A Secret Celeb I Based a Male Lead on

This week at the SFF Seven, we’re talking about real life people (or celebrities) we’ve based characters on.

That phrasing makes me laugh a little because I’m pretty sure celebrities are still real life people. It puts me in mind of some of my ongoing themes of reminding readers that their favorite authors are still people who get sick and have life drama. But I digress.

I don’t know if I’ve talked about this openly, but in UNDER HIS TOUCH, the second Falling Under book (and this series is contemporary erotic romance, not SFF, fair warning), I totally based the male protagonist on a celebrity. I wanted a Brit man, one who was brooding and not conventionally handsome, full of smoldering sexiness. Guess who I based him on?

Neil Gaiman.

Yeah, yeah – I know. Only a book nerd like me would pick someone like that. I don’t think it’s at all obvious in the text to the reader, but he was the guy I envisioned when I wrote it. I even threw in a little Amanda Palmer easter egg, just for fun.

Living the Dream

I used this photo (Thanks to Craig Chrissinger for taking it!) a couple of weeks ago, but it’s too appropriate for this week’s topic to pass up using it again. Our topic at the SFF Seven is our fantasy dinner party. We’re asking which SFF authors and characters you’d invite to a soiree.

The thing is, one of the best perks of being an author is getting to make other authors be your friends. So my fantasy dinner parties have mostly happened! Case in point: above I’m having dinner with Martha Wells, Darynda Jones, and Kelly Robson. Yes, it was a great conversation. I feel so blessed and fortunate that I pretty much get to have my fantasy dinner parties on a regular basis now.

Last week I got to have dinner with Amanda Bouchet, Maria V. Snyder, Jennifer Estep, H.R. Moore, and Maria Vale. On another evening, I sat between Juliette Cross and Chloe C. Peñaranda, later joined by Carissa Broadbent.

The one person I have yet to meet in person – and hopefully have dinner with! – is Neil Gaiman. But I do have his cell phone number and have chatted with him on the phone, which gives me all kinds of happiness right there. Since it’s a fantasy, Anne McCaffrey, Tanith Lee, and Vonda McIntyre could all come back from the dead and join us.

My younger self would be thrilled.


First Cup of Coffee – March 4, 2024

How writing a novel is like building a road brick by brick, and how some days you’re nose in the mortar and other days you lift your head to look. Also thoughts on revision, the 3-Act structure, story logic, and knowing whether you have brain juice or not.

First Cup of Coffee – April 25, 2023

How to graciously answer that invidious question: “Have I heard of you?” Also, some lovely early feedback on ROGUE FAMILIAR – just released!!! – and how we don’t always know what we’re writing.

First Cup of Coffee – March 20, 2023

How you know when your creativity is flowing, which story ideas have enough juice to sustain a novel or series, and how to handle those New Shiny ideas when you have other works in progress to focus on.

First Cup of Coffee – October 28, 2022

Why I don’t believe in muses and how conflating the experience of writing – joyful or otherwise – with the experience of reading is counterproductive, and how writing turns out the same whether it was fun to write or not.

First Cup of Coffee – October 25, 2022

How being female isn’t actually a characterization (yes, this rant again), an odd coincidence with my growing up and a now Famous Author, and asking for good thoughts for a new preemie baby in the family.

First Cup of Coffee – May 19, 2022

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.


Lovely morning here in Santa Fe today on Thursday May nineteenth yes I was just wondering if I titled the podcast correctly because I always titled with the date and um. Fortunately I did ah so um, lots going on here tonight. We kick off the events for nebula conference mentoring happens this evening. Everything is in place. Everything’s come together I believe um, yeah, events tomorrow. How’s the book coming along. They say who they ask? Jeffe it’s coming. It’s coming. Um I have got of 83600 words and um, so I’ve got like None to go. Um, doable. See how much time I have for that out loud proof. Fortunately I do write pretty clean. So if I have to upload a penultimate version I could do that and fix the commas after.

Knowing that I’m not going to have it proofed I have been paying more attention to like instead of punting on Lay Lilade I’ve been actually checking. Although I think I have it right now the one that I don’t. Get is each other and one another and I’m not sure anybody actually cares.

Other than the grammarians. So theoretically I can finish it right now. Things are an other disaster and I don’t know how they’re going to get themselves out of it. Ah, but there’s a possibility that the book will just end with them all dying and then they all died I mean I can understand why Shakespeare did that sometimes it’s like yeah and then they all died. So what she’s here. In fact, I well I’ve said this before but I think that the people who go for the tragic ending instead of trying to figure out how to make a romance end happily when they think that they’re being so terribly clever and like oh I’m going to write a romance except it ends tragically. Like actually the tragic ending is the easy ending. It’s um, super easy to have everybody die or everything not work out. It’s much more difficult to figure out how the fuck are they going to get themselves out of this situation. So I guess we’ll find out won’t we um, there’s a panel I want to see tomorrow at None my time. The none sequence of panels for the conference. But then I will um, actually there’s 2 at None but they’ll all be recorded so I can watch them later as well. It’s fun to watch stuff in person because of the chat role and everything you could talk to people and I see my peony is about to bloom. Oh. It’s so pretty glowing pink. So so yeah, quite a lot going on the next couple of days. Did you guys see I might link to it the trailer for the nebula award ceremony. Amazing, amazing people worked on that and it just gives me a shiver of delight because I can’t take any credit for the actual work. But you guys you have no idea what I went through to get that to happen the way that it happened. And I don’t feel like I can talk about it necessarily but Neil Gayman me I got him there other people helped me many thanks to the people that helped me and connected me. Um.

But for for reasons that are too arcane and absurd to explain and besides which it would be impolilitic I had to fight to have Neil Gaiman be our toast master in the way that he is. And it’s gonna be awesome and I’m just so happy. So happy without it turned out so that’s often I find the role of people in leadership. Um, which sounds kind of funny for me to say in leadership. But you know is that if you’re doing it right? You step back and and you don’t trumpet your credit like I’m doing right now but you know it’s it’s the other people who do the actual work but sometimes that work of being the one. Determined to have a thing happen and fighting for it and fighting people who don’t want it to happen that just takes a lot sometimes and it’s work. That’s not always noticed by people which is fine. Um, but it is an interesting thing to me. To show. You guys have my nebula nails. Oh here’s a little Ray of sunshine if you’re on video I am got. There’s sort of a deep blue purple with gold sparkleys nebula nails um, anyone else was I going to say on that. Oh on the the leadership thing. Ah so I had 1 funny. You guys know that if you’ve been listening to me for a very very long time because I don’t think I’ve brought it up recently that I think that as human beings. 1 of the things we have to combat is ego is the overweening ego the dominating ego. Um, and that’s partly my taoist perspective ah taoists are very much. Um. Anti-ego. You can’t be None with the dow if you are filled with ego and I think ego drives a whole lot of negative behavior. So I work very hard not to be egotistical. Not to let my ego take over and it’s funny in some ways because it’s this balance between not letting the ego run everything but also taking credit for stuff so quite a long time ago.

My very favorite professor from college professor David Hadas who was the one who is the non-practicing orthodox jew if you get that joke my religious studies professor amazing man. Huge influence on me and. He was he was dying. He got colon cancer and he decided and this was very true to who he was that he would not get radiation or chemotherapy. He had the surgery but he didn’t want. To have any of the other treatment because he wanted to spend his last days in the classroom um to doing what he loved best what he was so good at and so oh I’m gonna get over for clem talking to about him. So. I organized a thing where we had a kind of a memorial service for him while he was still alive and I worked with my University Washington University in St Louis and a bunch of my old friends. And we worked with the alumni office and contacted as many people as possible who had been as students. You know they gave us the records and I emailed everybody. It was early days of email you know and invited people to come and say nice things about him and. It was a really cool thing to do and the university dedicated this um one of the salons. One of the I don’t know teaching halls to him they put that put his name on it and it was just we all went back to St Louis it was really lovely weekend. It was funny because like some people that I emailed. Got so mad about me emailing them almost. Everyone was nice but a few people were like take me off of this mailing list. It’s like did you even read the email dip shit anyway, early days of email it would probably be harder to do now only illegitimate spammers or. Don’t to email people anymore. So ah, this one gal did um I don’t even remember she was a reporter and she was doing an article I don’t think it was for the student newspaper. It might have been for the St Louis Post dispatch I don’t remember what paper. But anyway she called me up ah to interview me about the event and so we talked about what was going on and everything and she was asking me about me and she said um, she said well I understand that you organized this event and I said well um.

A great many people worked on this event and she said oh okay and then there was like no mention of me in the article at all. It was like I very effectively erased myself which was actually fine. Because I wanted it to be about him and I’d said that to her several times you know that this is to celebrate professor Hadas. Um, but at the same time I was like oh note to self about giving away all credit. Um, you know it’s ah. Because people people will let you do it? So I don’t really remember how I got off on that whole thing. Oh just like leadership credit stuff and that sort of thing. Um, yeah, a lot of things with nebula conference and ceremony were things that I that I masterminded. Or such intermotion. But everybody else did all the work and they were fabulous and everybody will be very glad to have the work done with because it’s been a lot and then next year we will be doing the hybrid conference. Ah, that’ll be exciting moment. Back in person. So ah, the other thing I wanted to talk about is this funny thing about people not being aware of of the order of things of the precedence of naming and the reason this came up was um. My friend posted a picture of purple Columbine blooming in her garden and None of her family members who lives across the country said oh I love those purple and white flowers and I messaged my friend and. Because it made me laugh and I I said it made me laugh that she called the columbine purple and white flowers. So and I totally get this as a regional thing you know like that people on the East Coast may have never seen Columbine but I’m a Colorado girl by births or not by birth exactly but certainly by a nativity. Ah, my mother was born there stepfather was born there I grew up there hometown of Denver Columbine is the State Flower Purple Columbine ah and so it was funny to me that somebody would not. Recognize the flower and big I mean maybe just it’s so pervasive here. But also you know it’s like people who know nothing about the your american west right? and it is a pretty flower.

So and she replied back and said yes that um, when she and her son were skiing that there was a trail called Columbine and her son who’s a teenager said. It’s really sad that they named a trail after that town where all of those kids died. So this is the perspective partly of youth and partly of people who’ve grown up in a digital world that they’re not aware of the order of history. So in case, you don’t. Follow that whole thing probably most of you do, but he was referring to the massacre at Columbine high school which took place in Denver it was not a town but Columbine high school Columbine high school of course named for the state flower of Colorado and. Lots of mountains around here have Columbine this are that because it’s a flower that grows everywhere here right? I have none of yellow columbine in my garden blooming right now I should take a picture and of None of them put it on the show notes. Because the peony is not ready for full viewing anyway. So it’s just it’s it’s just a really funny thing and I’ve noticed it happen a lot and I can’t think of the books but like when people pick an older property. And say oh and ah I don’t think this was the exact one but um, like the one that I pulled out in the example for her was wizard of oz like when people complained that the wizard of oz rips off Harry Potter or some of these older fantasy works Rip off Harry Potter and it’s funny because when I none read Harry Potter I thought it was incredibly derivative of previous fantasy works. But once something becomes very large. It supersedes everything else and and there’s also the wherever someone none encounters. Ah, piece of information a story a name then that becomes none in their mind regardless of precedent. It’s a funny thing. And this was making me think too which is just sort of a sideline but I was ah thinking about how someone had asked me a long time ago. Um, and it was someone who was young and they were asking me about your song.

By Elton John and Bernie Toppin and they said why do you think he says um, but then again, no in the song. Why why would he do that and I said well it’s it’s meant to Reflect you know they’re like why why wouldn’t he just change that the song if he if he changed his mind and I said well it’s meant to be like this conversational tone and it’s meant to transmit his sense of of uncertainty and insecurity by having that in the lyrics and they said no I don’t think that’s it I think he just. Made the mistake and didn’t change it. It was like no I don’t think that’s what happened, but for some reason that song’s already that conversation’s always stuck with me and I was thinking about Jim Croce’s song. Where he says I’ll have to say I love you and a song and it starts out with I know it’s kind of late I hope I didn’t wake you? Um, there’s I didn’t look up the date on this one I well let me go back. I was wondering which of those came none and the answer is is Elton John and Bernie Taupin that song was 1970 Jim Crowie’s was 1973 um, lot of names I’m gonna have to fix in the transcript. Sorry if I don’t get them all and then there’s. Ah, what can I think of the band. Um I’m leaving on a jet plane has a similar thing. We’re addressing the person and the song where they say um, don’t now have to look.

It’s not letting me pause funny that song was written by John Denver I didn’t realize that I was thinking of someone else singing it. Maybe you guys will remember because I’m not gonna keep researching it. But anyway, ah. He says the same sort of thing in there as in um I hate to wake you up to say goodbye and what year was that oh Peter Paul and Mary that’s who I was thinking of um, singing it. Okay, hold on.

Okay, so that was 1966 which I should remember because that’s the year I was born. So anyway, this person who I can’t even remember who they are I want to go back and expand on the explanation and say that this was part of a songwriting trend. In the apparently late sixty s through the early 70 s of having kind of having lyrics that were more conversational and directed to a particular person we could probably do a whole essay on this and if you want to take that up. For your ah thesis. You’re welcome to do so so I’m going to go on my way and get some stuff done. Wish me luck. Um, if I kill off all the characters will you forgive me? Ah, ah. All right? Um I hope you all have a fabulous Thursday and I will talk to you tomorrow I’ll do my podcast tomorrow. What the hell it’s only it’s only time you all take care bye bye.

Does Boring Writing Mean Boring Reading?

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week takes a look at the oft-quoted advice for writers: “If you’re bored writing, the reader will be bored reading.” And we’re asking is this true or false? I think it’s wrong, even dangerous advice. Come on over to find out why.