I think one of the hardest scenes I had to write in RED AS BLUE is when I had to turn a beautifully extroverted character, Beverly Enright, into a beautifully dark introvert. And this was very hard to do because she has to go through a real transformation—and I didn’t know how Beverly could suddenly be so introspective. It was a challenge because the girl she’s in love with is an introvert—so you don’t want two introverts sounding like the same person.
My solution was that I had to jump inside Beverly. I had to put a bit of myself into her. I made her say the kinds of things that I would say—and to express inner realizations that I experienced. All the thoughts that I’ve kept to myself about the loneliest nights I’ve had, I’ve given it to Beverly to say. I made it sound like it was coming out of her; and it did…and then she took over. She started to say things I could not think of…and she took off running. In some strange way, I felt as if I’ve given Beverly a gift. And she had been waiting for it.
I wrote a blog a few months ago about a plant that only blossoms once in the middle of the night and then it dies. I’ve been fascinated with that plant for many years now because I’ve witnessed it twice in my life: once in my mother’s home (because she owns this plant) and again, when a friend of mine clipped off a piece of the plant and gave it to me to watch it bloom that very night. It was a deliciously sad affair because you’re seeing this beautiful thing give100% itself to life and then slowly retreat to the other side.
It was a big stretch to bring Beverly into this—but I had already started a theme on gardening and plants early in the novel; and her uncle and mom felt that dealing with plants would be therapeutic.
By the time Beverly turns into an introvert in the story, she and her lover had already been through a lot of pain; probably more than the average person can bear. Originally, I kept this scene very sparse, it was only half a page long. I rewrote it and now it is 5 pages long. The book badly needed a Beverly soliloquy. It’s the only time that you really get into Beverly’s head and the only time she truly bears her soul. Everything else in her cheerleader life has been a front and the only person she could tell these things to—was naturally, to another introvert.
When I started to hit a wall, writing three different versions of Beverly’s monologue, I finally had to give up some of my secrets to her. I made her talk about the plant that lives for only for one night and comes back alive—but only in the darkness. This was a strange experience, because Beverly took the piece of information as an actor would, and she created from it. I’m sitting there typing, and she’s bringing her own words to the story, inventing her experience with what I’ve given her. I’ve never seen anything like this.
I have a bit of a confession. I feel like a cheater. I’m nothing more than a slaving machine to the character’s world.
I am just transcribing what they tell me to say.
What do you know about “dark?”
I know that it’s hard to survive in like the desert. I know that it makes me feel alone. But I also know that because nothing survives in the desert, the things that do, become strong. I know that plants don’t drink lots of water but they drink light.