By Lisabet Sarai
Recently I was working on an interview for another author's blog. One question asked, "What sort of characters do you tend to write? Do your characters show any of your own traits?" After thinking a while, I wrote: "My heroines tend to be strong and independent. Some might call them stubborn."
It's true. There's Kate (Raw Silk), who stubbornly holds on to the notion that she's not submissive in the face of graphic evidence to the contrary, and Christine (Bodies of Light), who refuses to give up even when she understands that she's the last person alive on her space ship. Christine insists on venturing out into deep space to do repairs even though, rationally, it is a useless effort. Stella Xanathakeos, the heroine in my erotic thriller Exposure, persists in her quest to solve the mystery of the charismatic mayor's murder, though her house is burgled and she receives death threats. Elena, in my paranormal Serpent's Kiss, refuses to obey the admonitions of her reincarnated-god lover, changing the course of human history as a result.
With the publication of Wild About That Thing next month, I'll add another stubborn, self-directed woman to my collection. Ruby Jones is a single mother, struggling to realize her dream of owning a blues club. Her respectable dentist husband ran off with his receptionist, leaving her to raise their son Isaiah and pick up the pieces of her self-esteem. She moves from Chicago to New York City, opens the Crossroads Blues Bar, and eventually takes Zeke, leader of the house band, as her lover. However, she's determined not to be hurt again and refuses to be dependent on any man, even though it's clear that Zeke loves her dearly and wants to care for both her and her son.
One thing I've learned in my nearly thirty years of marriage. Stubbornness is in the eye of the beholder. When I call my husband stubborn, he laughingly tells me he takes after his wife. I think he's the one who's stubborn. As for me, I'm not stubborn, not really. No, I'm consistent and principled, unwilling to accept less than the best or to give in, even for the sake of domestic peace, when I know that he's wrong.
He undoubtedly sees us in mirror image. From his perspective, I'm the one who's inflexible and intransigent. He's the one who's right.
Sometimes holding on to a position without compromise is the right thing to do. When it comes to opposing torture in any form, you're darned right I'm stubborn. But stubbornness can have unintended, hurtful consequences in human relationships. In Wild About That Thing, Ruby's insistence on having her freedom almost costs her the love that she - that everyone - needs.
Her story reminds me to think carefully before I did in my heels. There are times when a graceful surrender of one's position is the best strategy for all concerned. I want to make sure that I make the right decision in those situations. After all, I may be stubborn, but I'm not stupid. I want my happy ending, too.