I’m a bookie. Nope, I do not mean that I take bets and gamble! I mean it like some people are foodies. I love books. Put me in a bookstore and I’m a happy girl. Give me a book to read on a hot summer day, a brisk autumn afternoon, a cold winter night and I’m thrilled.
But what I’ve found is that I have an alter ego.
I do, and no, I do not have multiple personality disorder. My alter ego's name is Lola Cruz. She's a smart, sexy, sassy, Latina detective.
Let me just say this. While I am smart and I have the potential to be sexy (at least according to my husband–*wink wink*–and when the stars are aligned, I ™m having a good hair day, and I ™m down those dastardly five pounds that make or break a great dress), I ™m not terribly sassy, am not Latina (though I do like to say that I ™m proud to be Latina by marriage), and am not actually a detective (unless you count all the detecting that is a natural part of motherhood–like figuring out just who finished off the bag of chocolate chips in the freezer, or where the missing band t-shirt is five minutes before your child NEEDS it for a competition).
But still, if I were smart, sexy, and sassy–the whole enchilada–, I ™d be Lola Cruz. She lives in my head. Not in a she tells me what to do scary Sybll kind of way, but in a she's real to me way and I want to be her sometimes–or at least have her rub off on me. I want to do the things she does, be empowered to follow my dreams the way she does, and have a personality that sparkles–like she does.
What is it about Lola, and other fictional characters, for that matter, that make us want to be them for a little while…or at the very least be their friend? It's not that my life isn't great. It is. I ™ve got the same kinds of ups and downs that Lola does–minus the danger and threats to my life, but hey, she doesn't have 5 kids, 2 of whom are in high school band. Not sure she could handle that. Enough said.
I ™ve given this a lot of thought and the answer for me is that those characters who we really respond to actually compliment who we are and those parts of our personalities that are tucked away. The characters represent something in us that isn't fully realized. Don't we all want to have a little bit of Scarlett O ™Hara's (Gone With the Wind) determination and fighting spirit? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the calm and peacefulness of August Boatwright (Secret Lives of Bees)? Can't you just see those Bridgerton (Julia Quinn’s romance series) siblings loaning you sugar if you were all out and desperately needed a cup? Aren't they the kind of people you want to surround yourself with?
That's what good books do. They give us built in friends (or alter egos) whom we adore spending time with and who bring out something that's in us, and that isn't accessed in any other way.
The characters we respond to are three-dimensional, are flawed, have hopes and dreams, and are painted in such a way that we can see them, hear them, feel them, and almost smell and taste them. They appeal to each and every one of our senses and seep into our consciousness until we almost think that they are real. That's what I love about Lola and my other fictional friends. They're like comfort food. They're there when I need them, when I want the comfort of someone familiar. It's what's so appealing about romance. We're guaranteed the HEA, and with our fictional friends, it's even more meaningful because that HEA is about someone we care about.
So, back to my initial statement. Do you have an alter ego–a person you sometimes dream of being? Who is it and what is it about that character that speaks to you?