The Story Behind the Story: An Unexpected Frost


I’ve always thought of the Tucker series in these terms: Tucker’s Way is a challenging story; An Unexpected Frost is a sad story; April’s Rain is a forgiving story; March On is a dark story; and Who Will Hear Me When I Cry is a sweet story.

Tucker’s Way was about whether or not a character like Tucker could change and bond with a person who was the opposite of her; of course, she did that with Ella. In that book Tucker overcame so many obstacles and became a powerful heroin—the kind of person you would want as a friend.

If you have a friendship with someone, like Tucker and Ella had, what is the one thing that frightens you the most about it? It is that you will lose that friend. How will I survive without them?It is these kinds of relationships that make us feel secure, which is one of the basic needs of humans, and is why we fear losing it. Therefore, it seemed natural to me that the evolution of Tucker would have to involve how she would deal with such a loss.

I will admit that An Unexpected Frost was a most difficult story to write. I had grown to love Ella, just as Tucker had, and I loved seeing the bond that formed between them. Killing a character was something I had never done and had never thought about what that would feel like to me, especially if it was a character I cared about.

You see, a writer develops relationships with his characters, has conversations with them, asks them what they are thinking, quizzes them about their behaviors. It is a very personal and intimate process. And so, when I formulated the basic storyline for An Unexpected Frost, I dreaded writing it. Many readers have told me how much they cried when they read this book. What might might surprise you to learn is that I shed tears as I wrote it.

It was this book that taught me how passionately readers felt about my characters. They gave me an earful!

  • “Why did you let Ella die?”
  • “I can’t believe you killed Ella!”
  • “How could you do such a thing?”
  • “I didn’t like what happened to Ella.”

Those criticisms, however, made me smile because it let me know that I had created a character that people connected with and loved.


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