As many of you know, Fifteen Minutes of Shame was published in the strangest of ways and I miraculously (insanely? stupidly?) sold it with no novel-writing experience whatsoever.
So, check and deadline looming, I sat down and attempted to actually produce a novel.
Something I wasn’t exactly sure how to do.
Here’s the gist of the story: America’s favorite TV dating expert Darby Vaughn finds out her husband Will is cheating on her, live on national television. She throws up and passes out, and becomes the national laughingstock and fodder for late night comedians.
Darby has become particularly close to her stepchildren Lilly & Aidan, who are her husband Will’s children from his former marriage. Her divorce attorney Holt Gregory informs her she doesn’t have a chance of getting custody of her children unless she gets back together with Will.
As I was writing the story, I needed to give Darby a really good reason to resist a relationship with Holt. (Otherwise, there would be no love triangle, just one philandering husband left in the dust on page 72.) Holt is a tall, funny, rakishly yummy, well-mannered, brilliant attorney with a southern accent and Patrick Dempsey hair. No sane woman would ever walk away from that. I had to give him some flaws, some serious flaws.
So, I did what any inexperienced novelist would do. I tried to kill him off.
I gave Holt a fatal, meticulously researched heart condition. And poor Darby, who had already had so much loss in her life, just couldn’t bear to play nursemaid to a dead man walking.
My editor, Allison Dickens, called me as she emailed my editorial letter.
“I love the book,” she said, “but you can’t kill Holt.”
“But his illness is the thing that’s keeping them apart!” I argued, freshly fortified with all of the Novel Writing For Morons/How to Write a Novel books I’d devoured in the previous eight weeks.
“I think you need to find another thing,” she told me. “Darby has been through a lot, this feels like the kitchen sink.”
I thought about it that afternoon and that night, and I realized she was right. I needed to find a more interesting (and frankly, less Movie of the Week) reason why Holt and Darby shouldn’t be together.
(Also, I kept flashing back to my mother, who called me after she read the manuscript wailing, “Why, why, WHY, does Holt have to die? Isn’t there an operation? Some miracle cure? A Czechoslovakian pacemaker? Something???”)
I was very aware of my inexperience with writing a novel, and had promised myself I would give careful consideration to any editorial suggestions, even if my immediate impulse was to dig in, throw my computer out the window or hit the drive-thru at Dunkin Donuts for an emergency case of jelly donuts.
I wanted for Fifteen Minutes to be realistic, unpredictable, cheese-free. I wanted it to be good.
That afternoon I got to work on saving Holt.
You’ll be happy to hear that his heart is perfectly fine. As is my mother’s.
17 Replies to “Save Holt! Deleted scenes from Fifteen Minutes of Shame by Deb Lisa Daily”
I have this book on my list to get soon
Thank you for saving Holt. You did an excellent job making Fifteen Minutes realistic, unpredictable and quite cheese-free.
Thanks so much, hope you love it!
Thank you 🙂 I appreciate the compliment. It’s so funny now to think that the story could have gone in such a dramatically different way.
My editor also asked me add in another Holt scene earlier in the book (More Holt! More Holt!), and I wrote the scene with Darby and Holt at the Cuban restaurant in Miami, which ended up being one of my favorite scenes in the book.
I find it truly fascinating that while I do get quite a bit of mail from women who really related to Darby’s character, or are going through something similar in their own lives, I get even more fan mail for Holt.
Who’s going to play Holt in the movie?
Is Holt going to be in your next novel?
Is Holt based on a real person?
And the Holt comment that left me smiling all day — Laurie Viera Rigler, Janeite and author of CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT (www.janeaustenaddict.com) wrote me an amazing email that said,
“Speaking of which, my absolute favorite part was when Holt (be still my heart) kisses Darby that first time and declares his feelings. Very Mr. Darcy-like (“My feelings will not be repressed; you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you” ) but without the insults!”
One of the most meaningful compliments I’ve ever received.
I’m glad you saved Holt too! I sorta had a crush on him 😉
Thank goodness he was saved!
I’m going to be chuckling all day about the “Arrested Development” joke, here… Save Holt!
Looks like your mom was only a year or so ahead of the curve in her thinking. Or does she have some close connection to the Czech medical community? This from the Prague Daily Mirror:
First Czech patient receives new type of pacemaker
By ČTK / Published 2 July 2008
Prague, July 1 (CTK) – Doctors from Prague’s Central Military Hospital (UVN) performed a surgery Tuesday in which they in the first time implanted an absolutely new type of pacemaker, capable of automatic programming of a concrete patient, cardiologist Libor Kamenik told journalists Tuesday.
“This is a unique system permitting to distinguish the patient’s individual needs,” he said.
The new pacemaker is designed to eliminate dizziness and fainting spells caused by the patient’s irregular heartbeat.
The UVN cardiological centre has implanted 234 pacemakers of other types over the past 12 months, Kamenik said.
He said before their departure from the hospital each patient receives information about how to handle his pacemaker.
“They should avoid electromagnetic fields, for instance,” Kamenik said, adding that keeping a cell telephone in a breast pocket could, for instance, complicate the work of a pacemaker as well as the closeness to a TV transmitter or an industrial welding device.
The new technology allows to control patients with a pacemaker at distance. Some 200 Czech patients daily use home-monitoring devices.
Me too 🙂
Especially after the Cuban restaurant scene…
Heh, heh, heh…. 🙂 Love Arrested Development.
GET OUT! Very cool — this is quite amazing — I had no idea 🙂 Really, I was just being a smart ass.
Thanks for all the great comments, guys!!
So strange, so strange. And it’s the Prague Daily Monitor, not the Mirror. Whoops.
I thought we writer types were supposed to have difficulty killing our darlings and here you are wiping out Holt with nary a thought. I’m crushed. I”m so glad he was saved.
Well, they’re easily confused. I try to read both before breakfast…
Maybe I should switch to murder mysteries…
This is such a funny post, Lisa. I love that scene in the Cuban restaurant and Holt was quite a doll so I’m happy you didn’t kill him off!
My mother has always been ahead of her time…
Thank you so much 🙂 I’m very glad Holt lives (disease free) too, also very glad to have written a character that someone might actually have an interest in saving.
And I’ll always be very thankful to Allison Dickens for saving me from myself.
What the %$#@! was I thinking?
I am SO HAPPY that Holt remains in good health! Thanks so much for re-thinking his demise. :~)
Love and kisses,
How fun to read this… thanks for sharing it!!
Thank you Mom 🙂
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