Contours of the Heart: the Poem

I received an interesting question through email last week - one I've answered before in interviews, ask-the-author queries on places like Goodreads, and other email inquiries, but never here on the blog: Where did Lucas's tattooed poem originate?

Short answer: I wrote it.

Longer answer: I wrote it months before I had any conception of Jacqueline or Lucas - or Easy. I woke up with the lines in my head, but I was still half-asleep when I snatched my glasses off my night table, yanked the drawer open, grabbed a pencil and scratch paper, and jotted it down. (I'm convinced our brains are in full swing while we sleep, working through pressing problems and tackling all sorts of creative tasks like the Shoemaker's Elves. Whatever I'd been pondering when I nodded off must have been quite the romantic puzzle!)

I didn't recognize what I'd written as a poem, which was funny because I'd been composing poetry since age thirteen and you'd think the five binders I'd compiled over thirty some-odd years would have made it obvious, but nope. I did recognize it as, "Whoa. I should probably keep this," however - hence the drowsy scribbling. After coffee, I used the whatever-it-was (an epiphany of sorts?) as my daily blog post, because lazy. (Thank you for that, inherent inertia.)

Fast-forward a year and a half. I was writing Easy. I'd created a hero with a good heart, a tortured soul, and no desire whatsoever to tell my heroine (or ME) anything about his past. Lucas was the opposite of communicative. I had come at his story through Jacqueline, and I felt every ounce of her frustration at what she wasn't being told. She feared a likely heartbreak in his past - something that shattered him, something his feelings for her could never touch.

Four lines were inscribed on his ribcage - a tattooed poem. I was ahead of Jacqueline, finally, in that I knew what she would find when she went digging. I knew how those words connected Lucas to his painful past. Having examined the poetry collections on my shelves and online, looking for the perfect verse, I was losing hope of finding anything acceptable when it hit me that Lucas's connection to Jacqueline was all too similar to his father's connection to his mother: a brooding, logical man in love with an sensitive, artistic woman.

That realization was triggered by a song from my playlist: Hardliners by Holcombe Waller. (Proof that art inspires art, and the reason I create a playlist for each novel which I often listen to on replay while writing.) I pulled up my blog, entered logic into the search box, and found the short post I'd written more than a year before, titled Absence. Rearranged, those words became Lucas's tattoo:

The final four words also became the title of the series that now includes EasyBreakable, and Sweet.