By HEMMIE MARTIN
When I’ve completed writing a novel, with all the rewriting and edits entailed within the process, I say goodbye to the characters, and look forward to creating a new community. I relish not only creating a new protagonist, but also a new antagonist, who has the ability to anger, disgust, and perplex me. I love having a blank page ready to fill with all the new details to begin penning a novel.
When I completed In The Light Of Madness, a then one-off crime novel with DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox, I thought I’d said my farewells. But unbeknown to me, they decided to hang around in my mind. I began finding myself wondering what life had in store for them; and yes, I missed interacting with them.
This is when the idea for Rightful Owner crept into my mind, or should I say was pushed there by Wednesday and Lennox. I saw the swinger’s club, their outfits, the rules, and the beautiful seven-bedroomed house surrounded by acres of land, where the Sapphire Club ran once a month. So far, so good. But then I had to develop Wednesday and Lennox’s characters further, and this worried me.
Reviews have often commented on how the reader enjoyed the interaction between the detectives, and liked the sensitivity of Wednesday as she contended with her mother’s metal illness and her own insecurities. Writing the second novel, I now worried I would disappoint people as they already had preconceived ideas about the pair.
Fortunately, every time I write a novel, I use cue cards to write down the characteristics of each character, and add to the card as the character develops new foibles. I write down their tastes in food, drink, clothes, and relationships. This made things easier for me to continue with Wednesday and Lennox in the second novel.
Whereas before, I felt in control of their destinies, I now sense the reader sitting on my shoulder watching my every move, criticising me if I let the characters detour from what the reader believes should happen. This, of course, is irrational, as I’m no longer in charge of the characters, they now tell me what they want to be doing, and how they should be behaving. Wednesday and Lennox are people who are in my life, just like my actual friends who run their own lives, but interact with me.
Before I had time to finish the second novel, an idea for the third came to mind, which I jotted down quickly, then ignored while I completed the second one. I was seeing things that excited me, and I wondered whether I should press things further between Wednesday and Lennox, but I felt scared; I didn’t want to ruin the camaraderie between them, even though something else was emerging. Perhaps I’d venture more down that road in the third novel?
I’ve now written the fourth novel, and a plot for the fifth is burgeoning in my mind. It’s exciting to see what’s happening in their lives, as well as devising new crimes to interest myself and the reader.
You may know that I also write contemporary fiction with a dark edge, to keep my mind and writing fresh. This also allows me to create new characters and communities to stimulate new areas of my brain. All writing is good for creativity, even if, when it comes to editing, I sigh and press the delete button. Writing a series isn’t as scary as I thought it would be, but rather exciting. It’s comforting to be among familiar faces and places.
Rightful Owner is published by Winter Goose Publishing. The third in the series, Shadows In The Mind is coming out in May 2015.