by Blaire Edens
When you live in an area where tourists outnumber locals, there’s always writing inspiration to be found. Like an international buffet, the travelers bring their quirks and eccentricities right to your door. One of the most humorous parts is seeing visitors react to the local wildlife, especially the big, hairy kind.
We have bears. Lots and lots and lots of Black Bears. Normal, right? Not so much. It turns out that most people don’t live in towns where the bears leisurely wander down Main Street. What’s normal for the locals induces panic in the tourist. Straight-up, screaming, running panic. With a capital P. The bears are mostly harmless. The species is generally non-aggressive, eating less protein in one day than the typical fox. They’re shy animals that will avoid confrontation with humans if at all possible. Try telling a tourist this in your calm, soothing voice. I dare you.
People who ride the Subway every day are paralyzed, hypnotized by something I see all the time. How does that work?
As a native, someone who has worked around and lived with bears forever, I’m fascinated by the knee-jerk fear reaction. I wanted to know what that kind of fear felt like, shivers, nausea and all. In writing Wild About Rachel, I realized that the fear wasn’t really about the animal. It was about being outside the carefully defined comfort zone. Whenever we humans are confronted with something unfamiliar, we freak. Big cities with flashing lights and traffic snarls scare me. Maybe bears scare you.
I love characters, in books and movies, who are forced from their natural habitat. The new situations force them to find themselves, to become stronger people. To kick butt and take names. All the best stories involve proving grounds, rites of passage, some sort of pathway from the old character to the new character.
Wild About Rachel isn’t all about animals. Sure, there are lots of alligators and bats and even a few armadillos, but animals are only the vehicle, the testing ground where Rachel discovers that underneath her designer clothes, she is one tough cookie. For Mark, the emotionally wounded veteran, the testing grounds are emotional. He’ll go head to head with a venomous snake any day, but love terrifies him. Which fear is silly? Which fear is founded?
Rachel and Mark are proof that our scariest moments often prove to be our defining moments. In order to become our best self, sometimes we have to stare down our biggest fears.
I hope you enjoy Wild About Rachel. It’s a book about overcoming the roadblocks, whatever they may be, and transforming life into something fulfilling and unique.
WILD ABOUT RACHEL
Wrestling alligators might be easier than falling in love…
Former debutante Rachel Hansworth longs for the days when “alligator” was followed by “pumps” or “handbag.” Broke, Rachel takes the only job she can find: removing nuisance animals from Florida homes. Unfortunately, fighting the attraction to her boss proves more difficult than wrestling a gator.
Army veteran Mark Winters needs help with his business, but he wants Rachel more. He must honor a promise to his dying mother and find a fiancée. A real girlfriend isn’t part of the plan—he’s been there, done that. There’s only one problem: He can’t stop kissing Rachel.
She refuses to be duped by love again, and he won’t let a few hot make-out sessions tear down the walls he’s erected. But she’s all about the big bonus she’ll receive if she helps Mark. They’ll lower their defenses enough to trust each other when a wild animal is involved, but can they pull off the fake fiancée ruse and not be bitten by love?