If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our March author interviews: Karen Pullen (3/1), Lowcountry Crime authors: Tina Whittle, Polly Iyer, Jonathan M. Bryant, and James M. Jackson (3/8), Annette Dashofy (3/15), Edith Maxwell (3/22) and Barb Ross (3/29).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in March: Maris Soule (3/4), and Virginia Mackey (3/11). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 3/18--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 3/25--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for pre-order.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Strange and Wonderful Places We "See" Our Characters



I got this feeling on the summer day when you were gone.
I crashed my car into the bridge. I watched, I let it burn.
I threw your sh*t into a bag and pushed it down the stairs.
I crashed my car into the bridge.
I don’t care, I love it.
I don’t care.

Those words aren’t my own, but yet I feel like I own them.

Or at least my manuscript does.

Let me explain.

When I’m deep into the first draft of a manuscript, I start seeing references to it everywhere. It’s like how when intuition tells you you’re being followed and yet all you see are shadows: There’s something familiar there, something striking, something that makes your spine tingle. But you can’t quite put your finger on it. Still, it speaks to the deepest part of you.

And that’s where those words come in. They’re the opening lyrics to the song “I Love It” by the Swedish dance duo Icona Pop. That’s them up there, looking all cool and hip in their video.

And, for some reason, they’re speaking my language. My story’s language.

I heard “I Love It” on the radio and immediately thought: Holy cow, that’s my WIP! As soon as I got home, I pulled up the video on my laptop and put it on repeat about twenty times. And each time it looped through, I felt even more conviction.

This song was my main character’s anthem. It’s her song. It’s the story’s song.

Even though my work in progress had absolutely nothing to do with Sweden or musicians or dancing. Heck, even the lyrics don’t make literal sense. There’s no car crashing into a bridge, no break-up with wedding dresses and iPads tumbling to the ground floor.

Nope. None of that.

Here’s the pitch: Big-deal New York sports writer A.J. Beckett inadvertently quits her job in a power-play gone wrong and ends up boomeranging back to her very first writing gig: Covering high school football in her Nebraska hometown for $50 a game. When the local high school’s backup quarterback ends up face-down in a creek, A.J. goes searching for answers and soon finds the rosy glow of memories she has surrounding her childhood influencers — from the legendary football coach to the editor who hired her a second time — is blinding her from a very ugly truth.

Now you’re probably really confused: “What the heck does Nebraska high school football have to do with a car crash and a fight and is there a love story in there somewhere? Are you insane?

So, a peek into my brain: I see A.J. quitting her job like a car crash — it’s sudden and violent and totally turns her world to ashes, leaving her with nothing but an embarrassing trip home and, subsequently, a stint doing the exact last thing a successful person wants to do: Her first ever job. And for that, and many other reasons, the idea of “I don’t care. I love it,” is a huge theme — that we can do what we love anywhere, even if it’s in a lowly Nebraska pig town.

You see? Not so crazy, right? (I hope.)

So tell me, where does your main character/story/theme magically appear in real life?

10 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

My themes are unfortunately all too real. Child abuse, drugs and greed. But then again, my main characters start out either weak and/or naive and grow into stronger and wiser people, which I also think is common and real. Many people overcome problems from growing up in dysfunctional homes or other family issues. I like the theme that the truth can set you free, that a problem identified is a problem overcome, at least in the shining future. But my stories have no theme song as yet.

Ian Rankin's character Rebus was a Stones fan. Many of his books followed the theme of one of their songs. Since I'm a Stone's fan too, this theme song parallel was fun.

Shari Randall said...

A.J. sounds like a terrific character. And that song - it is infernally catchy, isn't it? Plus empowering and optimistic - and totally crazy - if that's A.J.'s theme song, she'll be one very interesting woman to read about.
The main character in my WIP's theme song is Pat Benatar's Shadows of the Night - romantic, totally over the top - or anything sung by Heart. You are too young to know who that is.

Sarah Henning said...

Ha, ha, I LOVE Pat Benatar! Now I'm going to start begging you to let me beta your WIP, Shari!

E.B., um, yeah, I could see how you wouldn't have a theme song for your characters. I don't blame you in the least!

Sarah said...

Not crazy! (Unless I am too!) I often relate songs to my characters even when the lyrics don't apply in a literal sense. I'm sure even those who have read my stories would wonder why I have the songs in my book playlists that I do. I could probably explain some of them but others maybe not. Some of them I connect to my characters simply because of a feeling the song gives me. Great blog post! =)

Sarah Henning said...

Thanks, Sarah! I've never had an actual playlist for a book. Mostly because I can't listen to music while writing, but I totally would if I could. I'm sure it really gets you "there" with your characters.

Gloria Alden said...

I'm afraid my music is of a different time and place. :-) The songs that appear in my books are songs like those from Simon and Garfunkle, folk, blues, Celtic or classical music.

I can listen to music when reading or writing. I don't always, but often do. I almost always have music on in the evenings when I settle down to read. I can't imagine a life without music. I go to a lot of concerts and buy a lot of CD's, too.

Paula Gail Benson said...

It really is funny where you can find ideas for characters. I was watching a PBS program about a chef who grew up with a large fireplace in his home kitchen, and who learned to cook meat by dangling it from oiled strings over the blazing fire. The image remained with me until I came up with a character who might use that cooking method. Not sure what musical background might accompany the cooking . . . ;)

Warren Bull said...

I set one, still unpublished, manuscript during my adolescence and wound up with a sound track in my head with the music of my youth.

Kara Cerise said...

Every time I drive down Brittany Parc Street I think it would be fun to write a story about a character named Brittany Parc. Another nearby street is Colonel Lindsay. The street names fire up my imagination. What if Brittany finds the body of her neighbor, the colonel, and is accused of killing him?

Sarah Henning said...

Kara, I love that you see characters in street names! That seems like the perfect place to randomly find somebody who sticks in your head.