At the virtual launch party for Blackhorse Road held on July 21, one of the beta readers elaborated on the maturity and perceptiveness of eighteen-year-old Luci, the story's protagonist. We didn't have the time during the launch to discuss what informed me about Luci's character, so I'd like to share the insights that led me to develop a character who had this type of awareness at such a young age.
A few years ago, my husband and I were visiting with friends who had two teenaged children—a daughter, eighteen-years-old, and a son, sixteen-years-old. The six of us chatted before, during, and after dinner, engaging in conversation about politics, world events, and everyday issues. The teenagers were not ancillary to the conversation but were part of it. I put on my "coaching" hat and listened carefully to what these young people had to say and engaged them, from time to time, with powerful questions—What are you concerned about? What's most important to you? If you had the choice, what would you do? What is your assessment of this situation? How would you handle that problem?
When we left for the evening, I turned to my husband and said, "I'm so relieved because those two young people are our future—I'm so impressed with their level of insight, judgment, and perspective."
In our busy, distracted world, I don't know that older adults or parents have given themselves the gift of space to listen to, be curious about, or seek out the wisdom of their young adult children or their children's friends. Remembering the remarkable experience I had with the teenagers of our friends, I wanted Blackhorse Road to reveal to my readers the possibilities of this dimension.
The following quote is taken from Chapter Five in Blackhorse Road and gives an insight into how Luci's maturity was developed through the relationship with her father, Sam.
"Sam knew the best way to get Luci to reveal her thoughts was to pose a question requiring an opinion. He recognized Luci's growing emotional maturity and was proud of his daughter's self-confidence and her commitment to a more tolerant world. He also welcomed her ideas and encouraged her to debate with him, believing it honed her judgment and decision-making. Often, Sam would ask Luci her thoughts about a political matter or seek her advice in sizing up a business problem. Allowing her to express herself in a secure environment, Sam believed, helped his daughter build self-esteem."
Added to Sam's practice of listening, observing, and asking questions, his insight about how people react when given a choice contributed to Luci's maturity. Here's a quote from the book where Sam shares his thoughts about autonomy with Luci.
"Given the relevant facts and the chance to think things through, most people are smart, creative, and resourceful enough to make the right decisions."