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

August Interview Schedule
8/7 Rhys Bowen Love and Death Among the Cheetahs
8/14 Heather Gilbert Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass
8/21 Lynn Chandler Willis Tell Me No Secrets
8/28 Cynthia Kuhn The Subject of Malice
8/31 Bernard Schaffer An Unsettled Grave

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 8/3 M. S. Spencer, 8/10 Zaida Alfaro

WWK Satuday Bloggers: 8/24 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology will be released on June 18th.

Congratulations to Margaret S. Hamilton for being a finalist in the Daphne Du Maurier contest. Margaret competes in the Unpublished/Mainstream mystery/suspense category.

Congratulations to Shari Randall for WINNING the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interview about the book here. Yay, Shari!

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.

James M. Jackson extends the Seamus McCree series with the May 25th publication of #6, False Bottom.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teardrops for Robbi

"It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed."
                                    Ernest Hemingway as quoted by William C. Knott

I have a confession to make.  For the last few weeks, I've been in mourning. No, I haven't lost a family member, a friend, or even a pet. I killed off a character I came to adore.

I've made much ado about being a pantser, but I created this character with my eyes wide open. I knew from the moment I thought her up she would die. I realized she was a device, a means to an end, a transport mechanism for my young adult protagonist to experience the epiphany he needs to reach. It still doesn't make it any easier.

First a bit of background: Robbi Tallmadge is a female CIA employee in my teen spy novel, the third and final in the series. Her name is an amalgam of the names of Robert Townsend and Benjamin Tallmadge, two top Revolutionary War spies in General George Washington's now famous (especially if you're a fan of Brad Meltzer's fiction) group of spies, the Culper Ring. Not that any teen reading the novel would ever make the connection, I just thought, as a history buff, it was a nice touch.

Robbi has a bit of Asperger's Spectrum Disorder. She eschews eye contact, focuses obsessively on getting her job right, lacks social grace, is often painfully blunt, and cannot stand physical contact with others unless it is to engage in the one martial art she's perfected for self-defense. She provides, I hope, a bit of balance, an automaton compared to my emotive, hormone- and angst-ridden teenage protagonists.

Like many characters, she is a study in contrasts. In her quest for perfection, she becomes imperfect in what I hope are some likeable and laughable ways. In her desire to always be right, she miscalculates at a critical juncture in the action. To me, one of her most endearing qualities is that she often infuriates the other characters with her personality quirks. Then she'll offer a gemstone of subterfuge that shows them the depth of her value.

Because the crux of spycraft is blending in, she possesses the duality of having a wealth of knowledge that she cannot herself employ. When she seeks to "disguise" the protagonist by putting him in a wheelchair, he protests, believing the chair will only bring him unwanted stares. Robbi astutely notes in what is perhaps an observation on her own character, "You will find…there's nothing more invisible, nothing at all, than a handicapped person."

As important as Robbi is, she couldn't carry an entire book as a protagonist. She's a device, plain and simple. She's spice. No one wants an entire bottle of spice in one sitting.

Perhaps if I hadn't based her physical appearance on someone I know well and admire, I would have had less difficulty processing her death. I doubt it, though.

For weeks I couldn't put another word on the page. I guess I could make a reasoned argument for the worth and importance of investing in one's own artistic creations, but I believe I'd just be deflecting. I created Robbi. I came to love her, quirks and all. She's dead. And I'm still sad.


Sarah Henning said...

It's so sad when we have to kill off characters we love! I was incredibly sad to kill off the victim in my latest. He was such a sweet kid. And, with him, the fact that he was so awesome came out during the investigation. Which I think made the whole thing sadder, at least to me. Luckily, my betas and agent agreed and were very upset about losing him. Great for me, sad for him :(

Warren Bull said...

Think prequel.

Shari Randall said...

I'm with Warren - prequel! I liked Robbi so much just from your description. Sometimes the characters that play the role of sidekick intrigue more than the protagonist.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Robbi sounds like an interesting character. I remember talking with a writer friend about a possible plot point and suggested that perhaps a particular minor character would be killed.

“Oh no,” she said. “You can’t do that.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because I like her. If you have to kill someone, kill [name of a different character]. She’s a b*tch.”

Yet if only the bad, the ill-mannered, the misfits die, where is the angst? My writer friend would be happy to lose the one character; it would cause no blip in her ability to read right through the passage, yet if the character I chose died, the reader would feel the loss—and if that’s what needs to be done, then we can mourn her together, as you, Sam, are mourning Robbi.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

I've killed several minor characters I've liked, and it's hard to do, but most of who I kill are not very nice people so I have no compunction with offing them. Your Robbi sounds like one it would be hard to kill and live with doing it.

Paula Gail Benson said...

I remember being so disappointed in a well known author's book when I realized a unique and very likable character had been introduced only to serve as a victim. I think it's really important to honor the characters you create, let them reach their full potential, not just use them as a plot device and then move on as if they didn't matter. Even though you knew Robbi's fate, it sounds like you've nurtured her and given her existence meaning, not just expedience. Thanks for honoring her character, Sam.

Kara Cerise said...

You created a unique and intriguing character, Sam. Robbi seems so human that it must have been difficult to say goodbye to her.

Perhaps Robbi has more to say? I like Shari and Warren's idea of a prequel.

Carla Damron said...

I once had a character talk me out of killing her off. Said that Robbi had to go, but you made her real, which is pretty darn cool.

E. B. Davis said...

I've never killed off a character other than victims, but I can imagine how it must feel. I'd use the character again, perhaps disguised a bit, in another piece. Think of them as relocated by the FBI's Witness Protection Program.

I've aborted characters before when testing out ideas for shorts or novels that now seem suspended. They're developed so I can use them if and when I decide to write their stories. Since I've read your blog in the last 24 hours, I've had ideas for resurrecting one character. I liked her a lot--because she was similar to me! Our fiction makes us honest.