Love Lessons: The Disney Effect
Before I do the behind the scenes thing, I have some housekeeping stuff Viviana asked me to post. She has a few spots left on the tour she’s setting up, so if you’re a blogger or have a blog or are just starting a blog or whatever, if you want to play, let her know now so she can set you up. Here’s the info you need.
Blog Tour Dates: Oct. 8 – Nov. 5, 2013
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And with that out of the way, on to the Disney. Once again, it’s Damon’s fault.
Once I decided I was writing a cute college romance, I was giddy-bouncy-stupid with happiness. I talked about it all the time. While I was writing it I was working closely with Damon on a few other things, so when we got to the chatting part of the conversation, I would talk about my cute little college romance. “It’s cute,” I’d tell him. “It’s adorable and sweet and it makes me so happy.”
“Oh my God, I’m already barfing.”
In other words, this was us:
He was teasing, but he wasn’t entirely off the mark. I was tired and wrenched from too many projects and too much going on–sweet and sigh-worthy sounded like a great time, but he knew me well enough to predict I wouldn’t be able to stick to my determination to make it sweet and simple and nothing else. I kind of enjoyed how he told me, though, because he let me figure that out on my own, but he also gave me some great one-liners, which I immediately put into the book. He made a joke about how my perfect little college would have a high suicide rate–I used that. He cast doubts that anywhere that saccharine could have anything but a rotten underbelly. I used that too. Eventually I mined his cynicism and funneled it directly into the character of Walter Lucas.
But most of all, I used the Disney.
I can’t remember who made the joke first about Hope University being Disney U, but that made it into the book, and also into the spine. Kelly, you see, is an unabashed, balls-to-the-wall Disney fan. His first thought of Walter is that he’s Flynn Rider—noteworthy because Kelly freely admits Tangled is his favorite movie of all time. Kelly has Disney posters, Disney action figures and dolls. In fact, here’s a section from the prologue I wrote but didn’t use for the book, detailing Kelly’s Disney fetish:
His favorite movies when he was little had all been Disney love stories, which he’d never have gotten away with if it weren’t for his little sister. All those nights his parents thought he was being a good big brother, sitting and watching The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast for the millionth time—little did they know how often Kelly had talked Lisa into another round of Mulan in lieu of Toy Story or Monsters, Inc. His very favorite had been Tarzan, in part because it had total boy street cred. No one ever suspected Kelly was hooked on the love story between Tarzan and Jane, not Rosie O’Donnell’s ape antics.
The real revelation, though, was finding out he wasn’t just caught up in Tarzan and Jane. He wanted to be Jane, or at least be in her place. Even in cartoon form, Tarzan…did things to Kelly.
The truth is, there’s plenty of me in Walter, but there’s a lot of Heidi in Kelly too. When I was little, I fell asleep listening to Disney LPs, and every Sunday night my family watched the Disney movie of the week while eating homemade pizza and enjoying our weekly milkshake treat. Disney is where I learned to love happily ever after. It wasn’t hard at all to put it into a book.
I did, though, need my Disney-inspired novel to grow up a little. Because Damon was right, I was never going to be able to stick with just sweet, no matter how much I thought I craved it. It didn’t take me long to write about college before I found myself trotting out my own university-era wounds, giving them all to Walter. Kelly had my allergies, but Walter carried all my pain. The stuff we shared wasn’t ever going to show up with a Disney soundtrack. Not exclusively. Disney U was fun, but the plot of the story was never going to be anything but at least a little Disney After Dark.
Love Lessons put me through my paces, that’s the truth. It took months and months longer than it was meant to, and it has 60,000 words in its personal graveyard. I unearthed a few personal ghosts I hadn’t planned to. And you know? The Disney helped a lot. Merging serious and sweet made the story sing for me. The Disney was my compass, my way through what had become my own forest of thorns. The sweetness, like Kelly for Walter, was the way home. It wasn’t fake. It was real and honest and soul-easing.
And, honestly, I’m still me. Sometimes it’s just the teensiest bit raunchy. Disney or no.
I love the Disney Effect in this novel, though, and my favorite part was what it did to my betas, my agent, and my editor. The story is sweet, but the ending is incredibly Disney. I wrote it and thought, “This is too much. No one will let me get away with this.” I even asked specifically for advice on how to tone it down, signaling I was ready. You know what? Nobody ever said a word. Nobody would let me. Even the advance reviews I’ve seen have acknowledged some will find the end a bit much (and several will. I’m totally ready for it, because it IS coming from SOMEWHERE), but they loved it too. It seemed to be just the ending that everyone who loved the book wanted.
That wasn’t the outcome I expected, and it makes me smile. Because while I dedicated this book to my undergraduate advisor, more than a little of it was to the little girl in me who fell asleep snuggled in her ragged sheets on a failing farm with a whole lot of hell yet to come—but who believed passionately, fervently in happily ever after. That little girl loves this cheesy sappy ending. As did her agent, her editor, her husband.
You know what? A whole lot of you, you closet Disneyphiles? You will too.
Other Disney things to check out:
- Disney Princess Instagram
- Annie Leibovitz’s Disney portraits
- David Kawena’s Disney hero portraits (not entirely SFW!) (These will feature in the novel, btw)
- Disney gifs on tumblr
- The Disney posts on the Facebook page (there are so more coming.)
Also, you know…the book. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
Love Lessons: Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.
Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus. Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.
Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view. As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.
Warning: This story contains lingering glances, milder than usual sexual content for this author, and a steamy dance-floor kiss. Story has no dairy or egg content, but may contain almonds.
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