Having Fun With My Characters by Lucy Felthouse
I don’t mean that kind of fun! They get up to that sexy stuff with each other, not me 😉
What I’m talking about, in this instance, is writing real character traits, for example awkwardness, into my story, Letters to a War Zone. My lead characters, Bailey and Nick, are an insurance broker and a soldier respectively. I don’t want to give too much away, but the two of them meet through a website that puts people in pen pal contact with serving soldiers. It’s an erotic romance, so I don’t think I’m giving spoilers by saying there’s a happy ending, but I had fun getting the two of them. If it had been as simple as them “meeting,” starting to chat, being attracted to each other and running off into the sunset, then it wouldn’t have been much of a story. There are many hurdles for the two of them to leap. Not least the fact that at the beginning of the story, Nick is in Afghanistan, and Bailey’s in the UK.
Their adorable awkwardness comes into play, too, and this is the part I particularly enjoyed writing. Nick may be a soldier, an alpha male, but it doesn’t automatically make him confident and straightforward when it comes to sex and relationships. Bailey’s not an alpha male at all, so when the two men start to correspond, they certainly don’t cut straight to the chase—not least because, to start with, they don’t even know if they bat for the same team. In fact, they haven’t even thought beyond friendship, beyond exchanging snail mail letters.
I’m not going to give any more away, but when you read Letters to a War Zone, I hope you’ll enjoy the fun exchanges between the two men that show their shyness, their awkwardness, their reluctance to stick their necks out. It made the story feel very real to me. I hope you’ll agree.
Letters to a War Zone
After clicking all the available links on the website to find out more about it, Bailey decided to go ahead and sign up. He’d never know what it was really like unless he gave it a go.
He’d read about the site in an article somewhere, about how it linked people with serving soldiers, pilots, marines and sailors in order to write to them. It had been proven that receiving mail—even from someone they didn’t know—improved military morale. It sounded like a damn good use of time to Bailey, and it would be interesting, too.
He began typing his details into the online form. Of course, the chances were that he’d be paired up with a man, given the ratio of males to females in the forces. It didn’t matter, though. He could still exchange letters with a guy, become friends. It seemed like such an old-school way to communicate with someone, given how technology had come on over the years, but at least it was different. Perhaps it would give him something in his life to look forward to, something other than getting up, showering, going to work, coming home, eating, watching television and going to bed. The watching television—and even the eating—were occasionally replaced by nights out with friends or seeing family. Weekends were spent cleaning, washing clothes, gardening and odd jobs. Dull stuff, in other words.
He had an utterly mundane life, and Bailey knew it. It wasn’t even as if his job was exciting. Insurance broking was hardly thrilling, game-changing, or going to save the world. He didn’t expect having a pen pal to change his entire life, but it would certainly break the monotony. Hopefully.
He went through the various steps to fill in his details and create a profile, then continued right through to the information on actually writing and sending the letters. It looked straightforward enough.
His mind made up, Bailey immediately went in search of a pen, some nice paper and an envelope. Armed with a print out of exactly what to do when the letter was finished, he settled down at the kitchen table. Instantly, his mind went blank. What the fuck was he meant to say? He didn’t know any soldiers or other military personnel, didn’t know anything about their lives, other than there was a great deal more to it than shooting people and being shot at. His own existence was so fucking boring that he didn’t want to write about it. Unless there were any insomniacs in Afghanistan—telling them about his day would solve that particular condition right away.
After chewing on his biro until it broke, covering his lips and chin with ink, Bailey replaced it, resolving to try harder. He’d tell his pen pal the bare essentials about himself, then ask lots of questions about them and their work. That was bound to rustle up some conversation.
That decided, he began to write, absentmindedly swiping at his inky skin with a tissue. He’d have to scrub it off when he was done with the note. His wrist and hand had begun to ache before he was halfway down the page. He rolled his eyes. He sat on his arse at a desk all day, using a computer. As a result, even writing something short by hand was hard work! There was no way he was going to divulge that particular piece of information to someone that was willing to lay down their life to protect their country.
He just about managed to fill a single side of the A5-sized paper. And that was only because he’d formed large letters and spaced his words and lines out plenty. But he tried not to worry—at least he’d finished it, his first letter to a war zone.
He read through it carefully, relieved to find no mistakes. He’d forgotten how much more difficult—and messy—errors were on the written page. Computers let you edit and rewrite to your heart’s content. No correction fluid or crossings-out necessary.
Finally, he addressed the envelope. It felt like the longest address ever. The area and country was bad enough, even without including the soldier’s name and BFPO address. But it was done—Bailey Hodgkiss had penned a missive to Corporal Nick Rock, currently stationed at Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Now he’d just have to post it and wait for a reply. The website had said his missive would take between one and three weeks to reach Corporal Rock. Then he had to allow for time for him to read it and send a reply. It could be around six weeks before he heard anything. If he heard anything at all.
When lonely insurance broker, Bailey, gets himself a new hobby, he ends up exchanging letters with a war zone. But he’s not expecting what happens next…
Bailey Hodgkiss is lonely and dissatisfied with his boring life as an insurance broker. In an attempt to insert some variety, he signs up to a website to write to serving soldiers. He’s put in touch with Corporal Nick Rock, and over the course of a couple of letters, the two of them strike up a friendship. They begin to divulge their secrets, including their preference for men.
Nick encourages Bailey to add more interests to his life. As a result, Bailey picks up his forgotten hobby, photography, and quickly decides to team it up with his other preferred interest, travel.
Booking a holiday to Rome is his biggest gesture towards a more exciting existence, and he eagerly looks forward to the trip. That is, until Nick says he’s coming home on leave, and it looks as though their respective trips will prevent them from meeting in person. Is there enough of a spark between them to push them to meet, or will their relationship remain on paper only?
Add to your Goodreads shelves: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20722128-letters-to-a-war-zone
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9
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