I am so excited to have Lia Farell here at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Guest Post and Giveaway.
Thanks Lia and Great Escape Tours for allowing me to join your Five Dog Voodoo Blog Tour!
Please take it away, Lia!
Creating Literary Characters
By Lia Farrell
By Lia Farrell
As a beginning writer, whether you want to write either short stories or a novel, you are going to need characters. I have always loved plot but I have learned that story is character. What we take away from our reading of a good novel is the memory of character. In To Kill a Mockingbird we remember Atticus Finch’s dignified representation of Tom Robinson, knowing that Tom is doomed because of the time and place in which they live. Mockingbird is timeless, not because of the story but because of its characters. Once we start reading a book, we continue with the story because we care about what happens to Atticus, Scout and all the others.
You may have a wonderful character in your head just begging to be brought to light. Or you have a story, a really good story, pleading to be told. I know two women who have this ability to an amazing degree. One of them, a romance writer, could be sitting on the couch watching a football game with her husband when a character sits down beside her, pokes her and says “tell my story.”
A woman in my writing group says she sees a little gnome-like man whittling with his back against a stump. He tells her to get busy and write. Dear Readers, I don’t have this happen to me. And if it did, I think I’d call a psychiatrist immediately! Still some people are so connected to their subconscious that this happens. Odd? Yes. But it works for these writers.
Successful characters are never perfect. In Elizabeth George’s book, “On Writing,” she tells an anecdote about a beginning writer who created a lovely family; sisters who adored each other, a perfect mother, a great dad and childhood memories filled with meals eaten around the family table to the pleasure of great conversation. She was reading the first pages of her novel to the other members of her writing group when one person commented that she was just praying for something bad to happen. There was no conflict and thus there was no story.
The basic guideline in creating character is to give them flaws, allow them to grow and change. As people we are all confronted with issues of self-doubt. So we want to see our characters make mistakes, who have dark times and experience weakness. As an example, Wayne Nichols, the Detective in the Mae December mysteries, is bedeviled by his family and his past. He failed to save his foster mother from an abusive marriage which weighed heavily on him for years. In “Five Dog Voodoo” Wayne’s hatred for spouse abusers led him to use excessive force on a suspect, coercing a confession. Sheriff Bradley sends him to a psychologist to work through his issues, which Wayne resents but reluctantly concedes may be helpful. Wayne is dating Lucy Ingram, M.D. and has immense respect for her. Their relationship has had its rough patches, but has deepened over time. As we begin on our sixth book, Wayne still has a long way to go to accept himself. Actor Donny Wahlberg is who I envision when I am writing Wayne’s chapters in our books.
In creating characters, Elizabeth George suggests beginning with a list of facts about the character, as if the writer were the character’s psychoanalyst, biographer and best friend. I hate slowing the process down to do this, but I have learned it’s important. Be sure to include such background facts as descriptions about the character’s family, where s/he went to school, what they have chosen as a career, important people in their lives and especially how they speak. Bringing a character to life requires complete knowledge of your character, including how they talk. (from “On Writing”, E. George, p. 16).
Many interviews with authors ask the question, “How much of you is in your protagonist’s character?” Most of us duck this question because we aren’t willing to open ourselves to admitting that writing is in part therapy. Our own issues sneak their way into our characters, and do things we didn’t plan for them to do. I was at first surprised when this happened, but now find myself delighted because it means I’m getting to the heart of what the character needs to work on. In sum, if you want to be a writer — decide what you want to write, read in your genre, write every day and begin by designing your characters. When my co-author (and daughter Lisa) and I began the Mae December series, she thought up our protagonist, Mae, still the happy heart of the series.
Five Dog Voodoo (Mae December Mystery)
Camel Press (November 15, 2016)
Paperback: 266 pages
As Halloween approaches, engaged couple Mae December and Sheriff Ben Bradley have devoted all their energy to Ben’s campaign for reelection as sheriff of Rose County, Tennessee. The race is already too close to call when the sheriff’s office is hit with yet another maddeningly tricky murder case. In recent years the town of Rosedale has had more than its fair share of murders, a fact Ben’s smarmy opponent is all too eager to exploit.
Investigator Dory Clarkson and her friend, Counselor Evangeline Bon Temps, are visiting the mysterious Voodoo village when a resident tells them her granddaughter, Zoé Canja, is missing. Her dog, a Weimaraner nursing four pups, escapes the house and finds the young woman’s body in a shallow grave. Evangeline becomes Sheriff Ben Bradley’s unofficial consultant because her grandmother in Haiti and later her mother in New Orleans practiced Voodoo. A threatening symbol is left on the pavement by Dory’s front door, effectively banning her from the case. Evangeline and the sheriff’s office ask too many questions, and Evangeline soon wears out her welcome. Voodoo curses aside, Ben’s job is at stake, and no one associated with the case is safe until the killer is found.
Book 5 in the Mae December Mystery series, which began with One Dog Too Many.
About The Authors
Lia Farrell is the nom de plume for a mother/daughter duo of writers. Mom Lyn Farquhar and Daughter Lisa Fitzsimmons have been collaborating on the Mae December mystery series for four years.
Lyn Farquhar taught herself to read before starting school and honed her story telling abilities by reading to her little sister. Ultimately, her mother ended the reading sessions because Lyn’s sister decided she preferred being read to over learning to read herself. She fell in love with library books at the age of six when a Bookmobile came to her one-room rural elementary school. The day the Bookmobile arrived, Lyn decided she would rather live in the bookmobile than at home and was only ousted following sustained efforts by her teacher and the bookmobile driver.
Lyn graduated from Okemos High School in Michigan and got her college and graduate degrees from Michigan State University. She has a master’s degree in English literature and a Ph.D. in Education, but has always maintained that she remained a student for such a long time only because it gave her an excuse to read. Lyn holds the rank of Professor of Medical Education at Michigan State University and has authored many journal articles, abstracts and research grants. Since her retirement from MSU to become a full time writer, she has completed a Young Adult Fantasy trilogy called Tales of the Skygrass Kingdom. Volume I from the trilogy is entitled Journey to Maidenstone and is available on amazon.com. Lyn has two daughters and six step children, nine granddaughters and three grandsons. She also has two extremely spoiled Welsh Corgi’s. Her hobby is interior design and she claims she has the equivalent of a master’s degree from watching way too many decorating shows.
Lisa Fitzsimmons grew up in Michigan and was always encouraged to read, write and express herself artistically. She was read aloud to frequently. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she was seldom seen without a book in hand. After becoming a mom at a young age, she attended Michigan State University in a tri-emphasis program with concentrations in Fine Art, Art History an Interior Design.
Lisa, with her husband and their two children, moved to North Carolina for three exciting years and then on to Tennessee, which she now calls home. She has enjoyed an eighteen year career as a Muralist and Interior Designer in middle Tennessee, but has always been interested in writing. Almost five years ago, Lisa and her mom, Lyn, began working on a writing project inspired by local events. The Mae December Mystery series was born.
Lisa, her husband and their three dogs currently divide their time between beautiful Northern Michigan in the summertime and middle Tennessee the rest of the year. She and her husband feel very blessed that their “empty nest” in Tennessee is just a short distance from their oldest, who has a beautiful family of her own. Their youngest child has settled in Northern Michigan, close to their cabin there. Life is good.
Webpage – http://www.liafarrell.net/
Blog – http://www.liafarrell.net/blog
GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7353429.Lia_Farrell
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/liafarrellauthor/
Subscribe to Newsletter- http://www.liafarrell.net/newsletter.html
Amazon B and N
Please follow the rest of the tour here, thanks: