I think it's inevitable when I'm writing to incorporate some of my quirks into my characters. In 'Thistle in the Mist', Meara MacDonald, my feisty Scottish protagonist, has the good fortune of sharing my flaws and like me, she sometimes has trouble suppressing her inner dork.
To begin with, Meara's lovely smile is marred by an annoying eye tooth that sticks out farther than the rest. I am fortunate to work for an orthodontist who thinks that my lower lip catching under my crooked upper tooth, so I have the appearance of a snarling dog, is counterproductive to the 'straight teeth are beautiful' message we were trying to send. My dog, Brian, has the same problem so when I see him discreetly holding his paw over his mouth and wiggling his lip to ‘uncatch’ his tooth, I politely look away. I know how embarrassing it can be.
Despite Meara's flowing red locks and moss green eyes, she is as flat as a board. When I was in grade ten I stuffed my bra and man did I look good. But after months of waiting for my 'growth spurt', and sick of rescuing displaced pads from under my arms, I stopped wearing them. My first mistake was thinking no one would notice. My second mistake was thinking my best friend would never try to embarrass me. As I walked down the hall with my boyfriend, my bestie passed and said to him, ‘Hey, so what’s it like dating the Great American Flatlands?' Nice.
Meara has a goofy way of laughing and as her beloved, Duncan points out, “Do ye ken, Meara MacDonald, that yer nose crinkles up verra prettily whenever ye open yer mouth wide to howl?” Well, that describes me to a T. I’ve always been conscious of the way my nose scrunches up and of my howling laughter. Meara is just lucky that I didn’t make her pee her drawers when she laughs – umm, not that I ever do.
My unfortunate heroine also has a tendency to obsess and overthink just about everything. I too have that nasty habit and no amount of Yoga, meditating or slow breathing can shut off this brain. Speaking of breathing exercises, is anyone else distracted by that odd whistle that accompanies deep breathing in the middle of the night? No? Me neither.
Well, my poor Meara is probably going to have a few stretch marks and maybe even some morning breath in my sequel, 'Lost to the Mist' and if she has any more children I won't be responsible if she occasionally pees when she laughs...or sneezes.
In my opinion it's much more interesting to read about someone who wakes up looking like they slept in a ditch then the well-endowed, raven-haired beauty with eyes the colour of the ocean, who wakes up with minty breath and dewy skin.
But that's just my opinion.