Baby You Can Drive My (Novel’s) Car

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Robert Matthew Goldstein is my “partner in crime” illustrating the #DieselPunk serial that you’ll find on my Jazz Age Wednesdays posts — “Hullaba Lulu.”  Sometimes Rob also makes videos that parallel the Lulu-verse.  He just did a fabulous one featuring (fictionalized) Nikola Tesla and the electric car that I wrote into the serial.  That gave me the idea for today’s post. 

So, I scrapped the post I was set to run… It would have gotten me into sooo much trouble anyway — but I’ll probably use it eventually.  (Winks.)  Instead, I’m going to talk about using cars as vehicles (sorry, you know I can’t resist a play on words) to develop characters or stories.

My Writing Process — or Baby You Can Drive My Car

Chips 1971 Rally Nova
Chip’s 1971 Rally Nova in “Atonement, Tennessee”

They say that a person’s car reflects their personality.  Maybe it’s true.  Even though my imagination flies along the tracks until it goes completely off the rails, I’m generally a very practical person. I have to be.  That’s probably reflected in the fact that I’ve almost always driven a Toyota Camry.  When I wrote Atonement, Tennessee, I wanted the heroine to be an “every woman.”  To bring out that part of her character, I gave her a Camry.   

To quickly establish a very minor Atonement character (Chip the delivery boy), I decided to give him a yellow, 1971 Chevrolet Rally Nova, shown above.  Do you already have an image of Chip in your mind?

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Bethany Purple
Bethany’s purple VW Beetle in the Atonement stories

Another character in that series had a status conscious husband, so she got a big fully-loaded SUV.  My Bethany character is a Goth, an accountant — a bundle of contradictions.  I thought it would be a nice quirk to give her a purple VW Beetle.  Their vehicles helped firm-up their characters.

I guess I’m just a car girl…

Tam’s Cadillac in The Guitar Mancer (purchased at Dreamstime)

I went all out with the car-thing when I wrote the still unfinished Guitar Mancer.  Some of you will remember when I tried (and failed miserably) to finish that novel by serializing it.  The cars were almost characters.  It was set in the 1970s.  An extremely tall shaman drove a customized Vista Cruiser station-wagon, and a magical character had a vintage 1950s Cadillac.

Granny Phanny Model-T 1914 Speedster
Granny Phanny’s 1914 Model-T Speedster in The Three Things Serial Story

When I did my very first blog serial, I used to tell readers they were driving the story by sending “three things” and invite them to “get in the car!” That was my original Roaring Twenties stories, The Three Things Serial Story, and Murder at the Bijou (and coming later this year, A Ghost in the Kitchen).  I used automobiles to help set the era in your minds.

  Granny Phanny has the above cherished Model-T.  Andy, Pip’s friend and would-be screenplay writer, drives a backfiring Studebaker.  The copper, Dabney Daniels and G-Man, Moses Myrick both drive Fords.

Studebaker blue 1920s
Studebaker, circa 1920

Now, my question to you is — did it work?  When I mentioned nothing more than the vehicle the character drives, did you have some sense of that person?  Or for a little fun, is there a famous person (real life or fiction) whose car exemplifies their personality? Let me know in a comment. 

I’ll close with one of my favorites — Janice Joplin’s Porsche.

Janice Joplin Porche

Honk (or comment) if you love cars!

My apologies if this video doesn’t work… but I had to try.



Here’s my shameless self-promotion…

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise. 

81 thoughts on “Baby You Can Drive My (Novel’s) Car

    1. Hi Teri. Thanks for sharing the fun about the cars. I just saw a bright yellow Beetle go by. Adorable. I couldn’t find a pic of a purple one, so I PhotoShopped that one… Not the shade I had in mind, but the best my limited skills could produce. TGIF hugs!


  1. A car is a fantastic detail that speaks volumes about the character. Or even about real people. I have Nissan micra, for example. Thank you for the lovely post. Hope your week has a good start.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved reading Teagan, when I think of all the cars I have owned and that have bit the dust that now must have been recycled into soup cans.. lol.. So long as it got me from A to B I didn’t worry too much about its appearance… What is under the Bonnet is what counts.. LOL… And you my friend have a great heart/engine..

    Love and Hugs my dear friend… Lovely car shares and brilliant images from Robert.. Only a quick catch up today sorry.. I have been on here now 6 hours going through email catch ups.. So turning off and tuning out as I turn off the ignition…
    Have a fantastic week Teagan.. LOVE and Blessings and Oh I got some PJs with Cats on… LOVE thought of you when I got them 😉 Big hugs… and much love my friend.. OH and its raining… Yipppeeeee.. we have water..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely think cars can reflect the owner’s personality. I drive a Honda CR-V – conservative, but it’s red, so that also shows the other side of me. 🙂 The red Cadillac above reminds me of a car Rick had in the 60’s. He had the Cadillac Biarritz convertible. And, YES, it reflected his personality at the time. Cool post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jan! It’s fun to know about your cars. I love that Rick had a Caddy. I bought that image at Dreamstime and used it as part of a composite image that I created for that novel. (I usually do covers before I finish the book, because it inspires me.) That’s one of my favorite covers — and yet I still haven’t finished the novel… There is just not enough time, with work and coping with situations there…
      Thanks for taking time to visit here. Hugs and… Beep-beep, beep-beep yeah!


  4. Thanks for revealing more of your process and for showcasing ‘Tesla Starts His Car’ – I’ve just finished binging on Diana Rigg as Mrs. Baker: a flapper detective who tours the English countryside in a Rolls Royce. The rolls defines Mrs. Baker as surely as her uber stylish costumes – We’re talking “Coco” Chanel. Expect a makeover for Lulu. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Teagan, cars definitely work for your characters! Janis Joplin was a jolt to my memory! I knew one of her guitar players in Big Brother & Holding Co band. Her car got a psychedelic facelift by one of her roadies, Dave Roberts, and titled, “The History of the Universe.” It’s on loan to the R&R Hall of Fame since 1995. I have included cars in my writing too. My famous grandfather’s photo & write up was in the Boston Herald (1926), Symphony Player Buys REO! I imagine so true about his flamboyant character! Member of the Boston Symphony, a former famous trumpeter of the German army, is an ardent motorist who appreciates thoroughbred performance, as well as style in a motorcar! (REO sedan). So, I drive a Ford Focus titanium hatchback. Practical, safe, and sporty (with great speed). Hmmm…🤔 Have a great weekend! Hugs! 📚 Christine

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m a big-time car fan and have used them in my books to cement my character’s personalities, also. I’ve always been drawn to muscle cars, not sure what that says about me, lol.
    Great post, Teagan. That title is an attention grabber!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jacquie. Maybe its a coming of age era type thing. Most people my age were shaped by the 80s (music, TV, etc), but the impact of pop culture came to me younger. I’m forever a product of the 70s — so yes, I love muscle cars (but antiques too). I’m happy you enjoyed your visit. Beep-beep, beep-beep yeah! Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I love cars some more than others but yeah I love them. I enjoy your use of cars. It really helps shape the characters and makes them more real. I LOVE Granny Phanny’s Model T!

    Other characters that had a car that fit the character really well that sticks with me is Jim Rockford’s Firebird. I liked his car, and of course The General from the Dukes of Hazard. Loved that car! Was that a Charger? I’ve always wanted a sporty car, but I too am more practical and have had more sensible cars. I’m driving a Subaru Forester now I call her Pearl. I still have my Corolla sport which I call Va-Va short for Varoooom! 😜

    I watched Rob’s latest video with Tesla starting his car the other day. It’s great! You two are a great team. I’m enjoying the Lulu story very much!

    Hope you’re having a lovely Saturday! xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tee-hee! I love “Va-Va!” Thanks so much for this delightful comment, Deborah.
      Yes, that was a Dodge Charger, and Daisy drove a Plymouth Roadrunner! I haven’t thought about that in ages. That show was still popular when I took what I think of as my “only real” vacation. (Trips with psycho-ex didn’t count.) Every time I opened my moth the locals would say “Dukes of Hazard! Dukes of Hazard!” LOL.
      I agree about Rockford’s Firebird.
      You’ve just made me realize where my car thing comes from — all those cop and detective shows of the 70s — the cars were often a big deal. Even in Charlies’ Angels.
      I so enjoyed your visit, my friend. Beep-beep, beep-beep yeah!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I definitely got a sense of your characters by what they drive, Teagan. This post was a great way to show this side of them. I enjoyed the visuals. 🙌 (Hmm. I drove a red Dodge Ram truck for many years, but I bet that is no surprise.) 🤔Have a lovely weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mary, I remember us talking about your red truck — old and newer — even the red truck wine! 😀 What a fun way to express yourself.
      Vehicles and/or animals find their way into my stories whether I mean for them to or not.
      I’m happy you enjoyed this post and hope you’re having a lovely weekend. Beep-beep beep-beep- Yeah! Hugs

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Cars aren’t something I pay much attention to in real life, but I always notice your cars Teagan – they are almost characters in their own right and you do have a great way of building details like these that add to your characters personalities – though you do it effortlessly so we don’t really notice!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Andrea. You are so kind — thank you. If I’ve made something seem effortless I must have done it right.
      I know what you mean, at least about modern cars — they mostly look alike to me. Particularly where everything is either gray or black. White seems like a wildly colored car. Thanks for taking a moment to visit. Hugs to you and Winston.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Good morning, John. It’s wonderful to see you. Ah! I remembered you were connected to Detroit somehow, but not that you were a native. I guess I’m just a car girl. I’ve always loved them. Although the modern ones don’t do the same thing for me. I’m happy that you enjoyed this post.
      What was your favorite (whether or not you owned one) old Detroit car?

      Wishing you well with the upcoming knee surgery. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh boy Teagan. You’ve stirred up my car lust with all these wonderful car characters. They would be the star of my show. 🙂 I love the last one, a psychedelic Porshe! What character would you assign to my first car, a 1960 white Chrysler Imperial? We called him the White Whale. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Brad. OMG… you have no idea how easy it is to send me off on a story or character tangent. What a marvelous fun question. A 1960 white Chrysler Imperial named the White Whale… Hmmm… Oh I’ve got it… A former (now disillusioned) Greenpeace volunteer, accidentally thrust into the role of private detective. He might have an overly enthusiastic partner who at a running jump (as main character-car driver cringes and yells) plops down & slides across the hood of White Whale ala Starsky & Hutch. 😉
      Thanks for this delightful visit. Beep-beep beep-beep- Yeah! Hugs

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Such a great collaboration between you and Rob. You inspire each other in your creative talents. As far as the cars – YES – it works and I think it’s important that we writers add details about a character that help readers “see” who a character is, inside and out. The kind of car they drive makes a big difference.
    Ahhh, Paul. He can drive my car any day. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Pam. I’m happy that you agree — and that you enjoy Hullaba Lulu.
      Oh that video with Paul… It was the most wonderful thing I’ve seen — to imagine riding around in a car, singing along to Beetles songs with Paul McCartney! What a delight. Have a great weekend. Beep-beep beep-beep-Yeah!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. The cars absolutely work, Teagan! I first remember noticing the cars in your story when (my memory is failing) the girl in “Guitar Mancer” is driving her father’s car to the interview and then again when it’s destroyed. The cars in that story (you know, the one you should finish…just sayin) seem so important.

    Then again, the best thing about your stories is how almost everything is necessary. A writer friend of mind once gave me the best advice I ever got about writing, albeit, business writing. He said to “remove every word you can without changing the message.” You do that in the most inspiring way. You don’t just add words and scenes to build out the story, you weave a thousand useful and necessary threads into your stories. I enjoy reading things by writers who build their stories in this manner, and I’ve enjoyed everything you’ve ever written.

    I tend to go on about these things. Sorry for turning this comment into a mini blog post. I hope you have a great weekend.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Dan you’ve made my weekend. Thank you. You can drive my car or leave a mini blog post any time you want. 😀 (Although I didn’t feel that was an excessively long comment — particularly since it was all about this post and not a tangent.)
      Now if I can stop blushing long enough… ^^’
      I agree with your friend, particularly in business/technical writing, less is certainly more. No one cares about anyone’s “prose” in a business document. Minimalism and to the point is best. Plus the mandate (from a previous president) for plain writing in government (meaning a 6th grade level) I feel is good advice for any business.

      (Talk about a mini blog post… I’m off and running!)
      Yes, I apply that to novel editing/writing too, but to a somewhat lesser extent. Sometimes we need to include something to develop a character, or set an important scene/place.
      Otherwise I try to follow advice I read long ago. “If it does not further the story, then remove it.”
      That can be downright painful sometimes. Plus it can be hard to be objective about it.
      I struggled hard with a page in “Atonement in Bloom” in that regard. (I don’t think it was in the ARC version you read.) Out then In… Out then In… I even remembered to ask my self that question and still… The second time I asked that question, I knew I had to delete that scene. It did nothing to advance the storyline or enhance anything.

      You’ve amazed me with retaining what you read. I’m flattered and stunned — that was at least a couple of years ago and you still remember the Guitar Mancer. Holy Hannah!
      The original draft from the late 1990s was different, but the core of the story stuck with me, and still does. When I re-began it I wanted to better bring out the “road trip” aspect of the story. So I intentionally made the cars an important aspect of the story. In that particular book, the cars are more to me than a device for character development. They’re part of the setting.
      Thanks so much for spending part of your Saturday morning here. Happy weekend hugs.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I didn’t find anything in Atonement in Bloom that seemed superfluous. There were so many time I remember thinking “I know this about…” and then realised that you had prepared me for that.

        I sometimes remove whole sections of my blog posts because it’s another story and it’s getting too long, but it is painful.

        I hope your weekend is gong well.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. They definitely work, although perhaps much more for car people (and I guess we all have sometimes dreamed of having a particular car but have ended up with something completely different) but that’s the beauty of books. We can give our characters any props we like! I love your suggestion for the next Lulu serial (what a car!) and love Rob’s video. Steampunk magic!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Olga. Thanks so much. Rob will be delighted. He mentioned that he thinks that video is his best, and I can agree that it’s fabulous. (Although I’d have a hard time choosing a favorite.)
      Yes, it’s true. Cars aren’t an interest for everyone, and most of us can’t necessarily afford to express ourselves through them. If time and money were not obstacles, I might have some fully-restored vintage auto. Although my Camry does reflect the necessity to be practical — so that’s what I gave “Ralda” to drive.

      Yes! That’s Janice Joplin’s Porsche. When I thought about a “magical” car (the way Valentino’s train is magical), that came immediately to mind.
      I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome, Rebecca! I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I think associating daily-life things (like cars) that reflect the combination of what a person/character likes and *can* have is a great, subtle way to help develop the character. After all, not everyone would choose a purple VW. Not everyone *could* choose a “muscle car.” (Chip would need time for ongoing repairs, and have the personality to enjoy roaring around town in it, putting up with the lack of power steering and poor gas mileage.) The things we know and assume about the vehicle embed ideas in the reader’s mind, without taking time for active thought.
      Thanks so much for visiting. Happy weekend hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It was an interesting idea. I chose a car for two of my characters based on their personalities because they needed cars for work, but I think I’ll try it for more based on this post. It’s a refreshing change from choosing their Myers Briggs personality types and like you say, the subtlety convey a certain image to the reader. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  14. For my fortieth I hankered after the stupid car, in my case an MG. my wife bought me the toy and made a car cake. I learnt my lesson. Cars do do status v well don’t they? Lovely pics, esp the last

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They certainly are status symbols around DC… Simply being new or good isn’t enough… Mercedes, BMW, Audi… Lexus barely makes the cut. (Eye roll)
      Although I can’t blame you about the MG. Throughout my teens I wanted one desperately. I imagined myself in an old MG, tooling around the countryside, art easel hanging out the back, looking for scenes to paint. LOL, naturally none of that ever happened.
      The last pic is supposed to be Janice Joplin’e Porsche. Thanks for visiting, Geoff. Happy weekend hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

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