I love hearing from readers about Kennedy's roommate Willow. A lot of people say things like, "I'm actually surprised, but I like her a lot!"
Willow is Kennedy's foil and the perfect opposition to her high-strung personality. It's hard to picture two college students any less alike, yet their respectful coexistence morphs into true friendship.
The funny thing is I've discovered a character like Willow in every one of my series to date. A few days ago I blogged about The Author's Subconscious and the times I've surprised myself by recognizing recurring characters or themes in my books. Usually, I can pinpoint where those personalities came from, but in Willow's case, I'm perfectly clueless.
As far as I know, with the exception of a cabin-mate during a two-night orchestra camp when I was in junior high, I never developed a deep friendship with someone like Willow, but the feisty, worldly roommate who jumps in and takes the more prudish newbie under her wing shows up in the Kennedy books, The Beloved Daughter, and my Agent Ko Spy Thriller series.
For this week's Christian Fiction Friday, I'd like you to meet Willow so if you haven't read any of the Kennedy Stern suspense novels yet, you'll get a feel for who she is.
“I thought you’d be out tonight,” Kennedy remarked. In the past two months since they first came to Harvard, Willow hadn’t spent a single night in on the weekend.
“I’m not staying.” Willow sprayed some mousse into her hands and scrunched it through her hair. “I’m just waiting for Keegan.”
“Who’s Keegan?” At first, Kennedy had tried to keep track of Willow’s dates, but when she realized her roommate hardly saw anyone more than once or twice, she gave up the habit.
“Keegan. I thought I told you about him. He’s Cesario in Twelfth Night.”
Kennedy watched Willow crumple her hair into gravity-defying curls and waves. “Isn’t Cesario supposed to be played by a girl?”
Willow shrugged and studied herself in her little desk mirror. “This version is sort of a modern retelling. Drag queens, bisexuals ... Shakespeare would’ve loved it.”
Kennedy watched Willow put on some colorful bead earrings she had made herself and wondered how her roommate found time for crafts.
Willow glanced over at Kennedy’s computer. “What are you studying?”
“Oh, I just got a lab I need to get ready to turn in on Monday.”
Willow, who could hardly ever sit still for more than five seconds, crossed her arms and eyed Kennedy critically. “You ok?”
Kennedy didn’t think she had done such a bad job hiding her stress about Rose’s phone call. She definitely didn’t want to talk about it with Willow, who probably believed Carl and Sandy’s pregnancy center would set back women’s rights by half a century or more. “I’m fine. Just tired.”
Her roommate frowned. “You don’t need to talk or anything?”
What was this? Willow sounded like Kennedy’s mother, who always had an uncanny way of knowing if something was bothering her. “I’m fine. I really am.”
Willow raised her eyes to the ceiling as if she were trying to remember the lines for a play. Finally she lowered them to give Kennedy a penetrating stare. “I’m just asking because I saw you on an abortion site. Are you in trouble?”
Kennedy let out a nervous laugh. No wonder Willow had been so concerned. It was sort of endearing, but also a little troubling. Didn’t Willow know her well enough by now to understand Kennedy’s values? “I wasn’t looking it up for me.”
Her roommate frowned. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You wouldn’t be the first Christian girl to get knocked up on campus.”
“It’s really not for me.” Kennedy didn’t have the energy to tell Willow everything about Rose and the hotline phone. She hoped her roommate’s date, Keegan, or whatever his name was, would show up soon.
Willow shrugged. “All right. Just remember, the longer you wait to deal with it, the harder it is. They even have pills now. So much easier than sitting in stirrups with a doctor and nurse gaping down at you.”
Kennedy wanted to shut her ears.
“The thing with the pills is you can only take them in the first few weeks. So if you are in trouble, now’s the time to do something about it. I know a good clinic I could recommend. You know me. I’m the last person to judge.” Willow had stopped staring at Kennedy and was now pouting in the mirror as she applied her eye makeup. “I mean, I know you’re probably all pro-life and everything, but there are obviously going to be exceptions, like when the mother’s safety is threatened.”
Kennedy didn’t say anything. The more she insisted the research was for someone else, the more Willow would doubt her, anyway.