Thank you to Sheryn MacMunn for sharing this guest blog for her Finding Out blog courtesy of CLP Blog Tours. Please visit her tour page for more information and a giveaway!
There are times when people complain about Sheila and her lack of guts in the beginning of Finding Out. A few people have told me that they actually yelled at the book because Sheila is so lost in her life. When I explain that they should be irritated with Sheila, they are often surprised.
When the character of Sheila came alive, I didn’t want to showcase a woman in the same voice as others. It seems that single female characters in books, movies and on television that are fighting to succeed are often portrayed as sad but plucky. The character has a certain cuteness that guarantees she’ll come out on top. It’s a popular and successful formula. I admit that I have enjoyed many stories like that but I think it does a disservice at times. Let’s face it, when we’re down do we really feel plucky and cute? So I really wanted to fill a gap by showing someone who is real and in her mid-thirties, much like Leah Dunham tries to show her generation in Girls.
Yes, Sheila gets dumped by Joe and didn’t realize how much of a jerk he really was. Haven’t we all had friends like that? We look at them and bite our tongue while they make excuses for some guy or we tell them the truth and they ignore us. Worse, some girls get mad and the friendship ends. And truthfully, if women weren’t drawn to the concept of loving the bad boy, Carrie and Mr. Big wouldn’t have made it past the first season.
I also wanted a character that can’t just run away. Sheila can’t go on a major trip or quit her job to travel around the world. She’s broke. Joe took everything and left a mess. Sheila has to soldier on without falling apart. After being in a relationship for seven years, she doesn’t know what to do. I had an interesting conversation with a group of women about this and they all had the same reaction: “Who hasn’t been lost and confused at one point or another? That’s life.”
Some of life’s hardest challenges are embarrassing to admit. No one wants to say that she can’t cope but at some time or another, it happens. There aren’t many people alive who can say that they are 100% confident every second of the day, every day of the year. In fact, the need to appear perfect –whether it’s the perfect daughter, girlfriend, wife or employee – can be exhausting which many women relate to.
So when naming this character, I chose ‘Sheila’ because it’s a nickname for all girls in Australia. Anyone can be a ‘Sheila’ and I realized that Sheila’s story is one for all women. We want to be loved, we want good friends in our lives and we want to be able to take care of ourselves when things go bad. ‘Davenport’ actually means a safe haven, which is what Sheila is trying to find and trying to be for her friends and co-workers. She sticks up for co-workers when things go wrong and agrees to be maid of honor though her heart is breaking. Sheila is the person who is good and true, but needs a little help. She’s the kind of person you can trust.
That trust is how she is able to forge a friendship with Ruth. While most of her co-workers roll their eyes at the friendship between an octogenarian and thirty-six year old Sheila, Sheila’s getting the help that she needs because she’s looking for truth not a Band-Aid to hide the pain. It’s also interesting that Sheila’s co-workers are suddenly interested in her friendship when they find out ‘who’ Ruth really is.
The best part about Sheila’s journey is how much she grows by taking the steps which are difficult. As the pieces of the puzzle come together, with help from Ruth, we see a woman who triumphs on her own terms which ultimately has people cheering.
**Everyone who leaves a comment on Sheryn’s tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Finding Out before March 25 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**