Ahh, alcohol, the great social lubricant. A chilled glass of white, a long tall beer, a fruity cocktail or a shot of Cuervo can all help our fictitious characters loosen up a little but there's a fine line between loose and frank and there's nothing quite like drunken honesty.
I seem to write a lot of tipsy heroines. Those who know me would probably say it’s a reflection on my own social drinking habits and it is true, I do love me a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc. But, even more than that, I love the dynamic that develops when a character’s internal filter is temporarily down for the count and we get to see the real person.
I like it when a character says things, does things, they’d never normally say or do. I like it when their subconscious takes over. And that’s where booze comes in. After all, alcohol’s been switching off filters for centuries!
Take Josie, the heroine from my book, No More Mr Nice Guy. Josie’s a super-straight, good-girl just out of a very beige relationship. She’s looking for fun and adventure. She wants to live a little and she’s even bought a ticket to London to get her party started.
Then Josie meets Tequila...
Don’t worry, she doesn’t lose any of her clothes - not at that point anyway. But after a night drinking cocktails with her best friend, Sal, she wakes to discover she’s composed a ten point sexual to-do list and Mack, Sal’s brother, has not only discovered it but thinks it’s hilarious. To add insult to injury she finds herself having to explain the nearby illustrated sex guide open at The Standing Wheelbarrow.
Good-girl Josie does not write sex lists. She does not perve at books with explicit pictures. But tipsy Josie lets it all hang out and from that moment on, things get really, really interesting.
Score one for Tequila.
And then there’s Sal, who gets her own story in Ask Me Nicely. Sal’s the opposite of Josie. She doesn’t need loosening up. She’s definitely no good-girl. In fact she’s perfectly happy to use alcohol and men to soothe the huge, angry, ball of grief inside her. Yep, she’s sad, bad and mad-as-hell. And Tequila is her friend.
Until one night Cuervo lets Sal down bad…
Or, so she thinks the next morning, anyway, when everything comes back with sickening clarity. No, her clothes don’t fall off either, but then whoever said you needed to lose your clothes to indulge in a little sexy times with the most inappropriate man on the planet? A man who is your flatmate. And your employee. Oh yes, it seems Doyle can get Sal off fully clothed! Sal who’s been having trouble in that department for quite some time…
Except, bad-girl Sal does not do relationships. She does not do repeat performances. Tipsy Sal on the other hand…
Score two for Tequila.
So what can we infer from this?
A) My heroines can’t hold their booze?
B) I like that Joe Nichols country song a little too much?
C) I love the way the word Cuervo rolls off the tongue?
Yes. To all three. In fact I definitely chose Tequila as my heroines drink of choice solely because of B and C. And it’s also true that whilst my heroines may over-indulge from time to time, they are far from lushes. But I think we can also infer that a little alcoholic lubrication goes a long way to a much-needed dragging out of their comfort zones.
And, let’s face it, we all need a little push sometimes… Hic!