Introducing Team Orange: Jennifer Gracen

Author Name:   Jennifer Gracen

Title of Short Story: “Killing The Fantasy”

In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about:  Two forty-somethings meet through Twitter. First they’re friends, then more… or, it could be, if Wyatt would just let Catherine see him.

How did you come up with the concept for the story?  I’ve spent a lot of time online, and I’m a romance writer. The idea had been brewing for some time, and then the OKA came about… bingo. It’s kind of a love letter to Twitter.

What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology?  Karen DeLabar is my best friend. Nuff said.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio:   I had such a hard time deciding whether to be a singer or a writer, that I only applied to 2 colleges (Berklee College of Music and Emerson College), figuring I’d let fate decide. All I knew was I wanted to go to Boston. The music college accepted me first, so I went there. And wrote every day in my dorm room.

What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why? Karen’s hair. Because it makes people smile. It’s inspired many conversations. It’s legendary. It’s fabulous!

Our dear friend, Karen DeLabar: She should be in a hair commercial.

Our dear friend, Karen DeLabar: She should be in a hair commercial.

If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? Haha, how would I use Karen’s hair to save the world?? (She will shake her head and laugh when she sees this.) Um… she had to cut her hair a few months ago, cut it really short. I guess I’d have taken the snippets, mixed them with magic pixie dust, and scattered them over the world to bring happiness, peace, and laughter.

Who inspires you? Why?  Other writers, because they are my brethren, and they make me want to be a better writer. My children, because they are the most important thing in my life, and they make me want to be a better person.

Story Excerpt:

The more their online friendship intensified, the more Catherine’s curiosity about what Wyatt looked like increased. She had pictures of herself on her Twitter account. But he didn’t, and he wasn’t on Facebook, Flickr, or Google Plus. It almost seemed as if, in a way, he didn’t exist. A huge part of his reticence was fed by his concern that his employees and clients should not see him in an unprofessional light. Catherine knew this, and understood. Yet between liking him as a friend and being attracted to his incendiary sexy talk, the need to know what he looked like burned to the point of distraction.

She tried to cajole him into sending her a picture, teased him mercilessly, asked to the point of almost pleading. He wouldn’t budge.

You don’t need to see what I look like, he would tell her.

It’s not about need, she would type back. It’s about want. I’m just curious. Curiosity is natural in this situation. We’ve talked almost every day for months now.

Curiosity killed the cat, he wrote. But before she could respond, he added, Oh God… your name is Cat. I didn’t mean that how it must have sounded! I was KIDDING. I’m an idiot!

Catherine let out a chuckle as she typed, I know you didn’t. It’s an old saying. No worries. You don’t scare me, sweets.

Well you scare me, lady, he wrote. Smart as a whip, strong single mom, & drop dead gorgeous. Talking to you is gonna get me in trouble. He immediately followed up with his own creative hashtags: #thebestkindoftrouble#viletemptress

By May — admitting to herself, but not to him, that she was quite smitten — they began talking on the phone, late into the night. Hearing his voice added a thrilling new dimension to their relationship. Still, she persisted with her one nagging desire.

One night, Wyatt sighed and said, “Fine, okay… I have light brown hair that’s going gray around the ears, light green eyes that are probably my only attractive feature, I wear glasses, and I’m six feet tall. Not fat, not thin. Not anything remarkable. Completely and boringly average.”

“What’s wrong with average? Hey, I don’t care if you don’t look like George Clooney.”

“Clooney? Ha! Catherine, I don’t even look like his gardener’s sickly cousin.”

She dissolved into laughter.

“Come ooooon,” she wheedled again the next week. “Please?”

“Maybe I’m horribly ugly. Have you thought of that? Like, pathetically so.”

“I don’t care,” she said in a firm tone. “Have you thought of that?”

“You say that now.”

“I say it because it’s the truth.” She sighed. “Wyatt. Do you think I’m that shallow, that I really care what you look like? That it would alter how I feel about you?”

“No,” he stammered. “Of course not. I don’t think you’re shallow at all. But I just don’t… I don’t understand why this is so important. Why do you need to see my picture?”

“I just want to put a face to the words onscreen, to the voice on the phone.” She grunted with exasperation. “I just want… a connection. Why don’t you get that?”

“I do get that,” he conceded quietly. “But I just… maybe I don’t want to… kill the fantasy.”

About Jennifer Gracen:

jgraJennifer Gracen wears several hats: contemporary romance writer, copy editor, social media addict, friend, wife, and (most important hat) mother of two young boys. If it wasn’t for the advent of Twitter, Jennifer would have never met her Favorite Redhead, Karen DeLabar, for which she will be forever grateful.

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