Where Does This Stuff Come From
As part of the release of my novel, Nicolai’s Daughters, I’ve been doing readings in various locations both close to home and further away. I love meeting new people and getting to know them, love hearing their comments, love their many questions, just plain love all human interaction, particularly since my work typically requires I toil alone. This is such a hard thing to do for someone like me who is so − how do I put this − social. Others might say, talkative. I think the ability to form and maintain relationships is such a gift. But I digress.
I give a great deal of thought to every question that is asked of me and of my novel during these reading events, wonder later if I could have provided a better answer, tell myself I’ll do better next time, and basically try to learn from every experience. There are, however, some questions that come up time and time again that simply won’t let me go. One such question: how do you develop your characters? Initially I stumbled on this. I’d talk about writing and rewriting, research, doing character mock ups, listening for a particular tick in speech a character might display. Basically I didn’t really know, or perhaps hadn’t given it much thought, but with all the arm waving I did when I responded to this question, I thought I was convincing. Maybe. As I’ve thought of this question more, I’ve been able to streamline my response (haven’t given up on the arm waving though): I’m not so sure I develop my characters as much as they find me and insist on being uncovered. This happens usually when I’m minding my own business and doing something else.