One of the main protagonists of Don’t Ask Me to Leave is Rachel Miller, a young newlywed. The character of Rachel Miller is, of course, loosely based on the Biblical character of Ruth–that much you know. But just who is she?
When I write a work longer than a short story, I like to find a photograph or two that I can use as a reference for my main characters. In that way, I can avoid accidentally changing their hair color or other features. My visual reference for Rachel was Jennifer Garner. I chose Jennifer Garner because I think while she’s capable of great strength, her appearance can often give the impression of weakness and frailty–a characteristic Rachel unfortunately struggles with. I also like that Jennifer Garner has very real “girl-next-door” beauty.
Rachel is alone in the world, having lost both of her parents in a car accident when she was in high school. She was raised by a maiden aunt, but the relationship was not a close one, and Rachel has not really kept in touch since leaving for college.
When Rachel met her future husband at the University of Southern Indiana, she was excited to meet his family–his twin brother and his loving, accepting parents. It seemed that for the first time in a long time, Rachel was destined for happiness. New husband, new town, new job teaching history at the high school–everything is perfect in her life.
As you know from the Biblical story, Rachel’s first marriage is doomed to be a short one–and that was quite the challenge for me to write. I waited to write the death and reaction scenes until I was at home alone one evening. As twilight fell, I left the lights in my living room off and my curtains open, writing and sobbing in the darkness. I felt her pain as if it was my own–not something I enjoyed doing.
Of course, Rachel won’t be alone forever–at least, not if she can allow herself to get past her misgivings and give the handsome neighbor, Beau, a chance. Will she set her grief aside and learn to live again? Or will she remain wrapped up in her past anguish? Only time will tell…
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