Getting to Know You

One of my favorite parts about creating fiction is getting to know my characters. When you spend such a colossal amount of time with them, they quickly become the oldest of new friends. There is an infinite amount of pleasure in wondering what they’re going to say and do next, in listening to what they have to tell me, in arguing with them about our religious and political differences. 

 

Although my characters can never measure up to my dearest of friends (much like the one pictured here — my confidant, my lifesaver, my smile-maker, my therapist, my tea-sharer, my loud-laugher, my Mary), they make for pretty good company on a day when I’m curled up on the couch in my PJs, flanked by snoring dogs, drinking coffee by the gallon, and writing.

While I was preparing for the release of “Table for Six,” I had to take a break from my latest work of fiction. “Table for Six” needed me, my time, my attention, my sleeping hours, my firstborn child. It consumed me for weeks. And I, in turn, consumed a great deal of red wine in order to create some balance. All that editing, all that formatting, all that Facebooking, all that website development, all that Tweeting…

The demands of a book rival that of an infant. And damn — I’m just too old for infants.

You’ve been such a fine audience for my latest baby, though. Online sales of “Table for Six” are through the roof. And the notes, comments, and emails you’ve been sending me are so very much appreciated. I am, in fact, collecting them all into a single document that I will pull out and read when I’ve forgotten to take my happy pills, when I’m ready to strangle one of my children, when I’m doubting whether I can create a coherent string of words, or when I’m PMSing.

They’re that yummy.

I think I’ll call the Word document “Validation.”

(Sidebar and Shameless Plug: If you haven’t read “Table for Six” yet, you can buy it on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble.)

As thrilled as I am with my first book being in the hands of the world, I’ve been eager to return to “See How They Run.” Fiction, after all, is my first love. I thoroughly enjoy writing about my kids and they continue to offer me unending story fodder, but I believe my true talent — and my deepest passion — exists in creating a compelling story line, unearthing some interesting characters, and exploring the depths of human relationships.

I like to write with a little more “umph.”

As I’ve returned to “See How They Run,” I’ve had to become reacquainted with my characters. Catherine, Anne, and Jessica — my trio of wayward and damaged sisters — took a vacation while I was tending to The Baby. They’re back now, and I’m pouring them each a glass of wine so we can sit down and catch up.

Here’s the thing… I love asking “What if?” And every time I ask it, they each give me a different answer.

That’s the magic of creation.

All along, I’ve known Catherine and Anne better than I’ve known Jessica. She’s a wily one, that Jessica, and she actually requires a bit of research. She’s a stripper, and as a former self-conscious prude, I’ve never set foot in a strip club. Luckily, I have a husband, a posse of his male friends, a group of my hard-partying girlfriends, and some wildly fun lesbian friends who are all more than willing to engage in that particular bit of research with me. They’re such Givers that way.

In all honesty, though, I can’t wait to hit the “Red Garter” to find out more about Jessica. I want to see where she works, want to breathe the smoky haze, want to look into the eyes of the patrons, want to smell the Scotch and the Tequila shots. It’s a part of her I have yet to discover.

When I’m immersed in writing a novel, I love to spend a great deal of time people-watching. Whether I’m sitting in a restaurant or walking through the mall or getting my oil changed, I can always find a snippet of a conversation that provokes a new “What if” — can always notice something about a stranger that will ultimately become a quirk of one of my beloved characters.

And through these little interactions, they come to life. Piece by piece by precious piece.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with Catherine, Anne, and Jessica.

I can’t wait for you to meet them.

 

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About Katrina Anne Willis

Professional copywriter, author, friend, lover, dreamer, drinker of red wine.
This entry was posted in Help From My Friends, Write On and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Getting to Know You

  1. Ooh, can I be a “Giver”? 🙂

    Table for Six blew me away…and now you’re telling me you’ve got more “umph” coming?

    Wow–can’t wait to be umph’d!

  2. My friend, you are the Captain of the aforementioned Hard-Partying Girlfriends. You’ve always been a Giver.

  3. Even though I don’t fit into any of the categories you mentioned, I am available and willing to help with that research as well. That’s just the kind of friend I am… willing to do whatever it takes to support you and your writing endeavors!

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