Drew's My Favorite Character - Except For All the Others
Ok, so look, Abbot's actually my favorite character, except for Ned who is my all time fave if there wasn't Cooper, who is definitely top of the list but technically that spot's reserved for Sadie, Baxter, and Buttercup... plus Percy, who's coming to a romance novel near you as a side character in 'Royal Crowns and Horse Drawn Plows' and as our handsome, goofy, sentimental love interest in 'Royal Thrones and Telephones' (to be released... soon. soonish). And then there's Ned's dad, who we all love and I probably get more emails about than anyone else and there's Hal who you haven't even heard of yet and who I barely know, but is an emotionally thick-headed NHL goalie who just really needs a hug - the good news is that he gets one in 'Make the Iron Sing' which will be awesome... when it's written. Oh, and his best friend Gil is pretty amazing too, who we'll get to meet in 'Light up the Lamp' in his 'meet again as exes' story in which he, whoops, used to date his new coach. Eek.
But. Then there's Drew.
Sweet. Charming. Worried. Tries so hard. Wants to do it right, whatever 'it' is and whatever 'right' means, which half the time he doesn't even know. Loyal, stubborn, lovely, and so unsure of himself that half the time I want to pat him on the head and the other half I want to give him a good, solid push to get out there and find what it means to land on his feet.
I love the challenge of writing anxious characters. Some, like Ned, who are responding to a slump in their lives and who fear that any upswing will mean the inevitable tumble back to the bottom. Or those, like Whit, who worry so hard they bury it down deep, trying to keep their anxious thoughts from ever bubbling up to the surface for the fear of how powerful they are. And others, like Drew, who have worries woven into the fabric of their very being, as if he's got his own version of Eeyore's storm cloud following him around.
I never get tired of writing characters like that... or writing nice guys who are actually nice. One of the most important pieces of Drew's character as I developed him was the delight of how utterly kind, generous, and likable he is. As in, he's just a nice dude. Good-natured. Altruistic. Polite. Thoughtful, at least when he can get his head out of his own butt. Funny. Smart. Incredibly generous, invested in his friends' and family's happiness, and a joy to be around. Sure, he's got a couple flaws, but don't we all? Could have warmed up to Abelardo a bit sooner, and he probably would have if he weren't already having the Week from Hell and was clinging to the last threads of his emotional rope. Might have also put some puzzle pieces together a little quicker about Penny, what she's lost in her social circle when Cooper and Whit got together, and what that might mean for her life, but when he sees it, he changes, and does so on a dime.
And I think that's part of what makes him so interesting to me: he's this super compassionate, well-meaning, wonderful man, but when you mix him with a pile of worries, he can't get out of his own way. Like so many of us with anxiety, he's working with one hand tied behind his back, tripping himself up, and yet everyone in his life loves him for it. Cooper and Whit know his flaws, and embrace running a business with him, yoking their futures to his with no hesitation. And Penny, who could have given up on him a long time ago, still clings to this idea that she could have this considerate, tender, soft-hearted soul for her very own. She's willing to take his anxiety as part of the package, but isn't willing to lose herself in that deal. Which is how it should be: he can worry, he can be a mess, but he can't put her second. I love her for holding that line with him, and I love him for rising to the occasion the very moment he sees what the real problem is.
I always wanted to write Drew's story in a way that he doesn't leave his anxiety behind at the end of the novel, or 'overcome' it, or grow beyond it, because that's not how this type of chronic anxiety works. It will always be a part of him, but he can learn to make a certain peace with it, and have a relationship with Penny where they talk about his worries, meet them head on, instead of running away from them.
So yeah, Drew's my favorite. All the others are too, but Drew's someone very special to me - and it's been so much fun to write about him, because Whit, Cooper, and Penny each have that special love for him too.