Psyched for Romance

Sports Romance & Romantic Suspense With a Psychological Twist

Monday, April 4, 2011

Healing Over

This week I’ll be talking about themes in my novels With Good Behavior and Bad Behavior. Today I discuss healing and Wednesday I’ll be at Coffee Time Romance covering redemption.

To me, it’s quite interesting to write characters that start off damaged and broken. I enjoy torturing them further throughout the novel (*shrugs* I’m sick that way), but the end goal is always the same: healing.

Grant Madsen is a survivor of child abuse, and has the low self-worth to prove it. His conviction for aggravated robbery and subsequent prison sentence only serve to reduce his abysmally low self-esteem. Released on parole, he’s now supposed to find the confidence to rebuild his life. Good luck with that!

Sophie Taylor had a more stable childhood but is now dealing with broken family bonds due to her mother’s death and her father’s estrangement. She’s fiercely independent after putting herself through ten years of school to become a psychologist, yet she yearns for connection, especially with men. She continues to date bad boys in an effort to get back at her father. Her most recent dalliance with a bad boy landed her in prison, and now she too must battle to get back on her feet.

How do we heal from the past? There are books and books of psychological theories addressing this question, and my favorite is the interpersonal approach developed by Harry Stack Sullivan. We learn how to relate to ourselves and others through repetitive family interactions, and we heal from dysfunctional patterns by learning new ways of relating as adults. In other words, relational healing is the key.

It may sound corny, but I’m a big believer in the power of love to heal. It’s not Sophie’s background as a psychologist that helps Grant slowly develop more confidence in himself. It’s her implicit acceptance of him, her ability to filter through the damage to see the good in him, her openness to receive his love despite being burned so recently. And Grant’s love helps Sophie heal too. Ironically she has to fall in love with an ex-con on parole in order to find the good man she truly seeks.

Two wonderful novels were my inspiration for characters healing each other through their love: The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Both stories feature broken characters striving for wholeness, assisted by their faith in each other. The journey is rocky but beautiful.

Another inspiration is the lovely song “Heal Over” by KT Tunstall.


Please stop by Coffee Time Romance on Wednesday to read my thoughts on redemption. Those who leave a comment can enter a giveaway for an ebook from The Conduct Series!

It's a rainy Monday, ugh. Time to brighten things with the Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop, today hosted by Nicki Elson!

13 comments:

ketch1714 said...

Wonderful post! In many ways, some my characters are also facing traumas from their past, but each handle them in different ways. Some try to bury it, others carry the scares. Either way, these traumas had shaped the characters’ lives (who they are and how they acted in certain situations). Then I use the events to help the character grow.
Have a wonderful Monday!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Awesome post! I just finished reading Emotional Structure a book about building the emotional foundation for your story. You might find it too simple, with your background, but I liked the idea that all emotional arcs are about healing! :)

Nicki Elson said...

The idea of two people healing each other through their relationship is so romantic - it must build up such a strong bond. But it doesn't have to be just romantic relationships, right? I feel like I get what I need in pieces from different people.

Nicki Elson said...

Hey, NICE lady! Just had to come back to say THANK YOU for giving me that mention in your comment at Susan's. That was so very sweet an unexpected. :)

CarolOates said...

A very interesting post. I love exploring how my characters work through their issues.

Jennifer Lane said...

Kelsey, I like the idea of characters managing their pain in different ways--so realistic. That's where the art of therapy comes in, with trying to match a particular intervention with a particular personality style. It's fun to put characters through the ringer and see how they deal with it.

Sue, that book sounds awesome! I'll have to check it out one day. I doubt I'd find it simplistic since I'm still very new to writing.

Jennifer Lane said...

Nicki, I definitely believe the healing can occur in all kinds of relationships, like the therapeutic one for example. But having it occur in romantic relationships seems to make it extra special. ;) I'm happy that so many Omnific authors are nice people!

Carol, thanks for stopping by! Good luck on your blog tour.

Nicki Elson said...

After this I am done stalking you for the day - promise! I'm just getting back to you on the Cheers trivia question - Cliffie is the correct answer! Good job. :)

Jennifer Lane said...

I love stalkers! Just ask my friend Nix. Wouldn't that have been strange if Cliff had been Norm?

Mimi said...

Very interesting post.
I'm always fascinated at how people heal from really terrible events, particularly those who had traumatic childhoods, and yet there are some people who never heal...what's the difference? Is it love? Is it something in the person themselves, a perseverance, a strength?
And what makes people go under? If we could find out, wouldn't it be great?

Jennifer Lane said...

Mimi, what great questions you ask! My nerdy psychologist answer is that SO many factors go into healing, like premorbid functioning (high anxiety and poor coping skills before a trauma predicts increased risk for PTSD), neurobiology (do they have a genetic vulnerability in their brain?), family environment and "fit" between parent and child, willingness to seek help, effectiveness of treatment, support system, blah blah blah the list goes on! I think an individual's strength is definitely important, as well as love and support. Thanks for the stimulating post!

niksnie said...

Cilou has officially TRUMPED me on the stalker thing. (She sent me a picture of my HOUSE! …alleged house.)

“relational healing” = nice :)
Romantic relationships are ‘special’ as they, at least theoretically, involve emotional intimacy. I think that friends can do a lot for you too, mostly by just accepting you as you are.

I love following the journey of the characters in your stories (in terms of the action/storyline and within themselves). It makes The Conduct Series very ‘real’ / authentic / whole.

Jennifer Lane said...

Yikes! Cilou hasn't sent me a photo of my condo yet, but I'm sure she's got one thumbtacked to her wall. Perhaps she plays with her paper dolls, pretending they go in and out of the house and talking in silly voices. ;)

I'm very grateful to have you along for the journey, Nix!

 


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