Archive | 2:13 pm

I Am My Characters and My Characters Are Me

12 Jul

003So let’s talk about that, shall we?  Where do my characters come from? Who are they really?  Where does the inspiration come from for those characters?

But first, a quote…..


“Our family makes us who we are, defines us totally. When you go to a therapist or have analysis, whatever reason you go in for, they will always bring you back to your family. We’re strong or weak according to what family we have. You might have left them long ago, might not even talk to them, but something lingers; we have no choice.” Sandrine Bonnaire
Truth?  For me, probably!  I’m adopted, so I have nothing to go by when talking about blood genetics, but I do know my adopted family greatly molded who I am today, and I think that’s inevitable for all of us.  I turned out okay, and for that I have my parents to thank….and the lessons they taught me, and the actions I observed, are prevalent in my characters and in my books.

I’m not just a storyteller.  My stories are vehicles which carry truths, messages and philosophies.  I prefer to write in first person because it allows me the freedom to expound on my reflections and philosophy about life…through my characters.

So, what does that look like in my books?

Here’s an example……


“I’m not a big fan of the word “closure.”  It seems like New Age bullshit to me.  How does knowing the name of the killer bring your daughter back? How does it ease the pain?  How does it lessen the number of tears that are cried ten years down the road on your dead child’s birthday?  It doesn’t!  The best one can hope for are answers to questions, the de-mystifying of an unacceptable situation.  But closure?  You never close the door on a loved one who was taken from you violently.  In fact, I propose you always want that door left open.”town_881


As a young kid I was an observer.  I still am.  I was the little kid in the corner watching everyone else, listening to them, gauging their reactions to stimuli, trying to understand why they acted the way they acted.  I still do that.  I don’t talk much in public but I miss very little.  People are people are people. We all have the same senses. We all have the same emotions, and my characters say the things I have observed over the years….and they say things I believe to be truth about this thing we call life.

That particular section, spoken by my protagonist, Eli Baker, finds its birthplace in the death of my father when I was nineteen.  It’s been forty-eight years since he died suddenly of a heart attack, died in my arms on a Friday night, and I still haven’t experienced closure….and quite frankly I don’t want to.  The happy times and the bad times of my father, I want to keep them all close by.  They are comfort to me.


Eli is a no-nonsense kind of guy.  He has a pretty defined sense of right and wrong, and heaven help you if you do him, or a loved one of his, wrong.  An eye for an eye is pretty much how Eli operates.

Do I believe in an eye for an eye?  It would be the safest thing in the world for me to say no, I don’t, that it’s a barbaric way to think in today’s civilized world.  But remember, we’re talking truth here…deep-down honesty.  If you kill my wife, or my son, do I have it in me to kill you in return?

I’m not sure I have a definitive answer for that question!

So I understand Eli and I think he understands me.

Eli comes from a belief I have that there is good in all of us and a touch of evil in all of us.  No one is lilly-white.  Few of us are completely dark but the potential for darkness is there, hidden deep within….and under the right set of circumstances…..well, who knows?  The inspiration for that discussion of evil? Remember, I had Ted Bundy as a paperboy growing up, and I can tell you, Ted appeared to be perfectly normal….so how do we know?


Next week we’ll talk about the women in my novels, and my special fondness for strong, powerful women.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”