"Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
-Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh
My friends have been the most magical portion of my life. I met Shirley Damsgaard and Angie Fox before I had a contract for the book that became Paper, Scissors, Death. Even though I had been published ten times in non-fiction, I still felt like a pretender. But neither woman thought of me as a “wannabe.” They both treated me with respect, as an equal. And that’s part of the magic of friendship—our friends see us as who we can become, not just who we are. They believe in us when we forget to believe in ourselves.
Early on, Shirley and I fell into the habit of brainstorming plot ideas. It was fascinating to me to hear how she would start with a germ of an idea or a scene and spin that into a manuscript. Shirley is a smart cookie and one of the best storytellers I know.
Angie and I found common interests in the promotional side of writing. She’s another wickedly smart woman, but she and I tend to talk more about how to reach our readers. Angie is an astute observer of the marketplace.
In Paper, Scissors, Death, I wanted to re-create the magic of friendship. I chose to give my heroine Kiki Lowenstein two very different role models. There’s Mert, the hardscrabble cleaning lady with her homey wisdom and nurturing ability. And there’s Dodie, the “tough” businesswoman who teaches Kiki to be self-reliant and not to hide from unpleasant information. Both women help my heroine grow into a more confident, capable woman.
Of course, there’s also hunky Detective Chad Detweiler, but he’s a special sort of friend. I named Detweiler after a guy I knew in college who was a friend. Not a boyfriend, but a real friend. And I named Kiki Lowenstein after the therapist in The Prince of Tides. Remember the scene where Nick Nolte is driving his convertible over the Cooper River and repeating, “Lowenstein, Lowenstein, Lowenstein”? To my mind, a good therapist is a paid, professional friend—and in the movie and book, her belief in him sets him free.
After all, that’s what Shirley and Angie have done for me. When I lack confidence, they fill my empty cup with praise and reminders of what I’ve achieved. When I feel like I’m not capable, they put the cherry on top that gives me an extra bit of moxie.
How about you? What have your girlfriends done to make your life better? Who makes the magic in your world?