Sunday, April 20, 2014


“It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;—it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

THE CHARACTER OF ONE’S CHARACTERS. It is quite strange the way stories develop ‘on the page’—by which I really mean the way characters grow in your mind as if they had minds of their own. Now clearly they can’t have because they are fictional. On the other hand, as you get to know your own characters, they really do seem to take a grip on the story as if they were real people—with their own distinctive outlooks on life, and their own dreams and desires..

INVISIBLE FRIENDS. I spend a great deal of time with my characters—much as if they were friends—and tend to visit with them (so to speak) even when I’m not writing about them. I don’t do that with characters I have killed off (I write thrillers after all) but with characters I intend to write about again. For instance, where Hugo Fitzduane—the protagonist of my first three books—is concerned, it is almost as if he is one of my closest friends. Strangely enough, I didn’t like him much at the beginning—I preferred Shane Kilmara (Fitzduane’s former commanding officer and friend) but Hugo grew on me. He’s decent man, as we say in Ireland.

One trick I have discovered is that it is vastly helpful to think of characters doing normal things like shopping or putting out the garbage in addition to their role in the storyline. That helps to flesh them out—even if I never use that specific mental image in the context of a story.

BLENDED SO THEY STIR. Most of my characters have started off as real people—or blends of real people—but I have noticed that as I have become more experienced I seem to be able to develop characters without consciously relying on an original model. God alone knows what my subconscious is up to. It has neither morals nor scruples (so I’m told) but is consistently creative.

WHITHER A SEXUAL WOMAN? I’m currently wrestling with a secondary character who should be no longer featuring in the main storyline at this stage but who is intriguing me greatly. She is delightfully human—and one of the twists results from her sleeping with the wrong man (hard to believe, but I’m told that happens occasionally).  Her motive? She is in her early fifties, and was as horny as hell.

THE CLIMAX? I’M COGITATING. As of now, I have no idea how matters will evolve. Well, I have some ideas about the evolution part—but not about the resolution. And I’m not sure I have the courage to write what I really want to write. But, I’m working on it—and perhaps I do.

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