I’m very happy to welcome Merry Jones with a guest post, but first here’s what her new release ‘What You Don’t Know’ is all about…
The wife of a lawyer and mother of two girls, she slides under everyone’s radar, never revealing what she really is—a murderer.
At least, she feels like one.
Nora’s plagued by the secrets surrounding her older brother’s suicide decades earlier. Yet she lives as though he never existed.
Now, in her thirties, Nora suspects her husband, Dave, is having an affair with her friend, the wife of a leading US Senate candidate. When her friend’s body is discovered—another apparent suicide—Nora is left with haunting secrets and choices that dredge up her grim nature, the side of herself that no one ever sees. Will she act on her impulses? Mustn’t she?
How far will Nora go to protect the life she has built for herself?
What You Don’t Know is due to be released on the 8th of this month and can be purchased from Amazon UK | Amazon US
Now over to Merry…
Characters, Characters Everywhere
Even as I’m writing this, a punkish twenty-something with spiked hair is begging me to give her a sleeve tattoo of a cobra. Earlier, she wanted magenta hair and pierces in places I can’t mention here.
Her older sister asks me to let her stab someone.
These are just two of the characters pestering me.
Simultaneously, several others scream at me for not choosing them.
“Why did you pick her? I’m a librarian. I have parakeets. No one would suspect me.”
Or, “It’s my turn–I’ve waited YEARS to be in a book.”
Or, “That bitch is a stupid cliché! Take me instead. I’m interesting: I ride a unicycle.”
Choosing characters, as you can see, can be challenging.
I usually begin my books with plot ideas. River Killings involved human trafficking. Child’s Play, sociopathic kids. What You Don’t Know, the effects of bullying.
Once I have the idea, I mentally send out job descriptions and wait for characters to apply.
Soon, applications flood my mind—Characters wanting to be written about. They clamor and compete, reciting their ages, genders, ambitions, phobias, favorite desserts, passions for cats, opera, or football. They describe their migraines, their cold sores. Confide that they snore, lisp, fear the dark or spiders or heights. Clearly, I don’t need to know everything about characters before I select them. But knowing details helps me see them as well-rounded and three-dimensional.
Obviously, not every character who “applies” is appropriate for the plot. Often, the rejected ones hang around, resentful, pestering, keeping me awake, interrupting my conversations, trying to persuade me to change my mind. Sometimes, they’re actually right; they do fit the plot better than my initial choice. The dentist is out; the dog-walker in.
Before I put that dog-walker on paper, though, I live with her for a while, getting to know her. Eventually, she tells me why she walks dogs. What she does when she isn’t walking them. What she likes for breakfast. Who her friends are. Whether she snores, lisps or bites her nails. Why she kills.
Even then, after I’ve decided on her and, for example, gone out to dinner with my husband, the other, unchosen characters—the dentist, the ice cream man–keep tapping my shoulder. “You can still change your mind,” they say.
“I’d be a better choice. I’m deeper.”
“I’m more articulate. And appealing.
“Yeah? Well, I’m better at subterfuge.”
I try to tune them out. But I know they won’t go away. They’ll stay in my head, popping up repeatedly, at all hours. I try to appease them with glimmers of hope.
“Be patient,” I tell them. “Maybe you’ll get a spot next time.”
“Really? You mean it? What’s the next one about?”
“Whoa—Back off. I was here first. I’ve waited years.”
“Because you’re boring. She’ll never pick you.”
Characters are everywhere, always. And on it goes.
Thanks so much for such an entertaining post, Merry.