Off the Page

By J.D. Allen

There was no excuse for it, really. When you looked at my life from the important perspective you're supposed to look at a life from, there was no excuse for how I felt.

My books were successful after all, hugely successful, according to the New York Times Bestseller lists I kept finding myself on, anyway. They were going to be made into movies with big names and huge budgets and already had a significantly positive buzz about them. I was living my dream, I was a novelist and I loved it, every speck of it I loved.

And my fans loved it too – yeah, I have fans with fan clubs and websites, for God's sake – judging by the mass amounts of fan mail I get. They absolutely adored my "sweeping and nail-biting" (according to Newsweek) action adventure/romances, and Dorian Quinn, the hero from my novels, has been voted favorite protagonist of the year by Book Week Magazine a record seven times over the ten years he has existed to the public. His role in the movies was said to be one of the most sought-after parts in Hollywood this year. (Rumor has it the part will go to Colin Farrell, definitely not my choice for Dorian, but what can I do? I'm just the author of the guy.)

As I said, this was my dream, to see my books published and then to have them go on to be hit movies. I had reached my goal, conquered my mountain, all of my hard work paid off. My stories were made available for the world and a good part of the world was actually reading them, which should have been enough for me to be sublimely happy.

I guess my problem was I loved it a little TOO much, or at least a certain part of it too much, which was what caused my inevitable depression/hysteria/lunacy/obsession. I found myself, while sitting atop my conquered mountain, not feeling sublime but feeling quite miserable. I felt failure, not success, I felt emptiness, not completion.

I hadn't been on a second date in six years, the last one being around when I published the second book of Dorian Quinn's odyssey of ass-kicking good guy domination. My editor blamed it on my supposed workaholic ways, telling me I had been too introverted and hermit-like since the completion of Dorian's second adventure to even attempt a second date with a guy. By the fourth book she was getting antsy and setting me up with any single guy she came across (whether he was a high school drop-out or had an abnormally long pinky nail didn't matter to her, she was desperate.) By the sixth book, she had run out of single men and so accused me of being too picky.

"Just because they're not Dorian Quinn," she told me once, "doesn't mean they're not worth your time."

And the nail was smacked on the head.

The truth was none of those men were right because they weren't Dorian Quinn, they didn't even resemble Dorian Quinn in the slightest, and it wasn't until I was writing that second adventure of Dorian's that I had screwed myself over big time.

To put it humbly, I had created the most perfect specimen of man. He embodied everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, I could ever desire in a guy. He was my Mr. Kismet, the man I had been searching and yearning for all of my 33 lonely years. He was the It, and he only existed on paper and in my head.

Which is where the whole screwing-myself-over bit comes in.

At first, it was somewhat accidental, making him my soul mate that is. In the first book, he started out like a lot of heroes start out: jaded by life, angry with the world, caustic, a ticking time-bomb … somewhat attractive to me, but not my ideal. With this attitude of his, I was safe. I appreciated him, I was attracted to him, but I didn't love him.

Then I made my big mistake: I introduced him to the spunky and quirky Cassandra Logan. From here on, Dorian Quinn went through the evolution every warm-blooded female wants the bad boy to go through: from hot-tempered asshole who refuses to get close to women to the secretly sensitive sweetheart who would willingly die for one particularly special woman. He still had his bad boy kick ass-ness, but now he had an Achilles' heel called Cassandra.

And he loved her, I mean LOVED her, loved her the way every woman wants to be loved, with passion, with no doubt, with his entire heart and body and soul and mind. There was no other woman for Dorian Quinn but Cassandra Logan. I made the boy whipped beyond whipped.

It was in the second book that I really got out of control with the whole Dorian and Cassandra romance. I ended up creating the perfect example of how I wanted to find my true love, complete with adventure, laughter, affection, attraction, tears and sensitivity. It was all there, wrapped up in a beautifully exciting package of romantic perfection. It is still the favorite of my six, and the best-selling of my books so far. Apparently, I wasn't the only one romanced by my own genius.

But it wasn't the book I loved, if I'm to be brutally honest, it was Dorian. Upon completion of that fateful second book I was madly in love with Dorian Quinn. I didn't know it at the time, I just figured I had the usual strong affection an author has for her favorite character, I didn't think it was big enough to change my life one way or another.

By the six book, I knew it was big enough, and it hadn't just changed my life, it had ruined it.

It had started as a silly little wish: if only Dorian Quinn actually existed, life would just be swell. Every woman has had this wish about somebody, whether it be a movie or book character or a person they dreamt of one night. It was an innocent wish, hardly harmful. I had been burned by some men and usually disappointed with others, so the idea of this perfect man actually existing was a really refreshing change for my jaded, suspicious and lonely self. I told myself it was just a silly fancy every human was entitled to.

But soon the wish began to turn into daydreams and fantasies. I began to wonder how my life would be different if Dorian Quinn existed, how he would treat me, how he would love me.

And I tell you people, it was awesome.

Soon the silly daydreams and fantasies began to become full-blown dazes and mind-wanderings lasting up to twenty minutes at times. Then I began to have dreams of Dorian coming to my rescue, not Cassandra's, dreams of Dorian kissing me, hugging me, proposing to me, with Cassandra no where in sight. Even my sexual fantasies began to go from me with the nameless sex god I had created in my head to myself and Dorian (And he blew all the said created sex gods out of the water in the sexual fantasies department, I must say. You can't have a name like Dorian Quinn and not be good between the sheets, now can you?)

Before I knew it, I was hopelessly gone for what was essentially a figment of my imagination. I was head over heels for a man whose flesh was paper and whose blood was ink. I had lost myself to my beautiful creation, a sort of Frankensteinian complex, if such a thing exists.

My editor was right, I was comparing all datable men to Dorian Quinn, I was being picky, what she didn't realize was how deep this pickiness was. She wasn't aware it was this pickiness that had kept me locked up in my apartment when I should have been going out, it was what had altered my appearance from relatively well kept to not giving a damn, it was what caused the manic bursts of weeping I sometimes couldn't control. It was what caused the depression I found myself in while facing the impending seventh part of the Dorian Quinn saga.

Even with all of my success, with all of my money, with my fabulous apartment I used to drool over when I was a poor college kid trying to sell her crazy idea to publishing companies, even with my fans and my acclaim, I was miserable.

I wanted Dorian Quinn more than I had wanted anything in my entire life and he was the one thing I couldn't have. The depression deepened, the hysteria rose, the obsession went beyond lunatic status. I had to do something, I knew, or else I would never be truly happy.

I needed him and somehow, somehow, I was going to get him.