So a week or so ago, I hit a brick wall with Lucien’s book. I’d give you a long description of the pain and suffering that this brick wall brought about, but that’d be a buzz kill. Instead, I’m opting to show you what I did to move beyond the head banging. A character interview. What follows is a slightly cleaned up version of how the interview went… hope you enjoy!
Today I’ve been fortunate enough to score a meeting with Lucas Masters—head of the Masters’ family empire, billionaire, and colorful bastard (by birth and choice). Lucas plays a pivotal role in my Manipulating the Masters series as he is the grandfather (and namesake) to his daughter’s four children—(in order of birth and all named after the old coot in some form or fashion) Lucille (aka, Lucy), Cindi (Lucinda), Eleanor, and Lucien (Luc).
The interview happens at Lucas’ office which is situated at the top of the tallest building downtown—Masters Tower.
Before entering the room, Mr. Masters’ assistant asks for my cell phone. Already knowing the drill, I hand over my bag—containing my cell phone and other miscellaneous technogadgets. But for those who haven’t had the pleasure, Mr. Masters is old school and does not allow any technology to interrupt meetings in his office. These are the terms of any kind of meeting with the head of the Masters clan. Family included. And now it’s time to… enter the lion’s den.
LM: *standing as I enter, he grunts and shuffles papers around his desk as he motions with one hand for me to enter his sacred domain* Take a seat, Ellie Mae. I’ll be with you in a minute. *He sits after I sink down into a large, dark colored, overstuffed leather chair*
It doesn’t take long before I find myself relaxing into a buttersoft leather chair and sinking deeper into a sense of calm and safeness. I realize it’s the room itself. Along with the owner. There’s just something about both that make me want to curl up with a good book and just relax in the atmosphere. The room isn’t like any executive’s office I’ve ever been to before. Yes, it does scream money and power, but it’s more than that. There’s this sense, a feeling, of respect of what it means to earn money the hard way and the power that comes from it.
The walls are paneled with wood—a rich mahogany that gleams in the warm glow emanating from strategically placed floor lamps that remind me of days gone by. The feel of the whole room takes me back to a place in time when technology and computers were in their infancy. It’s as if the items in the room were strategically placed and designed to remind the man behind the desk who he is and where he came from.
I look at the man behind the desk. There’s nothing extraordinary about him in his appearance, but I can feel his charisma. This is a man who knows what he wants and gets it. It reminds me of his grandson, Lucien. As I study the older gentleman, I figure he looks like your average eccentric billionaire with a taste for the finer things in life. His hair is silver, no receding hairline, and not overly trimmed—he’s probably due for a haircut any day now and considering how long it took for me to work this crisis management meeting into his (and my) schedule… I’m betting the stylist comes to him and not the other way around. He’s tall—at least six feet. Posture is good—not stooped. He’s proud (not sure how I know that by sight, but I gather that by the way he tilts his head, the angle of his jaw) and carries himself well. He’s wearing dark pants and (probably once was crisp, now slightly wrinkled) white dress shirt, sleeves rolled up to the middle of his forearms. By no standards is he a small man. No, he looks like someone who did not spend his entire life sitting behind a desk as the mastermind behind multi-billion dollar deals on a daily—if not hourly—basis.
LM: *He harrumphs and thumps the desk with his fist* Dammit, Ellie Mae, he wasn’t supposed to do this.
EK: *I clear my throat and decide to jump in feet first* I assume you’re referring to your grandson, Lucien?
Lucas lifts his head and I’m immediately trapped by his bright, green eyes and penetrating gaze. No wonder he’s so good at business and getting what he wants… in another time and place, he might have rendered me speechless. Lucky for you, me, and my cat named Little Bit
ch, I’ve been interviewing blood elves, vampires, and demi-gods lately so this… isn’t a show stopper. Just yet. LOL
LM: You know exactly who I am referring to. You’re the one who put him up to this.
EK: Whoa. I don’t think so. *see me sitting up in my chair to fire back…* If the thisyou’re referring to is Lucien and his best friend deciding to go into business together to buy a company, then the answer is no. I most definitely did not put him up to this. You’re the one who started that train rolling. Not me.
LM: Splitting hairs. You allowed it to happen. Even encouraged it.
EK: Perhaps. Perhaps not. Either way, the final decision was out of my hands.
LM: Out of your hands? Hardly. You could have stopped this at any time. Hell, you should stop it before Lucien goes and does something stupid like getting into business with a best friend who’d turn on him at a moment’s notice.
EK: Whoa, back up. Are you saying that Luc and Ben buying that company is a bad investment? Because if it is, they need to know and know now.
LM: Ellie Mae, you know as well as I do that my grandson knows as much, if not more, than me about how to read a company. All of his assessments are accurate and the projections well thought out—even if they are a bit too conservative for my opinion. What’s wrong with this whole thing is you’re allowing Lucien to mix personal with business.
EK: How? Ben is Luc’s oldest and best friend. They trust each other with their lives. For crying out loud, Ben is practically family.
LM: Practically ain’t actually. So until that boy, Ben, ponies up and puts us all out of our misery by marrying my girl Eleanor, he’s not family.
EK: *The words slip out of my mouth in a whisper before I think* True that.
LM: Look, I set everything up for Ben to go buy that company. Ben was supposed to come to mefor the loan—not Lucien.
EK: Lucas, you’re just pissed because you didn’t factor this into the equation. Face it. You got thwarted by a techno-geek (that’d be Ben) who goes all giddy picking out a new pocket protector.
LM: I did not get thwarted. I’ll get what I want.
EK: Oh, I have no doubt that you will. But how far are you willing to go to make it all right? And just how many strings do you need to yank to make it happen?
LM: As many as I need to.
EK: *I pause long enough to consider Lucas and his sincerity. It’s there. In his eyes. The old man is serious about winning. Always has been, always will.* And our original agreement?
LM: It still stands. Lucien will get what he deserves.
EK: *I mutter under my breath, And then some, then say out loud…* Good. In that case, I suggest you look outside the box for some creative solutions. Because if Lucien’s mother hears her only son is just a few weeks away from leaving town for an undisclosed amount of time… there willbe hell to pay.
LM: Too late. My daughter found out last week when she had her weekly luncheon with Lucien’s assistant. What’s her name?
EK: Elise Hamilton.
LM: That’s her. After that, everything did go to hell.
EK: How bad?
LM: How do you think? My daughter acts just like her mother when she had a bee in her bonnet. *he gives a humorless laugh* Read me the riot act. Told me I couldn’t let Lucien throw away his future by moving to Texas to buy a company. Said it’d ruin her life as well as his.
EK: Ruin his life? How?
LM: *another humorless chuckle that sounded more like a harrumph* Something about how Luc and Elise are the perfect match.
EK: Well, they are.
LM: In your book, not mine.
EK: Now, who’s splitting hairs.
LM: Don’t get smart with me, missey. I can still turn you over my knee.
EK: I don’t write that sort of stuff in my books. But I have a friend who does. So if that’s what floats your boat… *I earned myself a glare* look I’m just sayin’.
LM: And I’m just ignorin’.
EK: So why exactly was your daughter upset?
LM: Because Lucien and his golden rule.
EK: You mean the golden rule about not mixing business with pleasure? The one that you drilled into his head since before he could walk?
LM: *a grunt and a nod*
EK: Let me guess… your daughter thinks Luc and Elise are perfect for each other and she’s been counting down the days for Luc’s contract at Andersen Corp. to end so she can push Luc into dating Elise.
LM: Yep. Something she’s been itching to do since the beginning, but hasn’t because my boy doesn’t fish in the company pond and everyone knows it.
EK: Good policy, but that leaves you in a sucks-to-be-you situation.
LM: No shit.
EK: Okay. *see me do some fast thinking to work through this conundrum* Because I know your daughter—if she thinks you didn’t lift a finger to help her, you’re toast. If she finds out that you set the whole thing up and you still didn’t help her? You’re burned toast. If Luc goes and buys the company instead of Ben… yikes, then you’re double toast. Because that means you’d have both your daughter and her daughter to deal with. *I think about it a second and then ask…* If you had to choose which one to piss off, which one is the lesser of two evils: your daughter or granddaughter?
LM: Granddaughter. She has less negotiating power.
EK: You mean dirt.
LM: Negotiating power, dirt—what’s the difference?
EK: In your family, none. *Lucas nods in reluctant agreement and I continue…* Then your choice is made. Figure out how to make your daughter happy and you’re golden. Besides, Eleanor and Ben need to work out their own issues, preferably in their own (flame retardant) book.
LM: If I do that, then I’ll need information.
EK: *something in the way he said it make my spidey senses tingle* What type of information?
LM: The type that requires you and me redefining our original agreement.
EK: *And that’s when it hit me. The wily old bastard has just played me like a fine fiddle. But just to be sure, I ask…* And if I don’t tell you what you want to know?
LM: *see Lucas give an evil grin* Then I guess I won’t have time to finish revising this loan contract to add in a marriage clause before Lucien shows up to sign it in… *see Lucas casually consult his watch* less than ten minutes.
EK: That’s blackmail!
LM: No, little darlin’, that’s business.
EK: Is not. It’s a low down, underhanded, dirty trick and you know it. Calling me up here, telling me you’re having a crisis, then leading me down a merry path all so you can get what you want me to tell you and—no, I’m not going to tell you. You can just suck it up and I’ll figure out another way to start the ball rolling for Luc and Elise. I will not sacrifice my integrity just so you can—
LM: Clock’s tickin. Six minutes left.
EK: *see me glare back at the pompous ass sitting across from me* Lucas, this is wrong. I will not—cannot tell you.
LM: True, you did give your word not to tell and I respect that. I really do. But you didn’t give your word not to hint. Besides, it’s not like I’m asking for all your secrets. I just want a hint for one of them.
EK: You say one now, but I know you. One is never enough.
LM: *he laughs out loud* What’s it gonna be, little darlin’? Are you gonna tell me who my daughter is having an affair with or not?
EK: I’ve already told you, your daughter is not having an affair.
LM: But she is seeing someone. You owe me that much.
EK: I don’t… oh for crying out loud, let me see the offer you’re presenting Lucien with. If I’m going to sell my soul to the devil to get this damn book written, then I deserve to see what I’m paying for.
Lucas hands me the contract and I read it. Satisfied that it has everything I need for an inciting event that works for all the other scenes I’ve already written and have no desire to go back and rewrite (again), I pass it back to him. Before I speak, I take a moment to think through my next chess move with this Machiavellian master.
EK: Get Lucien to sign that contract and I will answer one question you want to know. But only one. No more than that. Do we have a deal?
Lucas studies me for what seems like an eternity before he agrees. Less than a minute later and after a firm handshake, I’m out the door, grabbing my bag from the receptionist, and the elevator dings, heralding Lucien’s arrival. As quickly as possible I slip around the corner out of his sight and make for the stairwell door to work my magic and poof back to my writing lair.
This was soooo not the turn of events I wanted to face. Not today. The last thing in the world anyone needs to know is who Lucas’ beloved daughter has been sneaking away to meet up with every Tuesday afternoon. It’s time I have a word with her and her man. Because if Lucas Masters finds out whom his precious daughter has been seeing and gets the low down on the whole thing… ohmiword, apocalypse seems like such a weak word to describe just how bad that’d be.
Utter and complete annihilation of the world order. Okay, yeah, that about sums it up.
And that, my dear readers, was the interview that taught me how to play the game to get the characters in Lucien’s book to work with me. Latest update on the book’s stats: word count is 58,155; revision progress: I’m almost to the halfway point and have two new scenes added; and my editorial staff are evaluating portions of the book for voice and plot continuity (since half of it was written in 1997 and the other half this year). I know y’all are patiently waiting for this book to come out and I appreciate all the emails and questions I get about it… Yes, I’m taking my sweet time with it, because I want this book to be better than the last. Stronger, funnier, and gives you a slight taste of what’s to come with all the machinations and manipulations that the crazy characters in my head have to offer.
And on that note, I’m off to revise more. Until next time… take care and happy reading!