I’m thrilled to be doing my first guest post here on The Write Stuff. Thank you, Marcia, for rolling out the red carpet!!
The second most common question we writers tend to hear is how do we come up with our characters. (The first one being where do we get our story ideas.)
Like the story ideas, our characters come from several different sources. Some are loosely based on people we know. Some are loosely based on ourselves (the protagonist of my Kate Huntington stories is definitely my alter ego; the person I wish I was).
And sometimes a character who was only supposed to have a bit part gets their teeth around that bit and takes off running. One such character is the tough female cop who’s assigned as police protection when someone is trying to kill Kate in Book 1 of that series. This cop wasn’t even supposed to talk much except in the scene where she is first introduced.
Officer Rose Hernandez is short but solidly built (Kate refers to her as “compact”) and she can arch an eyebrow at a forty-five degree angle in the most expressive way. By the end of Book 1, she has rebelled against her incompetent superior – and me – and has gone rogue, helping Kate and her friends find the killer on their own. And by Book 3 she’s a central character in the series.
Still other characters are total figments of our imaginations, perhaps a conglomeration of some interesting-sounding personality traits–someone whom we wish we knew. I have a few of those scattered throughout my books. I’m fond of feisty women, but I don’t meet enough of them in real life. (Note: feisty is tough but with a big mouth and a sense of humor – maybe it’s just as well that there aren’t too many of them *cough* us *cough* running around in real life 😉 )
The main character in my new series is such a woman, although she would probably refer to herself as snarky rather than feisty. She’s a thirty-something divorcee who trains service dogs for combat veterans with PTSD.
I had so much fun writing the first book in this new series. Bringing this character to life was a blast. And now that I’ve breathed life into her, I wonder where she will take me. Because I am quite sure she does not plan to do as she’s told!
But now that I have two series going, I’m having a very interesting experience with my characters. While I’ve been focused on my new heroine, Marcia Banks, Kate and her friends have been whispering in my ear, “What about us?” One of them (most often Kate) will nudge me at some odd moment, with a cool idea for some plot twist in the next, as yet unwritten, Kate Huntington mystery.
So this will be my life for the foreseeable future, caught between two worlds…oh wait, it’s three worlds – Kate’s world and Marcia’s world and my real-life world (which I do try to visit now and again).
When I’m writing Kate’s stories, Marcia will be making snarky remarks about my neglect of her, and when I’m telling Marcia’s tales of mishap and mayhem, Kate will be nudging my elbow and Rose will be arching her eyebrow at me.
And then there is the role that our readers play in our characters’ lives. For without readers, our characters’ life force would fade away. Every time a reader picks up one of our books, they breathe new energy into the people who live inside that book.
And if we’ve done our jobs well, the characters will live on in the reader’s mind for a while after the last page of the book is turned. And the reader will be wondering what Kate or Marcia is up to now…
Authors, how do you experience your characters? Do they haunt you if you’re too slow about writing the next chapter in their stories?
As readers, what characters have lived on in your minds for days after finishing a book?
I’m so excited about this new series that I’m inviting everybody to a Facebook party to celebrate! Please click HERE to say you’re coming and put the date on your calendar, Tuesday, April 12, 2-8 pm, EDT.
Here’s the blurb and links for the new book:
To Kill A Labrador, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery
Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha) likes to think of herself as a normal person, even though she has a rather abnormal vocation. She trains service dogs for combat veterans with PTSD. And when the ex-Marine owner of her first trainee is accused of murdering his wife, she gets sucked into an even more abnormal avocation–amateur sleuth.
Called in to dog-sit the Labrador service dog, Buddy, she’s outraged that his veteran owner is being presumed guilty until proven innocent. With Buddy’s help, she tries to uncover the real killer. Even after the hunky local sheriff politely tells her to butt out, Marcia keeps poking around. Until the killer finally pokes back.
Just $1.99 during the Pre-Order period. Available on: