Putting your husband in a book
November 01, 2007
Sometimes fiction is the best revenge. Please enjoy this video and guest post from one of my favorite writers, Sheila Roberts:
Writing as Revenge by Sheila Roberts
I think the best book ideas come from a real life experiences. And some of the most irritating experiences can provide the best material. If I hadn’t been irritated with my husband, I never would have come up with the idea for my new book “On Strike for Christmas“ about a group of friends who go on strike to gain more appreciation over the holidays–with near disastrous results.
My husband was grumbling about having to spend yet another holiday with my big, loud family and I had just had it. What was his problem, anyway? He’d been doing this for years. Now that I think about it, maybe that was his problem. The poor man spends more time with his in-laws than his own family. But when I made my threat I wasn’t thinking so rationally. “I’m going to put you in a book,” I threatened.
He just laughed.
Until I actually did it. And once I got rolling I’d give him regular reports. “Your nickname is now Bob Humbug.”
“Ha! I like it.”
The members of my critique group liked it, too, although they began to wonder about one of the couples in the book, Bob and Joy, who were modeled after my husband and myself. I even began to wonder myself – not about Bob and Joy, but about Sheila and her husband – when we’d discuss the book and I’d hear comments like, “This marriage is in serious trouble.”
I’d think, It is? Oh, no! We’ve been married for years and we’re in trouble and we don’t even know it!
Fortunately, I was eventually able to sort fact from fiction. My husband had his own identity crisis once he had a chance to see an early copy of the book. Suddenly it wasn’t quite so funny being the prototype for a naughty husband. He returned one afternoon from his work commute, holding the book and looking like the personification of Elvis’s “Blue Christmas”. “Am I really that bad?” he asked.
It was my golden opportunity to say, “Yes! That’s why you’re in a book, you big turkey.” But I didn’t have the heart. My Bob Humbug is really a sweet guy with a very tender heart, and he looked so darned sad I simply couldn’t do it. He had obviously learned his lesson, so I assured him that fiction often requires some over the top writing. (And there is plenty of that in this story.)
Still, he took the underlying message to heart, and now, like Scrooge, he’s a changed man. And he’s given the story an enthusiastic thumbs up. He’s even planning on making guest appearances at my book signings. So there’ll be no Christmas strike at our house this year, just a lot of fun as we celebrate both the holidays (with my family, of course!) and the release of my first novel with St. Martin’s Press.
Publishers Weekly loves this book as much as Debbie Macomber and I do. From the PW review:
Roberts’s sweetly vengeful dig at do-nothing husbands follows a smalltown knitting club of wives who are sick and tired of toiling over elaborate Christmas preparations that their husbands don’t appreciate. As they go on strike, the women try to stay in solidarity, while the husbands plan retaliation at the hardware store. Roberts revels in detailing the husbands’ awkward, often disastrous handling of tasks their wives habitually do for Christmas (taking the kids to see Santa, planning the party, doing up the house). By the end of this gently feminist sendup, each side learns to be grateful for the other’s efforts.