Elena Tanner is one of three main characters whose story is shared in the polyamorous romance, We Three, and its forthcoming sequel We Fit. Those familiar with the first novel might remember Elena is in her mid-30s, bisexual, Latina, married to Eric Tanner, and caught feelings hard while swinging with Jess Davies, the Caliente’s bartender.
She was so determined to have it all and convince Jess to stay in Miami, Elena asked Jess to move in with her and Eric during a night out dining in a decadent and sex-forward 1920s style supper club.
The proposal – for that was how Jess perceived it – led to the younger woman going radio silent. It was the holiday season AND Jess was working hard on a lot of freelance bartending gigs to make money. At least that’s what Elena told herself when she didn’t hear from Jess and the woman didn’t answer her texts or voicemails. But now the holidays are over, and Elena still hasn’t heard from her.
Inspiration and Characterization
Elena Tanner was inspired by the character of Trina Decker, the character Lana Parrilla (Regina Mills, OUAT) played on Swingtown, a 13-episode series that aired in 2006. There was a lot of “flirt” in Trina’s character, but I wondered what she would be like if she really got emotionally involved in an same-sex relationship. That’s where We Three started. By the end of We Three, Elena is so beyond Trina, the resemblance is basically physical only. I gave Elena a complicated family history different from Trina’s. I gave her relationship with Eric a different start, and I firmly set her entire sexual intimacy history in the bisexual part of the LGBTQ spectrum.
We Fit: Elena’s Plot
We Fit begins at the moment Elena is determined to find out what happened to Jess, and learn if they can pick up where they left off. So she goes to the club and seeks Jess out when she shouldn’t be working.
Elena is an extrovert and a go-getter. This leads her to want to do or fix when she finds something is missing or not working the way she thinks it should or that she wants. The main plot of We Fit definitely sees Elena actively trying to fix and do, to assuage Jess’s fears and get back a relationship she herself really, really loved. Her challenge is to listen, really listen, to her partners and give support as they ask for it, instead of giving what she thinks they need. In a way, Elena’s growth goal is learning to give up directing everything and sometimes just let things flow naturally. Things do not always go as she hoped, but she is determined to keep trying.
For this part of the story, I dug into some of the ways I’d seen people sabotage their own relationships, and how I’d unwittingly sabotaged some of my own. (And, ouch, did that sometimes hurt!) I explored love languages, and relationship communication skills by visiting websites and listening to podcasts and talking with people practicing ethical non-monogamy.
The subplot for Elena is also pressing her about her go-getter trait. She wants to finally start her own adult travel business, creating group tours and organizing trips to sex-positive resorts all over the world. But she has to get a package deal together to offer to sex-interested travelers, and that means cold-calling and lining up businesses as advertisers and product suppliers for these package tours. Her challenge here is being a saleswoman. She’s been in the service industry, but more in the way of keeping customers happy, not skilled in developing new business relationships.
For this part of the story, I dug into advice to entrepreneurs about lead generation and marketing that I could find on the internet. I have some knowledge since my journalism degree covered some principles of advertising along with lead generation for story sources. But it was 30 years out of date in terms of the technical sources where some of this can be done. I mean taglines are still a thing, but Twitter, for example, encourages major brevity with only 250 characters to work with. (I was starting my own business in earnest too, so I gave Elena some of my problems, in hopes that research for her might solve mine too.) My graduate certificate in writing, completed in June 2022 had a LOT of information showing modern practices for advertising, social media, and the marketing principles that tie them together. (That I could use some of these ideas to also market my published book(s) was a plus.)
In some ways, I found it useful to parallel Elena’s struggles trying to become a success at business, with Jess’s struggles, which I’ll discuss in next week’s post. Subscribe to be sure and get the alert when I post.
PS – If this kind of character depth interests you in an erotic romance read, I am still looking for readers willing to post reviews about We Fit during the launch period in November. If you are interested, please email me and ask for an ARC.