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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Guest Blog: Tamara Carlisle


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.

The basic elements of a story are characters, setting and plot. The elements of a romance plot are the set-up wherein the hero and heroine meet and fall in love, the conflict in the relationship between the hero and heroine, and the resolution of the conflict that leaves the readers satisfied at the conclusion of the story. The following sets forth how I dealt with the various story and plot elements in Away from the Spotlight:

1. Characters

a. A Desirable, Fantasy Hero

Reading a romance novel is like taking a little vacation in someone else’s life. It is a fantasy. Consequently, the reader has to want to stand in the place of the heroine and be with the hero. The hero must be desirable and, without being too unrealistic, better than the men the reader deals with in real life.

In Away from the Spotlight, Will MacKenzie is a fantasy hero, a famous actor who is gorgeous, intelligent, loving, and wealthy, and lives to spoil heroine, Shannon Sutherland.

b. A Likeable, Relatable Heroine

Since the reader is standing in the shoes of the heroine in the romantic fantasy, the reader must, to some degree, relate to the heroine and her behavior in the story. Consequently, the heroine cannot be unlikable, behave badly without some justification and/or remorse, or behave in an illogical fashion.

In Away from the Spotlight, Shannon Sutherland is in a transition period in her life, about to graduate from law school as the story commences and getting ready to start her career. Everyone can relate to such a transition period whether it is leaving high school, college or graduate school and preparing for the next stage of life, whatever that next stage may be.

With respect to how Shannon reacts to Will and his lavish treatment of her, most women likely can relate to Shannon’s wondering whether she is good enough to deserve Will, if they place themselves in her position. I think that, if Shannon were nonchalant about it all, she would come off as entitled and be unlikeable as a result.

2. Setting

In a romance novel, the setting can be wherever makes sense for the plot, be it a small town, a big city, an exotic locale, or an adventure around the world. That said, the reader needs to believe that the setting is realistic. If a writer uses a particular real location, the writer should either have personal knowledge of that location or perform enough research to ensure that the setting in the novel matches reality.

The primary settings of Away from the Spotlight are Los Angeles and London, with some travel to Ireland and Continental Europe included in the story. I have personal knowledge of most of the locations in the story. I lived in L.A. for more than 20 years and have traveled extensively in the U.K. and Europe. Notwithstanding, I still researched the locations I used on the internet to ensure I captured things correctly. For example, my law school graduation ceremony was held at the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium. It is now held in the McCarthy Quad. In addition, USC’s Ronald Tutor Campus Center has replaced the old Commons from my day as a main lunch spot on campus.

Although I have spent quite a bit of time in London over the years, I haven’t spent time in Hampstead. I used Hampstead after researching where famous people lived in London. Once I saw that Liam Gallagher of Oasis lived there, I made my choice - I am a music fanatic and I love Oasis. I then researched listings for high-end flats and used one as the basis of Will MacKenzie’s Hampstead residence.

3. Plot

a. Set-Up - Hero Meets Heroine and They Fall in Love

Shannon meets Will at The Royalist, a Santa Monica pub, when he backs into her, causing her to spill her drink. They spend time talking together, and Will asks Shannon on a date. They continue to date and fall for each other. The first conflict then begins to brew.

b. Conflict - Relationship Issue(s) to Be Overcome

Without conflict, there would be no story.

Will and Shannon have two issues to overcome in Away from the Spotlight. The first are the problems associated with Will’s fame. The second is Will’s competition for Shannon’s affections, Shannon’s co-worker, John Maher.

1. Effects of Fame

Will’s fame causes a number of problems for the couple. At the outset of the story, Will refrains from telling Shannon who he is because he wants to be “normal” for a while. That lie of omission causes the first problem in the relationship. The next set of problems stem from trying to hide the relationship from the media. Once the relationship is discovered by the press, the issues come to a head with paparazzi following Shannon everywhere, almost causing accidents, and causing problems in her workplace. To what lengths would Will go to ensure Shannon is safe and keeps her job?

2. Love Triangle

Will has competition for Shannon’s affections, Shannon’s co-worker and former crush, John Maher. John is always there whenever Will and Shannon have problems or when Will is not around. Which one will Shannon choose? Does she even have a choice?

c. Resolution - Satisfying Ending

At the end of the story, the issues must be resolved and there has to be a “happily ever after” for the reader to feel satisfied. There is a “happily ever after” in Away from the Spotlight, but there’s a twist or two in the tale first. However, I don’t want to spoil them here. You’ll have to read the story.

About the Author:
Tamara Carlisle is a former attorney and business consultant. Away from the Spotlight is her first published work of fiction. She currently is working on two additional novels: one is about love in the music industry and the other is a work of paranormal fiction. Tamara currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her British husband and daughter. For further information, go to




Library Thing:


Tamara’s Goodreads Author Page also includes a blog detailing trivia relating to Away from the Spotlight.

In the closing weeks of law school, Shannon Sutherland meets handsome and charming Englishman Will MacKenzie. Initially swept off her feet, Shannon finds that Will has a secret that, once discovered and the consequences realized, could destroy their fledgling relationship. Will and Shannon take great pains to have a normal relationship but, ultimately, find it impossible to do so. Will the pressures of their careers and the temptations of others drive Will and Shannon apart? Can Will and Shannon live a happy life away from the spotlight?


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

thank you for hosting Tamara today

Ingeborg said...

I enjoyed reading the plot elements.

Tamara Carlisle said...

Good morning and thank you for hosting me today! I look forward to checking in today and reading the comments. What element hooks you? Is it the hero or heroine, the setting, a love triangle as the conflict or something else?

Tamara Carlisle said...

Thanks, Ingeborg! I appreciate your joining us this morning.

MomJane said...

I loved your comments about the book and characters. You have really given it a lot of thought. this story sounds awesome.

Tamara Carlisle said...

Thanks, MomJane - I appreciate it! For someone who did a very right-brained thing in writing a novel, I tried to approach it in a left-brained way to some degree. Hope you enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I can forgive a lot if the characters are amazing, so I guess they come first for me!


Tamara Carlisle said...

You and me both, Vitajex! I appreciate your stopping in this afternoon.

Debby said...

Great post. I liked the way you laid it all out,
debby236 at gmail dot com

Tamara Carlisle said...

Thanks, Debby - I am glad you liked the post and appreciate that you joined us here today.

Tamara Carlisle said...

Thank you to LASR Romance Guests for hosting me. This has been fun. I look forward to continuing to follow the blog and finding out about more stories for me to read.

Mary Preston said...

The break down is fabulous to read through thank you.


Tamara Carlisle said...

Thanks, Mary! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate you joining us here.

Shannon Ro said...

I loved the breakdown, it really does sound like a great book and you made some great points for it

fencingromein at hotmail dot com

Tamara Carlisle said...

Thanks, Shannon! I'm glad you liked the post. I appreciate your joining us here.

Tamara Carlisle said...

Congratulations to Mary P. and Shannon R. for winning the Amazon $25 gift cards! I appreciate everyone who joined me on my tour. Please stay in touch on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads!