WrestlingFor the last few days, I’ve lived in conflict. Not because of some external real life dilemma or any partnership drama (Cecilia ad I don’t have that stuff) but because being a role player puts me in a unexpected situation and in direct conflict with other characters than the one I identify the most.

For the last three years, I’ve lived and breathed Trevor Bauer’s emotions, struggles, disappointments, and heartbreaks as well as his joys, excitement, and successes. I’ve been under his skin when he married the woman who makes him a better man and I’ve experienced the sensual play he and Cassandra enjoy often.

Now, those who read our books also know of Nathan Nelson, Cassandra’s old CIA buddy and Trevor’s resident PITA.

For the first two books in the series, Trevor and Nathan have an exceptionally abrasive relationship. They tolerate each other mostly for Cassandra’s sake. Being Trevor in my head 24/7, I’ve had real intense reactions to fictional scenes involving Cassandra and Nathan in the first book. For the last three years, I’ve got a burn in my stomach just thinking about it. It might sound crazy to many, but other role players will get it. As role players, we are who we play and I’ve been Trev for a long time.

Then Alternate Connection happened. And Nathan’s story had to be told, which meant having to done his skin, dive into his psyche, suffer through his emotional turmoil and losses, his anger and, as expected, his side of the story.

I cringed at first. To be honest, it was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as a writer. And it wasn’t because I’m not used to wearing other characters’ skins. I have played other characters with ease and I can write a mean villain anytime, too. The issue was writing/playing Nathan in particular.

When Cecilia and I began writing the book last year, I would write his lines and inner dialog still looking at Nathan through Trevor’s eyes. Writing a character with another’s anger churning in your stomach can result in some strange lines. Self-deprecating ones, too. But then as I continued to write him, continued to wear his skin, as he invaded my mind and talked to me, showed me his true self, I began to appreciate the dichotomy of writing both, notably him. I began to enjoy Nathan’s story and tribulations, his quest for more than life has given him so far.

For the first quarter of the book, they inhabited different scenes and it was easier to segregate one while writing the other but then, the time came when they were both in the same chapter, same scene, talking to each other. And that’s where I find myself now and where lies the conflict.

I’ve now been divided between the two for a few days and just as the arbitrator in a dispute, I’ve refused to take sides. I’ve put my heart into writing both and making sure they spill onto the pages as they come to me—full bodied and Technicolor.

As I get in the groove to jump in both their skins once again, I beg you to wish me luck and, most of all, patience to handle their overwhelming personalities. It will be a crazy and fun ride, but I hope to take this conflict to a whole new level and hit this chapter out of the park.