I'm most recently a writer. In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot. As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades. An unwilling transplant from the South, twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US. Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect. When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do. Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!
Saturday, March 2, 2013
What a Character!
At the moment, I'm not writing, or more accurately, I'm not writing about the subjects I've been so singlemindedly involved with for the past two years. (I am working my way into another story related to the series, but that's all I'll say for now.) Turns out, I miss my characters! I suppose I've lived in their lives for so long, they're like friends I need to check in with occasionally. They've become part of my family's dinner table conversations, examples of certain situations or behaviors, and I'm pretty sure they're not going to just fade away because I've left them at a particular crossroads, for the time being at least.
I want to tell you about one extremely special character--the one I never saw coming, Stani Moss. As you know, if you've tuned in here before, the basic premise for Hearts Unfold, the first novel in the series, was one I developed over forty years ago in a short story which ended up in a file folder somewhere. The protagonist of that story was a wealthy, powerful celebrity who happened to end up in the wrong place at the right time. Looking back, he wasn't all that appealing, and certainly not as sympathetic as Stani turned out to be. But here's the thing--I had no idea Stani would turn out the way he has. For such a sweet guy, he's as stubborn as that old white mule who also proved to be something of a shocker. (Sorry, you'll just have to read the books to find out about that one!)
In the beginning, when I was done with my little heroine, Emily, in Chapter One, I met Stani--just the way you would if you got to Chapter Two of Hearts Unfold--as he was crawling into the back of a limo, hung over and suffering mightily from a recent tongue lashing. I could see him clearly as far as his physical appearance, the red hair, the brown eyes, and I could sense he was a pretty tortured young soul. But what I had in mind for him beyond the first few chapters was apparently not what he signed on for. We spent several weeks in negotiation over his personality and character, and I admit, I lost. I saw him as jaded, cynical and frankly a bit of a bounder. I wanted him to fight the inevitable, resist the good that was his for the taking. Stani seemed to see things very differently. There was a moment, a very real-life moment, when he stood in front of me, on the computer screen anyway, and said in his warm British voice, "My name is Stani Moss, this is what I do and this is how I do it." I'm sure there was a gentle smile lurking behind his intense dark eyes as he said that, but honestly I was too frustrated to notice.
A good hundred pages of back and forth even I could see was going nowhere fast were gone with a touch of the delete key, and we went back to try again. This time, I let go of my manipulative ideas, watched, listened and became increasingly fascinated by this new Stani. Now he was easy to give voice to, I assumed because now it was his voice and not mine doing the talking. Now it was also much easier for him to be loved by my heroine, to win her with his disarming sincerity and the beautiful prose of his completely self-dictated letters. (A word about those letters, in case you get to them someday--one of my earliest readers questioned them, their tone and the nature of the language used, and all I could respond was that I couldn't change them because I hadn't written them. They had written themselves!) As things progressed, I just let Stani have his way--with the story, with Emily, and with me. He's surprised me more than once, made me laugh and cry and cheer at times, and quite honestly, I couldn't be happier with the result!
To check out the first few chapters of Hearts Unfold, take the link on the Where to Buy the Ebooks page above to Amazon.com, where you can simply click the cover to "Look Inside" and read for absolutely free!