One of the ongoing battles I face as a parent is ensuring my girls strike a healthy balance of screen time with more productive pursuits—like playing outside, reading books, and learning how to interact as human beings. At nine and fourteen, they possess an array of phones, tablets, and games, along with an understanding of technology that I’ll never have. My husband and I have done this to ourselves by providing these items, and although we impose limits, it’s hard not to roll our eyes when we find ourselves talking to the “tech zombies.”
I know. The fact that I spend my time staring at my computer screen writing makes me a hypocrite. But I’d argue that I’m actually using my brain. I’m developing characters and plots, creating and solving problems, and helping couples find their happily-ever-after. I’m actively engaged, not staring at a screen in a coma-like stupor.
I confess. Sometimes inspiration happens when I’m plugged in.
For me, a good movie (or a bad one) can be the catalyst that helps flesh out a character, solve a plot problem, or give me a much needed change in perspective—much like my favorite authors do.
For example, in my latest book, An Inconvenient Mistress, I wanted the hero, Phillip, to be a privateer. Problem was, he’d grown up as an aristocrat. Why would a gentleman leave his pampered life to go to sea? How could I make an outlaw likeable, while at the same time make him as mercenary as he needed to be for the plot twists? His brothers, Simon and Ethan, had been easy to develop. Phillip, on the other hand, remained a challenge.
I’d turned the character over in my mind, yet no matter how hard I tried, I struggled. It wasn’t until I was sitting in a darkened theater, munching popcorn, that I found my answer. Phillip was a charming opportunist who’d always spin a situation to his advantage, while maintaining his own moral code. He was the type of hero who’d do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Sure, he’s brash and stubborn and arrogant, but he’s also charming and loyal and principled…in his own way.
The movie had nothing to do with romance or privateers. (I don’t even remember if I liked it.) I think zoning out for an hour simply allowed my brain to take a much needed break.
So, as much as I hate to admit it, I see the lure of occasionally plugging in. It can be…liberating.
Of course, my kids will never know. In fact, I’m turning off our wi-fi this afternoon so my tech zombies will go outside to play.
About the Author
Caroline Kimberly has spent most of her life making up stories to help offset the daily grind. Historical romance has always been her favorite genre, and brainstorming romantic romps makes life as a soccer mom much more interesting.
She lives in Minnesota with her patient husband, two busy daughters, and three lazy cats.
An Inconvenient Mistress
Isabella North needs a hero, but if an arrogant mercenary is all she can find…he’ll just have to do. She must get back to England before her past catches up with her, even if that means booking passage on a vessel captained by a man she cannot abide.
Phillip Ashford, notorious smuggler and captain of the privateer Intrepid, knows Miss North is trouble. She’s stubborn for starters, and it’s painfully clear that she’s conning him—she looks more like a schoolmarm than the rich man’s mistress she claims to be. But beneath her prim exterior is a sharp with and courageous spirit that draws him in despite himself.
They both know they should keep their distance. But passion flares as they defend themselves on the high seas—until Phillip begins asking questions Isabella would rather not answer. After all, how much can she really share with a man she’ll never trust?