Rewrites of the Heart by Terry Newman Genre: Paranormal Romantic Comedy
JJ Spritely, romance author, writes characters that jump off the page. Figuratively, that is. She never expects them to make a literal leap smack dab into her world. But Alex Zurich and Blake Teesdale do just that. And they’re on a mission to help JJ write her own personal love story with a man she recently met, Kennedy King Cooper.
A history professor, Cooper doesn’t see the value of romance novels and he has even less regard for those who write them. Until he meets a woman who haunts his thoughts.
There’s only one small snag in Alex’s and Blake’s plan…okay…two rather large snags. JJ wants nothing to do with Cooper. The other snag? Alex and Blake aren’t able to return to the pages of their own book.
Will JJ and Cooper write their own love story? And will Alex and Blake find their way back to their own world?
“I’m having a problem dealing with this. Up until yesterday the two of you were only alive in my imagination. You weren’t physically living in my office. No offense.”
“None taken.” The couple looked at each other to ensure they were in agreement on this one. Apparently, they were.
“But now, suddenly you literally pop up out of nowhere claiming to be characters from my book. You can see how this would skew a person’s view of the world. Fictional characters are just that, fictional. They only reside in a person’s mind. They just don’t spring to life one day on a whim.”
“Claim? Claim?” Blake took several steps toward JJ’s desk. “You said we ‘claim’ to be characters from your book. You don’t believe us?” He waved his arms, his hair dancing around his head. He certainly resembled the hero of her book, she thought, staring in amazement at the similarity.
“Who do you think we are if we aren’t from your—I mean, our—love story? Where do you think we came from?”
She didn’t need this. Hell, she hadn’t even had her first cup of coffee yet. Surely even they had to admit this situation was at best a bit bizarre. At worst, it was totally unbelievable. How many more times did she have to try to process this?
They appeared frighteningly real. Perhaps she should visit a psychiatrist? She rubbed her temples.
“Coffee!” Blake suddenly and loudly announced as if it were the start of a race. “Coffee. That’s what’s missing from your morning. Let me make us, uhm, you, your morning coffee. You’ll feel one-hundred percent better once you get that ole java flowing through your system. I know I’ll feel better.”
She waved her hand motioning him to go. He bounced out.
“I’m confused,” she confessed as she looked at Alex, now on the loveseat. “If you two didn’t leave, what did you do last night after I left?”
“Stayed in here, read some books, surfed the net, took turns sleeping on the loveseat.”
She pursed her lips tightly. “I guess I just assumed that once I left, you would, well, go away. I assumed you were the result of my thoughts. Like a dream or a hallucination triggered by a lack of sleep and overwork. Either way, I just thought you’d go away.”
“If it’s any consolation,” her heroine said, “I thought once you left the room, Blake and I would do just that—leave the room, too. I figured we’d just float back into our world again.” She ran a hand through her hair. “I’m not sure how these things work. While coming to help you was a great idea, I guess it was one we didn’t think through. And I didn’t think returning to our world would be so difficult.
“And I know you have troubles of your own, with us just showing up uninvited, but I’m a little worried I may never get back to my world. I admit we really haven’t investigated all avenues yet. But quite frankly, we made this journey on a whim. At some level I even doubted leaping into your world would work. But it did. And here we are.”
She bit her lip and added, “I’m not sure about anything at the moment.”
She gazed at the forlorn Alex. Yes, that’s how she had envisioned her in one scene when Blake tells her they could never be together, that they weren’t right for each other. It actually made her feel guilty for creating that emotion in her heroine.
“I hope you don’t think I’m saying this because you literally gave me my world, but I really love it there. It’s not that I don’t love you, but…”
She fully believed Alex was about to cry. The scene really touched her.
“We’ll get you back,” she promised her. “There must be a set of rules that could provide us with guidelines of what to do. In the meantime, we’ll try to make you as comfortable and as at home here as we can. Okay?”
Alex shook her head meekly, like a little kid who had just been consoled over a loss of a toy by a parent.
“Coffee for all.” Blake burst into the room, carrying a tray of three cups, milk, and sugar. His hair flipped outrageously from side to side as he jauntily stepped into the office. “I found some biscuits—oops, you guys call them cookies—for breakfast.
“But the food situation is looking a little pitiful down there, Ms. Spritely. I know you don’t want to hear this, but we do need to eat. We may be fictional characters, but it appears we’re equipped with some very real needs. And one of them is food.”
Two things you should know about me: I have an offbeat sense of humor and characters are constantly talking to me, trying to get me to tell their stories. Other than that, I’m a normal person.
I’ve spent most of my adult life writing in some fashion, from small-town reporter, to editor-in-chief and ghostwriter for a national natural health publishing firm. The last decade and a half I’ve worked as a freelance writer, penning ebooks that range from starting a doula services business to Native American herbs.
I’ve finally took the plunge to fiction after pushing oh, so many doubts aside. My first novel with The Wild Rose Press, Heartquake, won a 4.5 crowned heart review with Ind’tale Magazine.
All my books are set in fictional towns in northeast Ohio, where I grew up, and I write about things I love—like coffee.
I have a daughter, a son-in-law, and a grandpuppy and live in North Lima, a real town in northeast Ohio with all my characters. Yes, it does get crowded.
I love dad jokes, bad puns, whatever you want to call them.
Why do seagulls fly over the ocean? Because if they flew over the bay, we’d call them bagels. That type of pun. Or this one. How does the moon cut his hair. He eclipse it.
Yeah, that’s the level of my sense of humor. Not only do I love them, I’m associated with them. When my friends find a pun online, they send it to me. I suppose I could be known for worse things.
And I was determined to work my sense of humor into Rewrites of the Heart. Since it’s a romantic comedy, you’d think that would be easy. But I went the extra mile. (You’re welcome.) I created the Physics Café, where every menu item is named after something science related. For example, Blake Teesdale, the British fictional character, always orders the café’s fish and chips. They’re called Fission Chips. (Get it?)
And JJ Spritely, the heroine, in one scene orders the Philadelphia Experiment Cheesesteak, named after the 1984 movie in which a U.S. naval destroyer allegedly was invisible and teleported to another site.
I love the idea of the Physics Café so much, I’d love to open one.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I have two favorite movies, and surprisingly, none of them are romantic comedies. For the longest time, I’ve loved National Treasure (the original), and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s the history student in me. (I majored in American history as an undergrad at Ohio State and did graduate work in it at Ohio University.) I’m not sure, though, I was ever as passionate about history as the main characters in that movie are.
I also love What About Bob? with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. Murray plays Bob, who has every phobia and psychological issue you can imagine. Dreyfuss is his new psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin. (Bob sent his former one into an early retirement.) Bob follows him to his vacation home, and meets his family (who think he’s adorable). Dr. Marvin does everything in his power to get rid of him (and I mean everything). If you’ve never seen it, make some popcorn, and sit down, and watch it.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I would so love to have Rewrites of the Heart made into a movie. I think it would be a great romantic comedy! I can even see it being a great television show. I’d want Benedict Cumberbatch to play Blake Teesdale, the British fictional character who leaps from the pages of his story (along with Alex Zurich). I know the actor’s 46 already, but he looks like what I imagined Blake to be.
I’d like Reese Witherspoon to play JJ Spritely, the romance author. (Are you reading this, Reese? Call me.) I’m not sure who would play Kennedy King Cooper or Alex Zurich. But I do know I want Chevy Chase to play Dr. Thomas Chare, the head of the history department at the fictional University of Northern Ohio (UNO).
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
My writing spirit animal would have to be a cat—and not just because I love cats. Cats possess the ability not to care about what people think about them. Can you imagine a cat’s reaction to getting a bad review? They’d open their eyes to read it, maybe hiss at it, and then go back to sleep.
What inspired you to write this book?
The idea for Rewrites of the Heart came from the play I was in several years earlier, Jake’s Women, by Neil Simon. Jake’s a writer and throughout the play, he carries on conversations with a number of women in his life, only one of which is really present. The rest of the women appear to be real and he talks to them, but it’s all part of his imagination.
I wondered what it would be like if a writer’s characters became so real to an author, that they jump out of the pages of their story and interact with her. But then, I had to decide who could see them. Should the author be the only one that could speak with them? I thought it would be lots more fun (and cause more complications for JJ, our author) if everyone could see them.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have a novella, The Wizard of her Heart, releasing July 3. It’s part of The Wild Rose Press series “Jelly Beans and Spring Things.” It stars Wyatt Ginn, who is a minor wizard who casts love spells over jelly beans. His new employee, Sydney Thomas, who has just gotten out of a dismal marriage and a bitter divorce, is certain he’s full of it. She knows that wizards are only found in books. I love my tag line: She’s certain he’s no wizard. He’s sure she’s pure magic.”
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Rewrites of the Heart?
JJ Spritely is a romance author who, several years before we meet her in her home office, has lost her husband to a car accident. She’s a former history professor who now spends her time writing about love. Her sister, Nan, believes she’s working too hard and hiding from life. Nan is her matchmaker in residence. And just for the record, she’s not good at it.
Kennedy King Cooper is a history professor at the University of Northern Ohio (UNO). His most recent girlfriend, Rain, dumped him for an older man with a motorcycle. Yeah, she said it was research for her dissertation in sociology. He doesn’t believe it. Kenn is also a literature snob. He knows in his heart of hearts that romance novels are trash. Don’t even get him started on what type of person would stoop so low to write them.
Blake Teesdale and Alex Zurich are the fictional characters who jump out of the pages of their story to help JJ find the love of her life. (Too bad it’s Kenn.) Blake is a voracious reader and usually can be found with a book. As much as he tries to be helpful, sometimes he mucks things up. But his heart is always in the right place. Alex is the quintessential romance heroine. She sees the world through the eyes of someone who has lived their life in a romance novel. And all she wants is for JJ to write her own happily ever after.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
What I loved about writing this book was getting to know my characters. I love each and every one of them. They were so much fun to spend time with. To be honest, sometimes I wasn’t sure what Blake would do or say in some of the scenes, so that made for some interesting writing sessions. I was also a little sad for Alex, because while she wanted to help her creator, JJ, she also missed her home very much. I don’t think Blake realized that at first. The lengths he goes through to return to the pages of their book are sincere, if misguided. And yes, I loved writing them.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
This story was published in a slightly different form some 10 years ago with the title Out of Character. When I edited and updated it (everyone had old flip phones) I searched for a title that indicated the story was a romance. Since it was about a romance author, I wanted some writing term in the title too.
What author doesn’t go through rewrites? And since she was unsure about loving again after the death of her husband, Rewrites of the Heart seemed perfect.
Who designed your book covers?
Kristian Norris, a cover artist for The Wild Rose Press, created the amazing cover for Rewrites of the Heart. She also created the covers for Heartquake, my shifter romance, and for my July 3 release The Wizard of her Heart, my paranormal romantic comedy.
What makes a good story?
A story lives or dies by its characters. There seems to be an age-old debate about whether a novel is plot-driven or character-driven. Without three-dimensional likeable characters, there isn’t a story. If the reader doesn’t like your hero, whether it’s a romance or a mystery, then they won’t care about what happens to them. The plot doesn’t matter.
But the best stories, I believe, are those that have a cast of likeable, well-rounded characters. If you can write supporting characters who the readers cheer when they enter a scene, then you’ve got a great story.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading The Love Hypothesis, and Love on the Brain, both by Ali Hazelwood. If you love romantic comedies, then you’ll want to grab up these books. I love her writing style. I’ve also recently finished Boyfriend Material, and Husband Material by Alexis Hall. I highly recommend them both.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
I can’t believe I had to think about this. It would be a coffee scent. Of course. Everyone in all my books drinks coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. (And you thought I was going to say something romantic, like rose petals.)
What did you edit out of this book?
I edited several chapters from other characters’ points of view. I was so into creating all my friends, that I wanted each one to have a say in the book. I gave Deb Dilley, the history department secretary, a couple of chapters. I also gave the department chair, Dr. Thomas Chare, several chapters. They are both wonderful supporting characters with personalities of their own.