Friday, 3 August 2012

When You Fall In Love - With Your Characters

Agatha Christie described him as a "detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep." No, she wasn't talking about her agent. In fact the person she was talking about was her own creation, the 'insufferable' Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Unfortunately her adoring public loved him and consequently Ms Christie was stuck with him.

A similar fate befell Sir Arthur Conan Doyle whose fictional detective is now better remembered than his creator. Sherlock Holmes captivated the imagination of millions around the world and is still regarded as the archetypal sleuth. So outraged was the response to Holme's demise at the hand of his arch enemy Moriaty that Doyle was compelled to resurrect the great man and abandon his plan to spend more time on his historical novels.

Most of us I am sure would love to have a similar problem but what happens if you were to suffer the same experience only in reverse? What if you fell in love with your characters and refused to abandon them? Creating a character is almost like giving birth. I make that statement with the confidence that my wife will never read this post! We breathe life into our characters that we first imagined in our heads and lovingly and painstakingly shape them with our words into 'living' beings. Then, with bated breath, we send them out into the world and hope the world will embrace them as its own. Creating a character with personality inevitably means something of yourself is forever committed to your creation.

But what if the world is indifferent or worse, rejects your character? As a writer do you follow suit and move on to hopefully more successful ventures? Not that easy is it? Having invested so much time and creative energy letting go can be a tad difficult to say the least. This was exactly my experience with a group of characters I created for an initial six part comedy series entitled Jack's High set in a mythical Welsh Valley called Penypont.

The focus of the sitcom is the local bowls club. Because bowls is one of those sports that has no gender or age restrictions it can be seen as representative of society at large. The story line revolves around two members, prospective mayor Councillor Mervyn Lloyd and Dr Beynon Headmaster of the local comprehensive school. Their increasingly deteriorating relationship forms the backcloth against which other characters are drawn and defined.

Jack's High also reflects the cinematic and televison influences that helped shape my formative years. Star Trek, The X Files, The Godfather, Christopher Lee's Dracula, Alien Abductions, Sinister Cults, Hannibal Lector, Captain Scott's ill fated Antarctic expedition and the Ancient Druids all feature in what you probably have gathered is often a surreal experience. Truth to tell I fell in love with my little world. How many of you can honestly say you have not done the same?

Having come across the BBC's  Writers Room I duly submitted a script and eagerly awaited a response which proved positive having been given a full read. Only a small percentage of scripts progress to this stage and I was duly requested to submit another. My second script was returned with more encouraging comments and again I was requested to submit a further script. I should have been delighted. The truth is that because of the caveat that accompanied the request I was anything but. I was asked to write something completely new as they were, at that time, not interested in developing my sitcom as it stood. That was over a year ago and to date I have still not responded.

How can I abandon my little world? It is now as real to me as the one I inhabit daily. I am sure that this apparently bizarre behaviour resonates with many of you? What writer has not felt the same affinity to his creations? If you have I would really like to hear from you if only to confirm I am not, to coin a phrase, losing the plot completely.
I am currently considering writing the whole thing as a novel. What would you do? All suggestions gratefully received.

Next week a declaration of the outbreak of hostilities. Genre Wars has arrived. In the first instalment with whom will you side, Vampires or Zombies? I hope to include links back to the blogs of all mutual Twitter Followers who write within these genres.
Welcome T.R. Heinan
I am delighted to welcome R.T. Like me R.T. is retired but is using his time far more selflessly.
 Just wish there were more people on the planet like him
T.R. Heinan was born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota and developed his love for history during his five years at Marquette University. After a brief stint as a journalist in Massachusetts, Heinan began a career in investment banking specializing in the airline and motion picture industries. His retirement years have been devoted to writing and to serving orphaned and homeless children at a Mexican orphanage that he helped to establish. L'Immortalitè is his first book-length work of historical fiction.
He is an avid traveler and was inspired to write about Delphine Lalaurie during one of his many visits to New Orleans, Louisiana. Heinan now resides in Tucson, Arizona with his wife and two cats.
On the evening of April 10, 1834, a suicidal act of arson by a desperate slave exposed the horrific crimes taking place in a mansion belonging to one of New Orleans leading families. The fire at 1140 Rue Royale has continued to enflame legends, ghost stories and historical debate ever since.
L'Immortalitè, Delphine Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen, while fictional, is based on people, places and events torn from the chronicles of New Orleans history. Delphine Lalaurie, the insane empress of Creole high society, Doctor Louis Lalaurie, her mad scientist spouse, Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and her snake, Zombie are all a part of New Orleans history. Other characters in the book, such as Judge Jean Canonge, Delphine Lalaurie's nephew Auguste Delassus, former mayor Augustine de Macarty, Bastien the slave and neighbor Marthe de Montreuil were actual people who witnessed the shocking events at the Lalaurie Mansion
Coming this October from Nonius LLC Press.
Once it is released I will provide a link from this blog. It sounds absolutely fascinating.
Link to J.T's Blog:
Link to J.T's Web Site
 A Warm Welcome To JC Piech

 JC has cleverly timed the launch of her first novel to coincide with the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games - does anybody know why bowls isn't included?
As Indie authors we all have to take responsibility for promoting our own work so this was a really opportunistic piece of marketing by JC. JC had obviously planned this promotion well in advance because as one reviewer puts it . . .
"When I first heard about J. C. Martin's book Oracle I thought "What an interesting idea to write a thriller about a serial killer at the Olympics" and then I thought "Oh no! What if this is just a run of the mill serial killer book with a few references to the Olympics forced in by the publisher's publicity department to allow for a bit of cashing-in to go on". Well, I needn't have worried. As someone who doesn't really take to serial killer plots (far too many of them around for my liking) I'm delighted to say that I loved this book.

The events in Oracle could only take place at the time of the Olympics (not to give too much of the plot away) and J. C. Martin has written a riveting, fast paced, page turner of a debut novel with plenty of twists and turns along the way. The pace never lets up from page 1 and I never felt the need to skip a passage or two (again very rare for me!)."

This is what JC has to say about herself:
I'm an English author, content writer and creative confidence mentor. I've been writing since 2002 and have had a number of short stories and non-fiction articles published. 'Don't Be Afraid' is my debut novel.

I'm passionate about stories. I believe they enrich our lives in the same way that music and art does. Stories help us explore the outer world, and our own inner worlds as well.

I run creative confidence workshops for people who want to make better use of their creativity but lack the confidence to do so. My philosophy is that everyone has the capacity for creative confidence, but that each individual must find their own path to it.

Click on the JC's blog logo to pay her a visit.
Finally Hello Tara Ford
I think we've all been where Tara is right now. In fact many of us probably keep going round in circles.
Here's what Tara has to say about herself and why her housework is suffering!.

 "I have spent the last thirty years waiting to write my first book, why so long? I hear you ask. You know how it is, you get an idea in your head, mull it over for a while, get married, rekindle the dream momentarily, have children and then wake up thirty years down the line and think…OMG! Where did that time go? I knew the genre I wanted to write for from the start but couldn’t ever quite come up with the right storyline, until now.
This is an incredible experience for me and has been from the very start. I have researched so many possibilities to success, made new friends, acquaintances, followers and contacts. I spent decades wondering what story to write and now I have them lined up waiting to pop out of my head. The hoovering takes five times longer to do these days as the motion of cleaning carpets/laminate flooring provokes the writer in me and I have to stop the housework in favour of jotting down quick notes before they leave me forever."

And here's Tara' s take on blogging and the dreadful discovery most Indie authors make after they have written their first book.

 "Becoming an aspiring author has been quite an experience already thanks to social networking sites. I have learnt that the easy part of Author-dom is to write the book… the really hard work comes with the marketing, networking, following, and blogging! What is all this stuff? Arrrgh! I have ‘follower’ meltdown and ‘like’ overload. As for this blogging business… everyone else seems to be creating wonderfully interesting blogs about every topic conceivable (including blogs about blogging!). I don’t know where to start? Should I return to that blue bird place where people ‘tweet’ by the second using @ and #? I don’t understand most of the messages and spend more precious moments asking search engines what ‘RT’ means or ‘How do I start a blog?’ than actually achieving what I originally set out to do – network! This is my very first blog in the ‘blog-world’, I hope it lives up to and looks like any standard blog (whatever one of those looks like). Thank you for reading… I’m all blogged out now as it took one hundred and fifty times longer to discover how to make a blog page than it did to write it. Hopefully I will be back soon and will have a more positive outlook in my next blog."

You can read Tara's blog by clicking on the image below. She would love a visit from you.:
Make sure you make the deadline for publication Tara.
Let me know when you do  and I will provide a link from this blog.
Don't forget next week is the first round of the Genre Wars. Time to choose.


  1. Hi Phil, could you please correct this asap. You should be linking to JC Martin's blog, not mine.

  2. Hi JC,

    I seem to have made a right 'you know what'. Apologies.