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Ramblings about Character Development

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” — Natalie Goldberg 

It worked to my advantage, in the end, to have married men I wasn’t supposed to.

Multiple messy divorces and child custody issues have a way of hanging around in one’s brain for a long time. As do the legal bills.

Alighting from these experiences as a frantic and focused single mom with four kids, I didn’t have time to think about how any of it could end up being a good thing, but it has turned out that way. Miraculously.

As I sit here and write guest posts for the promotion of my second book, and think about the next two I’ve been contracted to write, I’m darkly grateful for these experiences, because I can write my edgy, page-turning thrillers with the quiet competence and composure of “been there, done that.” As hundreds of thousands of other women before me. Single moms, I salute you. It’s not an easy task, or one that anyone would undertake willingly.

Thanks to my graduate degrees in divorce and overly complicated relationships, I can write with astute clarity about psychological warfare, passive-aggressive game-playing, righteous indignation, chronic deception, destruction of property…the list goes on. This makes for a really nasty bad guy, and to my utter delight, I find that most suspense and mystery writers love to write and explore the underpinnings of their bad guys (or girls) more than they like to develop their protagonists. This is both ironic and hilarious to me. I do write my bad guys with a focused contempt…my fingers fly across the keys and I have this little, sardonic smile that pastes itself on my face. With every stroke, I feel a kind of retribution, which is really sick because I should walk in forgiveness.

Oh well. God understands.

So I take these experiences and meld them into antagonists and stretch and pull them in a thousand destructive ways, like a demonic manipulation of the Stretch Armstrong Action Toy. (Have you seen this guy? Why would kids need a stretchable bodybuilder to play with? Just wondering.)

I give them my own form of retribution in the plotline, make them sag and sigh and work out their personal issues, because in my books, and it may be by the skin of her teeth, the woman fights back. She won’t stay down. It may look like the bad guy won. It may look like the woman has bailed for the tenth time. It may look like she has lost everything, but wait.

Things are not always what they seem.

And to this end, my current book, released in February of 2021, is titled The Deadening. The next in the series, releasing in 2022, is titled The Rising. I sense a theme, here.


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