The Novel Approach welcomes Joy Lynn Fielding today on the Blowing Off Steam blog tour, and she’s here to tell us about a very special character in the book. She’s also offering the chance for one lucky reader to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card, so be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.
TNA: Hi, Joy Lynn, I’m happy to be hosting you on your Blowing Off Steam blog tour.
JLF: Thanks so much for having me, Lisa—it’s lovely to be back here!
TNA: I couldn’t help but notice in the Product Warnings you’ve included a spider named Mabel in the book. Being a MAJOR arachnophobe, can I first just say, “Eeek!”? LOL. But now, I’d love to hear a bit more about Mabel.
JLF: Sorry to do that to you! I’m an arachnophobe too, so Mabel’s appearance was as much a surprise to me as it was to poor Ryan. She just turned up in Sam’s bathroom one morning. 🙂
TNA: Is she a pet? Why not a dog or cat? Why a spider?
JLF: She’s not actually Sam’s pet, although he’s very fond of her. She just follows the (accursed) arachnid routine of being in the same place at the same time most days. Not that I’ve been scarred by this, you understand.
It’s a very good question why Sam doesn’t have a pet. I think the possibility has never occurred to him, simply because he didn’t have one growing up. Sam sticks to his routines and habits because they’re where he finds comfort and safety, and he tends not to think outside of those.
TNA: Does Mabel play a significant role in the book?
JLF: She appears every now and then, keeping Ryan on his toes. He’s not scared of spiders, because Ryan Saunders isn’t scared of anything. He just doesn’t like them.
Her role, which only became clear to me as I got further into writing the book, is to underline to Ryan the extent of Sam’s loneliness. Sam has a surprisingly large number of casual acquaintances for someone as shy as he is, reflecting his uncle’s active social circle, the small-town atmosphere of Cardale, and the fact most people can see he’s a sweet guy, but he’s desperately lonely living on his own. Even a spider is better than no company.
TNA: How will you convince me and my fellow arachnophobes she’s a sympathetic character?
JLF: Er…. Well, she doesn’t run around the place and turn up in unexpected places, and whenever she does appear, Sam scoops her up and puts her in the garden, safely out of the way, so I hope Ryan is the only person she actively traumatizes.
Also, Sam loves her.
TNA: If you can think of anything else you’d like to say about Mabel, riff away! 🙂
JLF: There’s her gender for a start. 🙂 I have no idea how one sexes a spider and there is no way I was going to research that because it would have involved pictures! Sam is convinced she’s female and I’m happy to take his word on that.
The thing that most intrigues me about the writing process is how inspiration works, and I’m still trying to work out how Mabel came into existence. Perhaps my subconscious is trying to do something about my fear of spiders after all these years of letting it shape my reactions and choices (when buying my house, one of the reasons I turned down a sweet little Victorian cottage with open fireplaces in every room was because I knew it would be crawling with the things). Or perhaps in the world in which Sam exists, he just needed that company for a while.
For the benefit of my subconscious and any future characters who may be lurking, I’d like to make it clear that one spider in my books is quite enough, thank you very much.
I’d love to hear what other people think about spiders – or anything else, for that matter, if talking about them makes you uncomfortable. 🙂
Sam Chancellor has been in love with the steam engine Old Bess since he was six years old. Well, maybe not literally, but even when he’s lost everything else in his life, he’s always had her. But now her place in his heart has been unexpectedly challenged. Her new driver, Ryan Saunders, is the embodiment of all Sam’s fantasies.
Ryan has written off Sam as just another geeky trainspotter—until the moment Ryan sees him without his usual shapeless hoodie and realizes that, for a nerd, Sam’s pretty built.
When Ryan overlooks Sam’s awkwardness long enough to suggest a hook-up, Sam seizes the opportunity—and Ryan—with both very eager hands. Finding common ground in their shared love of Bess, their time together is better than Sam ever dared dream.
But there’s a reason Ryan never talks about his past. And when Ryan’s job is threatened, Sam’s well-meaning intervention puts both Ryan and Bess in deadly danger.
Warning: Contains train geekery, bed-hogging, a hero with no experience and another with plenty to spare, and a spider called Mabel.
Joy has a tendency to wax lyrical about the fascinating facts she discovers during her research for books. Thankfully she has a very patient Labrador who has a gift for looking interested in what she’s saying while he waits for the food to arrive.