend.

What about you? What character/personality would you like to have as your BFF?


Jina Bacarr said...

Re: BFF character traits--loyalty and honesty. I have such a friend--she's always there for me when I'm feeling low and yet she's not afraid to tell me what she really thinks.

She's the sister I never had.



Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I like Pleshette, too--especially her performance in "The Birds." Thought she was much more interesting than Tippy Hedrin.

Hmm... I'm going wayyy back in time here, but I always thought it would be cool to have Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew as my BFF...

Elle Parker said...

Oooo...interesting question!

Right off the top of my head, I think I'd say Garcia in Criminal Minds. I bet we'd have a blast.

Elle Parker

Gayle Carline said...

Great comments here! I'd love to stay and chat about each one (Babs, Karen, really?) but I've got to run to the ranch and fulfill my duties, miles to go before I sleep and all that. I'll try to get back here this afternoon and visit with you all.

Karen Brees said...

Can't think of an actress offhand, but I have found that friendships come in different categories. If you're blessed with a few good friends, you are blessed indeed.

N A Sharpe said...

Love your blog and your writing style. Its like visiting with an old friend. Your descriptions of Peri are witty and intriguing. I am definitely going to have to check out Freezer Burn.

NA Sharpe

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