When deciding the location for story, an author has several choices. For me, what’s most important is determining if I’m going to make up a city or town, or use a real location. Years ago, my husband and I took a group of youth skiing during their Christmas break. We came across a quaint town called Helen, Georgia, and I immediately fell in love with its Bavarian-style Alpine Village and Christmas shops. Then when the time came for me to pick the setting for my Gaining Love series, it was no surprise Helen, Georgia, came to mind. The scenic views, rustic chapels, and lovely shops had swept me off my feet. While the first story in the series, To Gain a Mommy, takes place in Melbourne, Florida, the last two are located in Helen, Georgia.
After deciding the location for the stories, it was time to determine the characters (that is, if they haven’t already made themselves known). Thankfully, Madi and Brice were already “alive” in my mind, but I was in the beginning stages of learning who they were. Madi, the spunky and strong undercover agent, was somewhat easier since she was in the previous novella, To Gain a Valentine. However, my hero, war veteran Brice Johnson, wasn’t so easy. Little did I know that God would use my life experiences to bring Brice to life.
“Protecting you is a job worth dying for; loving you is a gift worth living for, and I want both. To my very last breath.” Wow. This quote from the hero of the book, Brice, says all that needs to be said about his character. He’s a war veteran plagued by PTSD and now working as an undercover agent with Madi. He’s the silent, solid, dependable, loyal type who doesn’t think he deserves Madi. Madi is spunky and good at what she does as an undercover agent. She’s loved Brice for a while now, it seems, but he keeps pushing her away and she’s confused by all of it.” —MH, Amazon reviewer
For the past six years, I’ve worked with a federal program to help senior citizens stay active in their communities. In doing so, I’ve joined with several organizations to assist with volunteerism, and one of them is our local Veterans Administration. Through health fairs, health summits, and more, I’ve spoken with active military and veterans who’ve battled PTSD. I’ve also learned the signs, affects, and treatments that are available for this disorder, and one of my heart’s desires is to help bring more awareness to it. Although To Gain a Bodyguard is fiction, it’s real in the sense that Brice represents so many of our military—their sacrifices and their love for their families, country, the brothers and sisters they’ve left behind, and the struggles they face back in the States.
“In Tanya Eavenson’s book, To Gain a Bodyguard, Madi Reynolds is strong while still managing to be vulnerable. Madi is an ICE Agent, working undercover for Homeland Security. Things get complicated when she starts to be attracted to her bodyguard, Brice Johnson. Thanks to some cliffhangers and the clever use of post-it-notes, the reader can’t wait to see what happens next. While a work of fiction, this novel addresses the very real issues of PTSD and human trafficking. I love Tanya’s writing style. It draws you into the scene, and her work is very well researched.” —SP, Amazon reviewer
One thing that plagues writers from time to time is doubt. From the middle of To Gain a Bodyguard to the last chapter, I was bombarded by thoughts of my inadequacies, wondering if I could really bring my characters to life for my readers. I’m an author who wants her readers to “feel” the hero and heroine and their struggles. At the same time, I was also questioning if I should only mention the topic of human trafficking, or dive deeper.
At the end of the editing process, with my concerns about my characters resolved, doubts still lingered about the human trafficking aspect of the story. That was, until my church was asked to help host an event to make local communities more aware of human trafficking. The event was held at a high school, and my husband, as a youth pastor, was very involved. I wasn’t able to attend, but he bought me a book by the author who was speaking, Rescuing Hope by Susan Norris. Honestly, I couldn’t finish the book. The real-life hurts and pains brought on by human depravity… I knew at that moment that while I could touch on the subject of human trafficking, I couldn’t add more of it to my manuscript. It wasn’t my story to write.
I’ve learned that the Lord will always direct our paths, including in our writing—that if we follow Him, He will never lead us astray. The proof? This wonderful 4-star review from RT Book Reviews of To Gain a Bodyguard:
"Eavenson brings characters to life and includes excitement, romance and action in her latest novella. While some of the themes or situations are not drawn out as long or as deeply as they could be, readers expect that when reading a book of this length. The relationship between ICE agent Madi Reynolds and her bodyguard Brice Johnson is realistic, at times strained and other times emotional. The novella moves at a quick pace and starts the action early on, drawing readers in and keeping them engaged through the end." —RT Book Reviews
I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at To Gain a Bodyguard. Out of the three aspects of building the story, which did you find most interesting? Isn’t it amazing how the Lord directs and guides our steps.
Thanks for joining me. Have a blessed weekend!