The Story Behind The Other Lane

A post shared by Marla Holt (@tinydinostudios) on

It’s no secret that I wrote The Other Lane for Nanowrimo in 2014, but what I haven’t mentioned was that I first wrote Lane as a character in a short story for one of my fiction writing classes all the way back in 2010.

I was in my final fiction writing workshop of my college career, and everyone in the class agreed I needed to work on my settings. My dialog was great. Emotions were well-described. I didn’t bog down the narrative telling the reader how to feel about the characters, but nobody could picture where my story took place.

At the time I was super annoyed. I mean, my classmates were totally right in their critique, I was concentrating so much on perfecting characters and their story, I very rarely described their surroundings. I mean, it was clear in my head, obviously that’s enough right?

So, in the spirit of being a little contrary, but still taking my critiques in stride, I set my next story in the place I spent most of my time–the coffee shop where I worked. I changed the name, but for the most part, Cristo’s Coffee was my coffee shop. “Cristo’s Cofee” was even the original name of the story.  The shop and the story have gone through numerous revisions and iterations since then, so they don’t really resemble the original anymore, but believe me. That’s a good thing.

In the short story, Lane is working behind the counter eavesdropping on two women gossiping about her. She’s outraged and offended because despite serving these women coffee everyday, they don’t know her. They don’t know what she’s been through or how she got to be where she is. In short, they don’t know Lane’s story, because how could they? She doesn’t talk about it. She doesn’t let anyone in.

By the end of the story, it turns out that the women were actually talking about someone else named Lane, and not the surly barista at all. So in the short story, “The Other Lane” is actually another physical person.

In the novel, that other Lane doesn’t make an appearance, but the title still holds. As much The Other Lane is a love story, it’s also the story of Lane learning how to trust and rely on herself.

That’s where the idea of the modern fairy tale comes in. I wrote the first draft of the novel completely by the seat of my pants. I didn’t have any characters other than Lane (Yes, including the hero. He just sat down at the counter in chapter three and was his charming self out of nowhere.) I knew two things going in, that I wanted to write a love story centered around this devastated character I’d never been finished with, and I wanted to write a story that while, yes, she got the guy in the end, that wasn’t all there was to it.

It took awhile to make that happen. I mean, I revised the thing for two years straight after I finished the first draft. Finding balance between story book romance and a character who isn’t passive in her own happily every after took more delicate work than I was prepared for when I decided upon the idea.

I truly love the way this book turned out though. I still pat myself on the back every time I finish it because of how much I love the ending. I can’t wait to share it with you.

July 10th is only two more months away, but if you need something to read now, you can check out the first six chapters or meet the hero for free! (Links also sign you up for my newsletter.)

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