Friday, November 16, 2012

The Mpemba Effect

“Did you know that warm water actually freezes faster than cold water? It’s called the Mpemba Effect,” Evan said.

“I had no idea,” she responded, and looked down at her tray to hide her grin.

“And did you know that no one understands why?”

Clara giggled.

“This doesn’t interest you in the slightest, does it?” Evan asked.

“I didn’t say that,” Clara replied. “It’s just hard for me to understand. That’s all.”

“Well, like I said, nobody understands,” Evan said. “That’s what makes it interesting.”

“I see why you don’t read fiction,” Clara replied. “It’s the exact opposite of all this science stuff.”

Evan smiled. “Why do you like made-up stories so much, Clara?”

Clara flushed. “I just do.”

“Well, I hope it’s not because you imagine yourself as anyone other than you. That would be a shame,” Evan said.


Oh, Evan. When I think about him, I smile. And my sister smiled, too, when she got to this part in the book.

“Um, can we say ‘Aidan’?” she asked.

It’s true. That part of Evan is definitely my husband—the part that likes to share science tidbits with people who could care less. The part that likes to interject science knowledge into conversations that have nothing to do with science. Seriously. This is usually how it goes: My sister and I are hanging out in the kitchen having a conversation about Christmas cookie recipes. Aidan sidles up to the kitchen island and pretends to listen. Really what he’s doing is waiting for an opening, and we should know better. But because it’s natural to take breaths while you talk, there’s a pause. Bingo. His opening:

“Did you know that if you travel faster than light you can actually go back in time?”

Oh, the smartass things I could say. I don’t, though, because I love him. And because I think he’s pretty damn cute.

So I decided to make that aspect of my husband a part of Evan. I think it makes him cute. And Clara likes it, too, because she just likes to listen to him talk. Better than having to talk herself.

My idea for Evan was simple at first. I wanted a really nice guy who had a strong desire to take care of Clara. But, of course, once I started writing, he decided how he wanted to be. He kept the “taking care of Clara” part that I wanted but added a lot of other characteristics. Some good. Some not so good.

He’s controlling. Not “Where were you last night?!” kind of controlling. More like, he understands Clara—her shyness and uncertainty, gentleness and fear—and he takes advantage of it. He knows he has the power to control her emotionally. It’s pretty easy since he’s popular, confident, and aggressive (well, aggressive in a gentle way . . . whatever the hell that means.) And he likes that power. Remember the cafeteria scene I posted weeks ago? He drinks her milk. The guy just picks up her milk and drinks it in front of everyone. He knows what it’s doing to her. And that’s why he does it. Good trait? Probably not. But it was soooo fun to write, and then to write Clara’s reactions to these power plays. I think of the song “Smile” by The Gufs. I can now control you with a smile. Yes, Evan, you can.

But Evan’s redeeming quality is his intense desire to take care of Clara. He recognizes early on that she doesn’t have money. It’s obvious in the way she dresses. Think Keri Russell as Jenna in the movie Waitress. And when she finally does allow him into her life, he sees all of it—the destitution, the longing. He wants to give to her, take care of her, but he doesn’t abuse it. He doesn’t want to control her that way. He’s selfless in his giving. He never makes her feel embarrassed for her monetary situation (she does it enough to herself), and he doesn’t go over the top with the things he does for her. He’s careful to give just right.

His looks? Based on nobody I know. Well, he’s tall and lean like my husband because that’s how I like ‘em. I like really tall guys who can pick up and toss their girls in the air with ease. But the blond hair and green eyes? I don’t know. I think I looked at my birthstone one day and thought, What would a person look like if they had eyes this color? Freaking awesome!

He’s just the whole package, in my estimation. He’s smart, caring, cute, and silly. He’s in love with Clara, persistent even though she tries to push him away. Man, I love that persistence! I love writing male leads who pursue. Clara is his target. He’s going after her. There’s something really sexy about that. The confidence to go for it, to not give up even when she puts up all kinds of obstacles. Remember the scene I posted where Evan asks Clara to go get yogurt with him? Oh, she’s going with him to get yogurt! Yes sir. Even if he has to toss her over his shoulder, carry her to his car, and strap her in. She’s going.

What’s not to love about that?

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