Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in the action-packed movie “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” are a husband and wife who don’t know each other are assassins. The movie opens with these two sitting in front of a therapist, squirming with discomfort. We guess this is as much from the possibility of having to bare their souls—something an assassin can’t do—as from the idea of talking about a marriage that has obviously been filled with lies. Either way, it’s going to be entertaining. And, oh, yes, the therapist kicks off the session with a bang.
“How often do you have sex?” he asks.
“I don’t understand the question,” Angelina Jolie returns, dead-pan.
“Is this on a scale of 1 to 10?” Brad puts in.
“So is 1 very little,” Angelina continues, “or is 1 nothing? Because, technically speaking…zero would be nothing.”
So it seems that Brad and Angelina haven’t been having sex for a while.
We can hardly believe it.
The episode is funny, touching, and intriguing, which is exactly the tone of my reader-focused website, The Character Couch (www.charactercouch.com), where fans can suggest their favorite romance couple to be brought into a therapy session. Yes, this is therapy, but these sessions are anything but angst-ridden. They are written in the same spirit as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” drawing us in to be a fly on the wall and peek at something we normally wouldn’t be able to see.
Will there be amusing bantering in these sessions, a sense of firm, quiet resolve, poignancy? Sure. All of it. Every session is different, but always attention-grabbing.
Don’t you find that the best books always stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page, leaving you hungry for more? I know I go crazy waiting for the next novel in a series to come out, and I figured other readers felt the same. So I came up with an idea that would combine my two loves—of doing therapy and writing romance—in a way that would provide innovative, free entertainment for fans.
Today, I share about my unique endeavor.
What could we expect to see if you had “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” on The Character Couch?
LOL. Well, I think first you’d see the therapist secretly getting moon-eyed over Brad Pitt! And could we blame her?
Therapist Regan Malloy has been an exciting character to create. I’ve already morphed her to fit a multitude of romance sub-genres. She’s been a French ex-pat from a time travel romance, a bespeckled Brit from a contemporary romance, a saloon mistress in America’s old west, a wizened crone facing down a couple of vampires, and more.
Regan also brings her own struggles into the session, whether that’s fear or uncertainty, confusion about her clients, or maybe just a verbal blunder of some sort. Each month the therapist is as different as her clients.
It’s all about keeping the site dynamic and entertaining!
That does sound like a great deal of fun for readers.
Oh, definitely. I always pose questions at the end of the session, too, because fan involvement adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the experience. Readers get a chance to join the “analysis” and tell me and the participating author what they think. This month for USA Today Bestselling author Kirsten Osbourne’s historical romance, MAIL ORDER MAMA, the hero was the youngest of twelve children and the heroine was an only child in their families of origin, so the discussion has centered around how birth order can effect a relationship—and people are sharing their own experiences in the debate. I’m impressed at how thought-provoking and insightful people’s comments can be.
It’s a fantastic time.
It seems that this site also benefits authors.
Without question. The Character Couch is an innovative way for authors to market their books, and they’ve been really creative with their use of it. Many authors run contests, where fans are asked to vote on which couple from one of the author’s romance series they’d like to see go into therapy. Several lucky participants win prizes, and the book with the most votes earns a session on The Couch. This kindles fan enthusiasm even before the session is posted!
The procedure for readers is very user-friendly: people just click on the “Suggest A Book” icon in the side bar of the site and input their choice—anytime!
Readers don’t have to wait for a contest to make a suggestion!
This month’s author Kirsten Osbourne is planting the seeds of interest in her Brides of Beckham series by offering a free deal on the first book MAIL ORDER MAYHEM. I track numbers through Google Analytics, and the response to authors is always really good.
You write the sessions, though, don’t you?
I do. It’s a process that requires a great deal of attention to detail on my part in order to represent absolutely correctly another author’s characters. No pressure, right? Not one word goes onto the site without an author’s full approval (there’s a “FAQ for Authors” section on the site).
And so far, so good! The testimonials page glows with the praise from alumni authors.
This has been one of the most satisfying parts of this endeavor for me; it means I’ve succeeded in honoring their stories, and that feels terrific.
How does a session typically end?
Oh, there isn’t a “typical” with these sessions, except that the happily ever after is always assured. Every month it’s a new journey, and you never know at what point you might laugh or get a clench of emotion in your chest. Or where a surprise might pop out at you.
Like the ending of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”
During the course of the movie, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have discovered that each other are assassins. With the truth out, there’s hope for their marriage now. They end up in front of the therapist again, recapping, still spouting off to each other, but in a way that makes us chuckle; we know they’re going to be okay. The therapist seems to agree, talking about how marriage takes work, but—
Brad interrupts to say, “Ask us the ‘how many times did you have sex this week?’ question again.”
“John,” Angelina Jolie scolds quietly, while Brad Pitt proudly flashes ten fingers outside of Angelina’s sight lines.
Oh, yes, expect fun surprises!
**DON’T MISS THE NEXT SESSION. Sign up to be notified! http://www.charactercouch.com/subscribe.html
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Tracy Tappan is the award-winning author of gritty romance, her books spanning genres across paranormal (The Community series), military suspense (The Wings of Gold series), and Historical (The Baron’s War trilogy). During nearly twenty-five years spent as a military wife, she lived all over the United States and in Europe, enjoying seven years overseas in the diplomatic community, first in Rome then in Madrid, until she settled back in San Diego. Tracy holds a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, and has used this background to create a fan-based website called The Character Couch, where romance’s favorite couples are brought into a fun session with therapist, Regan Malloy. Her debut paranormal novel, THE BLOODLINE WAR, is a Bronze Medal winner for romance of the prestigious Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY). Available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/18XDygs As well as the second in the series, THE PUREST OF THE BREED, http://amzn.to/UXOGX7
To learn more, please visit her website at www.tracytappan.com
Tracy loves to keep in touch with readers. You can follow her on Twitter at @TracyTappan, Facebook at Tracy Tappan Romance Author (http://on.fb.me/1hs0Z3L) or write to her at Tracy@TracyTappan.com.