Good books inspire most people to read.
Badly written books inspire some people to write.
And that’s how I ended up creating Thomi.
Okay, good books inspire people to write, too. After all, that’s how I first started-back there in the fifth grade, getting all fired up with the Tales of the Arabian Nights…
But, really, a badly written book generally fills one with a burning desire to do a similar story better than this malarkey you just tossed in the furthest corner of your bedroom.
Or, in my case, the kitchen. Single at the time in 1972, I read at the table during meals. I also lived in the kitchen during the coldest winter months…which is when I read the most. My twin bed in one corner…hot cocoa and snacks nearby…dogs and cats all comfy next to me and each other…
Only, the book stinks! Aughhhh!!!
Okay, to be fair, I liked the storyline. And for that reason, I suffered through reading the book. Took me the whole winter to read a 295-page book I could normally read in an afternoon. Read other books in between tosses. Each time I picked that paperback up, the idea of writing a better story using a similar storyline burned brighter. Man, if this could get published, anything could!
New pens and new paper before me, I began creating my new world.
The cliff scene at the beginning, the urgent need for a substitute fiancée are about the only things I kept. Of course, the action and the characters are very different. I wasn’t crazy about their personalities, but more than that, I was tired of the orphan thing. I hadn’t any knowledge of “exotic” settings, and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with our own back yard. Can’t remember where the original story was set, but my book would take place here in the US on the east coast.
You’ll never convince me that great stories happen only in “exotic” settings, or that bad things happen only to persons of small families, or those from single parent homes, or to orphans. That only they are in situations where they need (or are forced) to solve their own problems.
What? There’re no problems in a large family? Large families are more loving than small ones, so there’s ALWAYS someone to gallop to your rescue? You don’t have to be accountable for your actions in a large family? Large families are always rich families? Doubt that!
Of course, this could all be because you’re supposed to have only this or that many characters in any given novel. Heh! Rules! Toss ’em! Bring in the big families and let’s have some fun! Being a part of a large family does not mean one’s life is full of rescues. That your relatives will speed to your side whenever you need them. Not gonna happen all the time, most of the time, or even any time, in most cases. You got yourself into this, you get yourself out! Or—they’ll promise help, but never follow through.
Everyone–rich, poor, pretty, ugly, well built, skinny, fat, orphan, only son/daughter, only child period, eldest/youngest/middle of no matter how many, male, female–doesn’t matter where one lives–has the same opportunity to make decisions, screw up and then figure out how to fix the mess.
To finally arrive at a happily ever after 🙂 –or not . . . 🙁
I don’t know about you, but I see lots of conflict in that! Saw it then, so I ran with it.
These people needed names, so I wrote a list of all the ones I’d like to use if I had kids–fifteen names. The Tollefsons were born.
Well, actually, the Georges were born. That surname didn’t work for long, so, I tried Ehlanburg. But Thomi’s parents let me know that wouldn’t be it either, so I was on the search again. And in a small specialty record shop in Hartford, CT, I found it on the back cover of an album of Norwegian folk songs. Now, the Tollefsons were born!
Thomi, in the beginning, was the eldest of the thirteen kids. I’m not sure at what point she and Rikki and Halleigh became triplets and dropped to fifth, sixth and seventh place. Brett and Tristen, elevated to third and fourth born, were twins, as were–are–Daine and Stacia–who continue in their roles as youngest. Brett didn’t want to be a twin, however, so I gave him his wish and paired Tristen with Adrien. They were all happy with that. Geoffrey and Nicky, then fifteen and fourteen, took over the roles of first and second born. And opened the way for more romances to happen.
The first chapter of the story is pretty much the exact same way as it happened originally. Except, that Charley was a naval officer then. My brother served in the Navy in the ’70s and was stationed for much of his time in Newport, RI. In visiting him there at the naval base, I fell in love with the area. The beaches, the mansions, the feeling of history all around.
I changed the setting of my story from Nowhere in Anystate, to Kingsdale and Littleton-by-the-Sea, RI. Originally, Kingsdale was situated between the real towns of Peacedale and Kingston. But then, I decided that Nick and Anetra Tollefson’s riding stable, DreamWind Equestrian Center, should be located near a beach, so moved it to somewhere between Portsmouth and Middletown. Nice beaches nearby, and plenty of wooded trails and meadows. Perfect.
In 1981, I moved to Upper New York State. Great horse country. I bestow Stephan’s family with property in the Adirondacks.
Feedback from another author exposed a few flaws. My mentor had no problem with Thomi’s family, but she did have with Stephan’s cousins, Storm and Kourtnay, and advised me to ditch them. They brought nothing to the story.
Well, I wanted to keep them. So, after some thought and hard work, I solved that problem. Stormi’s now in tremendous danger, but only a handful of people are truly aware of that. Thomi’s one of them. I won’t say more, for it’ll give things away too much!
I finished the book, then entitled, Thomi, or, A Favor For A Favor, in 1982, but the manuscript was destroyed before I could type the final draft. For a time, it left me depressed and certain I could never recreate it a second time. However, Thomi, her family, and Stephan and his family wouldn’t let me walk away from them. Unpacking after one of my many moves, I found an incomplete outline, the first two or three chapters, and a few notes tucked away in a folder I thought I’d lost and became all fired up once again.
Too, by this time, I’d married and had three boys of my own and a stepson, which only added to my experiences and served to make the story stronger. In many respects, it turned out quite different from what I’d originally written. But, much, much better! In a way, it was good it’d been lost.
I changed the title to The Courting of Thomasyna, and finally to For The Love Of Thomi.
Computers happened for me in 1993, and revisions became so much easier. A 1280 page hand written manuscript became around 800, or so, double spaced. Half that, single spaced and on the smallest possible font.
My creativity seemed to double after that. As if my brain were freer to think and plan and create. I discerned a couple of flaws in the plot, realized Thomi had to deal more head on with Charley’s abuse and to see she didn’t need to do it alone.
Unlike the orphaned heroine in the original story, Thomi isn’t penniless herself. Not wealthy in the same vein as Stephan, but an actress famed enough to be in some demand. She just doesn’t keep it all for herself. Which can land her in some trouble occasionally since she’ll give without question to certain ones . . . like Charley . . . (who now is a fellow actor instead of a naval officer.) …and has a gambling problem . . . a huge gambling problem . . . I needed to make this all more integral to the story.
Thomasyna gives more than her money, though, to charities. She gives her time. And that had to become a larger part of the conflict in the story. Lots of ends to tie up!
Thomi’s story leads into Stormi’s story with Joleigh’s overlapping both. I’ve plans for Rikki and Halleigh and Lyndsay and possibly Stephan’s sister, Dyane. Kourtnay’s will be resolved along with sister Stormi’s. I plan one for Nick and Anetra, with Irina and Greggory Deverill’s being told along with it. And last, but not least, there’s the tale of Nick’s great grandmother, Kate of the Oglala. God willing, I’ll write that one as well. One of my friends wanted to be in a story, and I think I know who to pair her up with. Hope she’ll be happy!
Since Thomi’s world is peopled by more than just herself and Stephan, I felt the convenience of a list of characters would be helpful to those who might be boggled by so large a cast.
I found working with a large family with many multiple births afforded a lot of great opportunities for conflict and humor. They became as close to me, after these forty plus years as any real family could be. Which, I suppose, is another reason they have to become a series!