Please welcome to Romaniac HQ, author Tracy Tappan, who has kindly joined us to explain her fab concept, The Character Couch.
Mr and Mrs Smith is one of my all-time favourite movies. You’ll see why I’ve mentioned this in a moment. If you don’t know the film, I recommend watching it before reading Tracy’s brilliant post below :-)
Take us away … sorry … take it away, Tracy.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in the action-packed movie “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” are a husband and wife who don’t know each other are assassins. The movie opens with these two sitting in front of a therapist, squirming with discomfort; we guess this is as much from the possibility of having to bare their souls—something an assassin can’t do—as from the idea of talking about a marriage that has obviously been filled with lies. Either way, it’s going to be entertaining. And, oh, yes, the therapist kicks off the session with a bang.
“How often do you have sex?” he asks.
“I don’t understand the question,” Angelina Jolie returns, dead-pan.
“Is this on a scale of 1 to 10?” Brad puts in.
“So is 1 very little,” Angelina continues, “or is 1 nothing? Because, technically speaking…zero would be nothing.”
So it seems that Brad and Angelina haven’t been having sex for a while.
We can hardly believe it.
The episode is funny, touching, and intriguing, which is exactly the tone of my reader-focused website, The Character Couch (www.charactercouch.com), where fans can suggest their favorite romance couple to be brought into a therapy session. Yes, this is therapy, but these sessions are anything but angst-ridden. They are written in the same spirit as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” drawing us in to be a fly on the wall and peek at something we normally wouldn’t be able to see.
Will there be amusing bantering in these sessions, a sense of firm, quiet resolve, poignancy? Sure. All of it. Every session is different, but always attention-grabbing.
Don’t you find that the best books always stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page, leaving you hungry for more? I know I go crazy waiting for the next novel in a series to come out, and I figured other readers felt the same. So I came up with an idea that would combine my two loves—of doing therapy and writing romance—in a way that would provide innovative, free entertainment for fans.
Today, I share about my unique endeavor.
What could we expect to see if you had “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” on The Character Couch?
LOL. Well, I think first you’d see the therapist secretly getting moon-eyed over Brad Pitt! And could we blame her?
Therapist Regan Malloy has been so exciting to create. I’ve already morphed her to fit a multitude of romance sub-genres. She’s been a French ex-pat from a time travel romance, a bespeckled Brit from a contemporary racehorse romance, a saloon mistress in America’s old west, and a wizened crone facing down a couple of vampires.
Regan also brings her own struggles into the session, whether that’s fear or uncertainty, confusion about her clients, or maybe just a verbal blunder of some sort. So, each month, the therapist is as different as her clients.
It’s all about keeping the site dynamic and entertaining!
That does sound like a great deal of fun for readers.
Oh, definitely. I always pose questions at the end of the session, too, because fan involvement adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the experience. Readers get a chance to join the “analysis” and tell me and the participating author what they think. This month for Zoe Dawson’s New York City based contemporary romance, COLLARED, the debate is flying about the dissimilar backgrounds of the hero and heroine, and the possible effects on their relationship. I’m impressed at how thought-provoking and insightful people’s comments have been.
It’s a fantastic time.
It seems that this site could also benefit authors.
Without question. The commentary I was just talking about offers an excellent way for authors to increase their social reach; comments are laterally posted on Facebook, so that the discussion can be seen by all of a fan’s friends—which means thousands!
The Character Couch is an innovative way for authors to market their books, and they’ve been really creative with their use of it. Many authors run contests, where fans are asked to vote on which couple from one of the author’s romance series they’d like to see go into therapy. Several lucky participants win prizes, and the book with the most votes earns a session on The Couch. This kindles fan enthusiasm even before the session is posted!
The procedure for readers is very user-friendly: people just click on the “Suggest A Book” icon in the side bar of the site and input their choice—anytime!
Readers don’t have to wait for a contest to make a suggestion!
This month, the award-winning author of COLLARED, Zoe Dawson, has done something very clever. Her characters, New York City cop, Caleb Shaw, and wealthy socialite, Harper Sinclair, have some issues that still need resolving (is it any wonder, considering he’s a cop and she’s an heiress?!). So Zoe got the ball rolling with Caleb and Harper’s problems in The Character Couch session…then left the issues to be settled in a follow-on wedding novella, CAPTURED. By doing this, she stirred up readers’ excitement more than ever to read her novella.
And yet, you write the sessions, don’t you?
I do. It’s a process that requires a great deal of attention to detail on my part in order to represent absolutely correctly another author’s characters. Not one word goes onto the site without an author’s full approval (authors can go to the FAQ section on the site for more detail).
And so far, so good! The testimonials page glows with the praise from alumni authors.
This has been one of the most satisfying parts of this endeavor for me; it means I’ve succeeded in honoring their stories, and that feels terrific.
How does a session typically end?
Oh, there isn’t a “typical” with these sessions; that’s another fun part. Every month, it’s a new journey, and you never know at what point you might laugh or get a clench of emotion in your chest. Or where a surprise might pop out at you.
Like the ending to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”
During the course of the movie, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have discovered that each other are assassins. With the truth out, there’s hope for their marriage now. They end up in front of the therapist again, recapping, still spouting off to each other, but in a way that makes us chuckle; we know they’re going to be okay. The therapist seems to agree, talking about how marriage takes work, but—
Brad interrupts to say, “Ask us the ‘how many times did you have sex this week?’ question again.”
“John,” Angelina Jolie scolds quietly, while Brad Pitt proudly flashes ten fingers outside of Angelina’s sight lines.
Oh, yes, expect fun surprises!
* * *
Tracy is the award-winning author of gritty romance, her books spanning genres across paranormal (The Community series), military suspense (The Wings of Gold series), and Historical (The Baron’s War trilogy). During nearly a quarter of a century spent as a military wife, she lived all over the United States and in Europe, enjoying seven years overseas in the diplomatic community, first in Rome then in Madrid, until she settled back in San Diego. Tracy holds a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, and has used this background to create a fan-based website called The Character Couch, where romance’s favorite couples are brought into a fun session with therapist, Regan Malloy. Her debut paranormal novel, THE BLOODLINE WAR, is a Bronze Medal winner for romance of the prestigious Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY), available now on Amazon. FREE from June 10-14th 2014.
To learn more, please visit her website at http://www.tracytappan.com/
Thank you so much, Tracy, for this fascinating insight in The Character Couch. I’m convinced my heroes and heroines could all do with a dose of Regan Malloy. One day …