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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Characters - The Most Fascinating Aspect of Writing

My first book, Magic Creek, got offers from publishers if I would change the ending because the way it ended was socially unacceptable. I couldn't do it. It ended the way it wanted to end.

I made the first Rafe Vincennes book, Sociopath?, free because I figured Rafe would offend a lot of people and I didn't want them to think I took their money under false pretenses (although you'd have thought the title would be a clue). My assumption was that if you read the first volume and were horrified, well, then you'd certainly be warned about not buying the next ones. Because Rafe doesn't change. He is the same now in the seventh in the series as he was at the beginning. 

Potential publishers have commented (in rejection letters) that Rafe is "too unique", he doesn't fit in any recognizable "genre", he embraces "taboos". Maybe if I could take that part out....and that part....

And that's why I turned to e-publishing. Because Rafe is who he is. Not because I decided it but because he did. And he has his fans. He's gotten several 5-star reviews, precisely because some readers appreciate his uniqueness, his unwillingness to be forced into a genre, his lack of concern about what other people think of his behavior.

That is what I find to be the most fascinating aspect of both reading and writing. Where do characters come from and how to they make themselves known? Authors are only middlemen. At least that's the way it is with me. I never feel as if I "make up" my characters. I don't create them out of my head. They are already there, full-blown. All they really need is a transcriber.

I can't write to a genre. I can't follow a format. I can't change endings. I can't take parts out.

I wish I could. I'd love to be a best-selling author. I'd love to see my name on the New York Times best-seller list. I'd love to be interviewed on the Today show.

When I wrote Carrots and Sticks, it was an attempt to do just that. It started as a traditional romance. I had it all planned out. By Gosh, I was going to follow the rules and sell this one! That lasted for less than a chapter until my characters veered to the dark side. So I sighed and wrote it their way. Like I always do.

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