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Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Dog Days of Summer


She isn’t the one who straightened Aidan out, just the one who saw through the façade. She’s the girl who got the boy of her dreams, but she’s not naïve enough to think it’s smooth sailing from there. She has plenty on her plate, but she takes on Aidan’s drama because, well, she’s just that tough when it comes to the people she cares about.



Sam’s dad died when she was young, and it hit her hard. She could have gone out of state; her grades were strong enough to get her into a multitude of colleges. But she stayed home to help her mom raise her sister. (Not to knock UT.) Her biggest commitment is her family.

That’s how she’s able to accept the club: the family angle. She knows that it’s a big extended family for Aidan, and she’s seen lots of it growing up in Knoxville. It was important to me that, though she’s another civilian, like Emmie, she didn’t have a problem with Aidan’s commitment to the club. Heck – it’s nice just to see Aidan commit to something.

Sam’s more or less stepped into the place her father left within her own family, given her much-younger sister’s frivolous attitude, and her mother’s easily-flustered disposition. She’s used to behaving in a parental way, so taking on baby Lainie wasn’t a big stretch – nor was offering almost-parental support to Aidan along the way.


I really didn’t intend to have more than one writer in this Dartmoor universe, but a) I really wanted Sam and Ava to be classmates; and b) to write is to study human behavior, and I thought it would give Sam an edge when it came to empathizing with and understanding Aidan on a deeper level. Also, you have to be a little romantic at heart to be a writer.

I have to admit that I enjoy writing characters who are writers. It’s a guilty pleasure weakness; the WIP I’m saving for NaNoWriMo features a main character who is yet another writer. You see, in my head, all my characters are much better writers than I am; the kind of writers I admire. A personal fantasy of being better than I am? Maybe.

But Sam’s a writer, and professor, and I like to think teaching has lent her the patience she needs when dealing with Aidan.


Poor Sam is the Queen of Pining, and I always feel compelled to defend her. At least a little. I don’t think Aidan deserves her pining, but it isn’t something she could ever control.  And it wasn’t an active thought during the years between high school and her reintroduction to Aidan in Ava’s kitchen.

I just love the image of Sam, quiet and shy, nudging her glasses up her nose, as a teenager whose eyes are drawn to Aidan, the same as all the other girls. But she doesn’t care about his safety-pinned jeans, or his wallet chain, or the fact that he has tattoos too early that the teachers make him cover with Band-Aids. That isn’t the attraction for her. In her eyes, it’s the way his jaw is still just a little soft with baby fat, and the way his eyes get a little vulnerable when he’s called on it class and he doesn’t know the answer. The way he chews on his pens, and the way he’s so kind to skinny, crazy-haired little Kevin Estes. Right from the beginning, she saw all the little things that made him Aidan, and it was never about the old fantasy of taming the bad boy, but about wanting to draw the latent sweetness out into the open, hoping he’d share it with her. It was infatuation, plain and simple, but an informed infatuation. She never had any naïve ideas about Aidan Teague, but she wanted him anyway, and hated that she did.

Fast-forward to their adult selves, and she doesn’t know why he won’t just find someone who will love him. Because she thinks he really needs that, but is just too stubborn to admit it to himself.


The sweetest thing about Sam is the way she never rejected Lainie for a second. She never took her anger with Aidan out on the baby; she took that girl on as her own, because that’s what Lainie needed. There was lots of drama in Smoke, but one thing I always knew: Sam was going to be a good mother, without question. The scenario wasn’t at all fair to Sam – she finally has the man she always wanted, and he’s having a baby with another woman. But that’s the thing – life it’s fair, and it certainly isn’t a fairytale. Maybe it showed weakness when Sam stayed. But I think it was strength. Aidan will always be someone who needs to be carried; and Sam will always be the stronger party, the one strong enough to carry him.

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