GUEST POST: Rebecca Berto – Drowning in You

Secretly crushing

Crushed by a tragedy


Charlee May’s been crushing on Dexter Hollingworth since she was fifteen. Five years later, a horrific skiing disaster at Mason’s Ski Lift Resort leaves her millionaire dad critically injured and her mom dead at the hands of Dexter operating the lifts. Charlee is suddenly the sole caretaker for her little brother while their world falls apart. 


Dexter couldn’t be more different from Charlee. He’s tattooed, avoids exclusive relationships and his Dad has a fair share of illegal dealings. With Dexter’s reputation, almost everyone believes he planned the Mason’s skiing disaster.


And after all these years he’s still crushing on Charlee May, the girl who’s too good for him.


When this cruel twist of fate ties Charlee’s family and Dexter’s reputation together, Charlee and Dexter wonder if their feelings are reciprocated, while Dexter discovers his dad is trying to steal the May’s millionaire fortune. 


But like an addiction, one look, one touch, one taste—they’re hooked no matter the consequences.

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On writing my fictional characters
Writing a character is like making a new friend. At first you realize they have some good qualities, perks and habits. They seem nice or quirky or weird. And then you get closer and realize what is behind those characteristics that make them up. But it’s only once you become “true” friends, when you adore them, that they become a part of your life so deeply that you can probably guess how they’d react to something.
Fictional characters are exactly that. When I started writing Charlee and Dexter, they had specific qualities that made them them. When I came back to revise the story during the second draft I learnt their deep traits, about their gestures and dialogue patterns that individualized them into fuller, realer characters.
Charlee May
She’s a sweet girl. She’s the type that’s selfless, but her downfall is that she isn’t comfortable voicing her own opinions. Part of her from me is that she’s a swimmer. She used to compete at a state-level and now is a swim teacher. Swimming is how she gets away.
She had a crush on Dexter since 15 at high school, but she was the girl on the edge of the football and soccer ovals, gawking at the hot boys, not the popular, I-get-the-boys type.
Dexter Hollingworth
Dexter’s made what he could out of shit luck. He grew up without a dad for years since his one was in jail. He had to make and lose friends for years as a child moving across the world for his family. Thus, he’s guarded. He plays the guitar and writes songs, and has a sleeve of tattoos to instead express himself and the pain he’s been through. He doesn’t do serious girlfriends since he’s grown to rely on himself only.
He’s been crushing on Charlee, the tall, blonde-haired beautiful girl a year younger than him, since 16. The girl who’s dad’s a millionaire. The girl who’s perfect in every way. The girl he’s hardly spoken to and probably will never get the chance to.
The Couple
Charlee and Dexter, together, are like cake. They’re delicious and dangerously addictive. When split apart, though, they begin to crumble.
These characters became close to my heart for a few reasons:
  • They were broken for different reasons and proved two wrongs can make a right—a whole—by healing and learning through each other.
  • As I revised and edited, I analysed why they would act the way they did, and put myself in their shoes. They turned into 3D characters by me acting out a scene in my head as them: thinking through what a real person would do in their shoes.
  • Unlike real people, characters have to be empathized with. They don’t have to be liked, but as readers, you do have to understand them. Charlee and Dexter, for me, turned from a list of descriptions and traits on paper to friends by how they reacted to conflict. That—that is what made them loveable to me.
I hope you enjoyed getting inside my head! This post was a lot of fun to write. If you want to get to know Charlee and Dexter better, why not read their stories in Drowning in You?

Rebecca Berto is the author or the dark contemporary/literary novella, PRECISE and the upcoming new adult contemporary romance novel, DROWNING IN YOU. She is also a freelance editor.

She writes stories that are a bit sexy, and straddle the line between Literary and Tear Your Heart Out. She gets a thrill when her readers  are emotional reading her stories, and gets even more of a kick when they tell her so. She’s strangely imaginative, spends too much time on her computer, and is certifiably crazy when she works on her fiction.

Rebecca Berto lives in Melbourne, Australia with her boyfriend and their doggy. 

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