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Tag Archives: Creating eccentric fiction characters

Making your fiction characters sick

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

I’ve talked before about giving your fiction characters tags such as jangling keys in their pocket or going silent when someone starts arguing with them. These tags show character traits and help the reader connect better with them. The first trait mentioned might occur when the character is impatient and the second opens a lot of things the author can show about the character. It might be as simple as the character hates arguing but he or she might be afraid to speak up when challenged. Both those bring up the question “Why?” in the reader’s mind. And give the author leeway to build his or her character.

Another trait that can be used is health issues – good or bad. Maybe you want your character to be an extreme fitness buff. Maybe he is passionate about playing golf. But the flip side of the coin can present even more interesting character tags – the character’s illness or an injury – the latter maybe occurring during the story. For example, the late Robert Parker in one of his Spencer novels had Spencer get shot in the chest and part of the novel dealt with his recovery and how it affected him both professionally and personally.

In my Beyond novel, Beyond Blood, I give Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding an affliction no one really wants – migraines. I know of where I write here because when I was in my early 30s (back in the grey ages, of course), I had migraines with almost the whole enchilada in symptoms. Didn’t have the aura but I did get sick to my stomach and of course the pain. And lots of treatments were tried and not all worked or were only temporary. Then there was the personal and professional repercussions. I had to postpone story interviews with subjects because I had a migraine, and one of the treatment options – blowing in a brown bag, supposedly to stop the pain (it didn’t work), was done around the kitchen table during a big party I held. My girlfriend who suggested that was coaching me and there were some onlookers around the table.

Which gave me lots of options for Fielding, I combined my personal experience with imagination for his migraine attack. Not a party, not a kitchen, but in the main character Dana Bowman’s bedroom. That’s all I’ll say about that scene except the cause of the migraine was the same as many of mine were – stress.

So you can use your personal health experience for one of your characters in your novel or short story. Just make sure it is worked into the plot and isn’t a tangent. And yes, Fielding’s migraine incident was part of the plot. Also, it could be a friend’s illness, but just make sure if the illness is yours or your friend’s that the character doesn’t turn into a copy of you or your friend. Use the illness as a character tag.

And next Thursday, March 24, I’ll be joining four other Crime Writers of Canada authors for a lively panel discussion and q and a about what and how we write. Here are the details:

Murder and Mayhem between the (book covers) at Gerrard/Ashdale library branch

March 24, 2016

Join five Crime Writers of Canada authors Sharon A. Crawford, Steve Shrott, Lisa de Nikolits (three mystery novelists) and Mark Eddy and Nate Hendley (both true crime authors) for a lively discussion about crime writing and their books. Sharon moderates this panel and the authors just might read a bit from their books. More information.

Location: Gerrard/Ashdale Toronto Public Library branch

1432 Gerrard St. E., Toronto

Time and Date: 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maybe I’ll see some of you there.

Cheers.

Sharon

If you click on the book cover at the top, it will take you to one place where my Beyond books area available.

 

 

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Tales – good and bad – from the book promo trenches

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood. Shane Joseph photo

Still promoting my Beyond books. But when you do this you also need to help other writers promote their books. It is only fair as we are all in this together.

And sometimes that can be fun as the photo at the left shows. Cut line explains it briefly but more on that shortly. First I need to mention the downside as other published authors may run into this, if not with this bookseller, but another one, or two.

Up to last week, my encounters with booksellers have been amicable and polite. All had said they would at least see about carrying my Beyond Blood in their store. One even opted to carry a copy of each Beyond book. A couple of others I have to follow up on but they are part of a big chain, which has been helpful at other branches, so we will see here.

Now the bad and the ugly. I have also been approaching independent bookstores, but the latest venture there has left a sour taste in my mouth. Last week I entered Ben McNally Books in downtown Toronto. I always like to check to see if they already have a copy of my book. Ben McCally Books has a weird book placement system. No books by category – no signs either at the top of the bookshelves. Mystery,science fiction are all placed in with all fiction – alphabetically by author. So be it if that is the way they want to do it – their prerogative.

I approached the owner, Ben McNally about carrying a copy of Beyond Blood. As always, I stated it is not self-published but is published by a small Canadian trade publisher and handed him my business card and now that I have more – a couple of bookmarks. He barely glanced at them and said, ” Sorry, no.” He looked about as sorry as a person arrested who shows no remorse for his crime.

Being a former journalist and naturally curious, I asked “Why?”

He said he didn’t want books by small trade publishers.

So, I three him my kicker:

“Indigo (big Canadian book chain) has them in their stores.”

Then, I turned and left the store.

And you know, there weren’t many other customers in the store. Which says something.

I went directly to the big downtown Indigo store and what a difference. Manager very interested in carrying my Beyond Blood in that Indigo store. Indigo Chapters online has carried both Beyond books from day 1 for each, including print copy and e-copy (Kobo). Also this downtown Indigo bookstore is very busy – lots of customers. Because of the positive response, I bought a book there to give as a gift to a friend.

What goes around comes around.

And that brings me to what goes with the photo at the top.

I have started doing brief skits featuring Dana Bowman, the main character in the Beyond stories. I give Dana instructions to talk about herself and to read a bit from Beyond Blood.

Dana being Dana doesn’t listen. She does talk about herself some – but connects it to talking about me, her author. Dana claims she is instrumental in writing the Beyond stories. Oh, to a certain extent. I’ve been told I’m channelling Dana. I don’t mind her talking about writing and some of my quirks – if related to writing, but she can leave my plants out of it.

And when I say to read, she needs to read from Beyond Blood. And that hair in the photo above, taken by the editor at my publishers at their fall book launch, November 21? Dana has short “boy style hair.” Now she has decided to grow it somewhat. Really?

But the skit went over well at Blue Denim Press’s book launch. I was happy to bring along a few friends and to pre-promote the book launch and the authors launching their books, Shane Joseph and Chris Canniff, including reviewing their books in the two previous posts on this blog. The launch also had a Flamenco dancer and her husband providing the music on his guitar.

The funny thing here is Michael, the husband, used to come to my East End Writers’ Group when he and Lesley lived in my area. So did Shane when he lived in Toronto. And I knew Chrit from Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch.

See, we writers are all connected, so we need to help each other.

Certain booksellers need to learn that too. Then they might get more business.

Dana Bowman will be making one more appearance before Christmas on Dec.4 and Sharon A. Crawford will have her Beyond books for sale at the Toronto Heliconian Club Art and Gift sale, Saturday, November 28. See my Gigs and Blogs page for more info.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Dana Bowman entertains at East End Writers’ Group

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Dana Bowman, the main character in my Beyond Blood novel took over my presentation spot at the East End Writers’ Group 15th anniversary last week.This is actually my writing critique group and it’s been happening in Toronto’s east end for 15th years – for 13 years at my house, then at a couple of local businesses nearby and finally from May 2014 at the S. Walter Stewart Public Library.

It was a lot of work with a lot of snafus popping up at the last minute – presenters having to cancel – all for good reasons, but I almost went batalistic when one of the two panelists on self-publishing cancelled a week before the event. Fortunately I was able to get another EEWG member with self-publishing experience to fill in and he (Steven Biggs) was awesome. So, was the other panelist (Ellen Michelson).

The presentations were divided into non-fiction, poetry and fiction. Each presenter could do whatever they wanted in their short time-slot. So we had an author interview set up as a letter and reply to and from a Toronto newspaper advice columnist. Another author, who writes opera, did a Power Point presentation (complete with music) on an opera he wrote for a company that involves the homeless in producing and presenting operas. Lots of readings.

And then there was Dana Bowman, my character. I didn’t introduce any of the fiction presenters as I was one of them. For my presentation, instead of only reading from Beyond Blood I decided to dress up like Dana (complete with short hair black wig and cap). So, when I was introduced, “Dana” ran into the room and onto the stage and made some comment that “Sharon can’t make it because an impatient client insisted on speaking to her now.”

Yes, I was channeling Dana – or that was supposed to be it, but it got to the point where well, who was channeling who. Dana completely took over.

But it got everyone’s attention, interest and some laughs.

Maybe I’m a closet actor. At any rate, I plan to take Dana on a sort of tour – well somewhat limited as I have just two  acting engagements lined up: one for Dec. 4 at a fundraiser in Toronto for Syrian refugees. I’ll be posting that shortly on my Gigs and Blogs page connected with this blog and also on my website http://www.samcraw.com.

Meantime, the next couple of postings here will feature my book reviews of a couple of other Blue Denim Press authors – Shane Joseph and Christopher Canniff – who are launching new books at 3 p.m.,  November 21 at Paintbox Bistro  in Toronto. Dana will be doing her skit here too. See below for the launch info.

If you are in the Toronto area then, you are invited to come to this launch.

Cheers.

Sharon

 

Click on Beyond Blood book cover at the top for where it is available.

 

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Transitioning the real into the reel (fiction)

 

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Sometimes we go through tremendous ordeals in our lives. Often it is because of a big change – a death in the family, relationship breakup, personal illness, or being the victim of a crime.

Writing about it is often a way to heal and tell our story to others. A journal, personal essay or even a non-fiction article encompassing the ordeal is more fact, more actual with a story (and viewpoint included).

But what if you want to fictionalize it? Do you present details and people as they happened? Do you change people’s names and some details? How can you go about it?

Authors do it several ways. You do have to be concerned with libel – especially if the fiction is more fact than fiction. An author colleague is very particular here because she ran into libel issues a couple of times in the past – no libel involved, but it can scare you and serve as a warning.

Other authors use the “based on…” line.

Some write what they want and use the “Any resemblance to living persons, etc.” disclaimer.

I am a bit liberal about my approach. For the most part I sometimes take something from my life as a basis for a story – but the characters aren’t me or whomever else appeared and the story definitely is different. For example, in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point, one story deals with two female friends who have problems with a car brake that won’t work as they drive up to the cottage. This happened to a friend and I about 30 years ago. All my friend had to contend with was the brakes failing. She used the parking brake and we were in and out of gas stations looking for a bay to get the problem fixed. That’s where truth ends. What happens in “No Breaks” is well, crime fiction.

But I do up the ante sometimes if someone has really messed up with my life. When I told this story at a recent Crime Writers of Canada reading, I could just feel the other author mentioned above cringe. (I was looking at the audience, not her, so didn’t actually see her face).

There is a way to do this. One of the characters in one of my short stories in Beyond the Tripping Point is loosely based on this real-life person – only the age is in the same decade and I saw her features, her way of dressing in my mind. But from the minimal description I gave of her, she could be any person in that age bracket fitting that description. I kept her in the same work industry but a different job. Yes, she was one of the suspects, but I won’t tell you if she was the guilty one.

A bit of background here – the person (yes a family member) objected to me writing and getting published family stories as memoir but she said I could fictionalize any of it. So, I did a variation of that.

In Beyond Blood, a couple of characters, Detective Sergean tDonald  Fielding and Great Aunt Doris Bowman are loosely on people I have known – but none of them messed up my life. The first one I liked and the second one was an interesting person. Dana Bowman, my main character, is she based on me? Not exactly. For one thing she is 25 years younger than me. True, we are both short in stature, but I made her shorter, something she is a bit peeved about. Let’s just say Dana tends to boldly go where I just might not do so.

So, it is not all cut and dry about going from real to reel. Just consider that even when your fiction has nothing to do with real life, at least any you have experienced, read about or seen, there is always somebody who will insist that a character in your story is based on them.

Usually they are wrong. Perhaps they have a latent wish to be immortalized in some way.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Click on the Beyond Blood cover at the top to find out where copies are available

 

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Creating Eccentric Fiction Characters

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Can eccentric characters come across as too eccentric? How does this affect your story?

Eccentric means “tending to act in strange or unusual ways,” according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

How strange is strange? How unusual is unusual?

Let’s take a step back. We writers don’t want wooden characters – characters who act normal and live boring lives. Often these characters are stereotypes – the police officer who drinks a lot of coffee and eats donuts, the prostitute with the heart of gold. You get the picture. Readers don’t like the stereotype, the norm. It bores them and they may stop reading the story.

So we create eccentric characters. Sometimes these eccentric characters can go off the walls and distract readers from the story. Readers may also dislike the characters. Think about some of the sit-coms currently on TV. The old Jerry Steinfield TV show had eccentric characters, but it worked. Some of today’s just don’t. Just check out the ones that don’t last more than a season or perhaps not even a season. Viewers can’t connect to the sit-com’s characters,

Think Agatha Christie for eccentric characters such as Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. When you strip away their eccentricities you find each has a core ordinary connection to living. Hercule Poirot is a private detective and Miss Marple is a meddling old lady. These are common characters in everyday life.

In my novel Beyond Blood and in my short stories in Beyond the Tripping Point I have eccentric characters. I try to keep their eccentricity not too far out there, although I do wonder about the mother in “For the Love of Wills.” However, the characters in the four linked stories who also appear in Beyond Blood are what I call distinctive eccentric characters. Each is, to borrow the hackneyed phrase, “their own person,” from the stuttering police DetectiveSergeant Donald Fielding who occasionally suffers from migraines to my meddling old lady – Great Aunt Doris. She is old-school and anything that is modern she tends to turn her nose down at – the gay twin PI Bast and his fraternal twin sister Dana’s status as working mother of a small boy.

Yes, you could say that these characteristics are often part of old ladies. So, I take these and work them in with how Doris relates with the other main characters, Dialogue plays a big part here. So does action. Doris really loves Dana’s son David and he seems to get along with her. Doris, also is the one who takes care of Madge, after her daughter Debbie is murdered. But I have added another eccentricity to Doris. She always lands on Dana, David and Bast at the most unexpected and inconvenient times. In Beyond Blood, she knocks on their door at 3 a.m. while police are there investigating a break and enter.

Bottom line with me? Create all characters as individuals – no two are alike (even the twins are different, but they are also fraternal twins, so don’t even look alike). Stay away from the stereotype; just don’t go to the opposite of extremely eccentric. You may just come up with interesting eccentric characters who work with and in your plot.

And please your readers to the point where they look forward to reading more about them and their adventures in your next book.

Cheers,

Sharon A. Crawford

Click on the Beyond Blood cover at the top to find out where copies are available.

 

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Let your fiction characters evolve

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

How relevant is your original concept of your fiction characters? You do an outline of their traits and how they act, talk, etc. Then as you write your novel something happens.

Your characters have the nerve to change. They don’t act according to your plan, your concept of them. And worse, the little devils want to take over your novel.

Excuse me. It is their novel too. Without them you don’t have a novel or at the most, you have a bare bones plot with some iffy and maybe characters.

If you remember, last week’s post dealt with guest characters wanting to take over https://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/2015/04/16/fiction-characters-who-want-to-take-over-the-story/ so let’s take that a step further. But first we have to step back. You and your friends and family did not suddenly stop changing and growing (and not just physically here) at age five, age 20 and so on. You evolve; you change; things happen.

Same with your fiction characters. As you write your novel, no matter what you put in your outline for characters and plot, something is going to change if for no other reason than the original idea, the original concept, just won’t work.

I’ll give you an example from my recently published mystery novel Beyond Blood. One of the biggies was changing the POV characters from one – private investigator Dana Bowman, PI – to also her fraternal twin and PI partner Bast Overture, Dana’s six-year old son, David, and the mysterious Him. That sure opened up the plot. It also meant getting inside four, not one, characters’ heads.

And dealing with their development, their actions and their demands. Sure it puts the writer on edge. Would this change work? Should I do this or should I do that?

I’ve found when you get to a point where you have to deviate from the original plan, it works best to write spontaneously and see what happens. Each character will invade your mind and make demands. You may not use all of what they want, but listen to them. And just write. You can make more changes later.

That’s what I do even though it means scrolling to and from different parts to fix something that doesn’t seem consistent or make sense. And I do it when my characters insist.

Remember, characters are real to you and to your readers. Just like you, your family and friends, characters evolve over time.

Let them.

And if you want to hear a bit about the point of view changes I made, I will be reading from Beyond Blood this evening when I join 15 other Crime Writers of Canada authors reading at the Arthur Ellis Short List Party. We each get three minutes to read – I can just squeeze in my two pages of Prologue – one from Him’s point of view and one from Dana’s.

After the readings all the CWC authors short-listed in the various Arthur Ellis Awards categories will be named – out loud. If you are in the Toronto or GTA area in Ontario, Canada, please join us from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Indigo Book Store in the Manulife Centre at Bay Street and Bloor Street West. It promises to be fun.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com including a link to a radio interview at http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/ Online TV interview from Liquid Lunch is at http://youtu.be/i2bBaePIWgY

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile. If you buy a  copy there, please do a review on amazon.

 

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Fiction characters who want to take over the story

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

In my Beyond mystery series, one of the main characters, Dana Bowman, often wants to be front and centre in the story. She even gets into my mind outside of writing time. I’ve posted about that before. Dana can get away with this. She’s one of the twin private investigators and it is her function to get all over the place. But what about a non-series character, a guest of one novel, who grabs the reins and insists?

In my third Beyond mystery book which I am currently writing, this is what’s happening. Without giving the plot away, there is a nun in the story who is important to the plot and as such some of the novel is her story. But she has invaded my mind and is insisting on being in almost every scene.

A little privacy, please, for the other characters and for the plot revelation. One important feature of mystery plots is that each character doesn’t have all the information; they don’t know all the plot. At the same time, putting all the information together for the reader, but at the same time having it happen throughout the story is important. Unless God is one of your main characters, each character doesn’t know it all and letting each character find out and reveal helps make for a good plot.

So, what do you do about “guest” characters trying to take over the whole novel?

  1. Acknowledge them – who they are and that they do have a purpose.
  2. Let them come into your mind and speak because if you shut them out you may lose good plot and character developments.
  3. But give them some parameters. Yes, they are important, but they are part of a whole, part of a plot.
  4. If necessary, give them timelines when it is okay to invade your mind. Not easy, but try the “not now, but (when?)” approach.
  5. Or when they invade, grab that notebook or iPad and start scribbling/typing their information. Sometimes doing something about it right away, stops the “invasion.” You can decide later whether to include it in your story.
  6. And make sure they are playing their important role in your novel. This can be done by having them be one of the novel’s point-of-view characters.

 

I know this may all sound crazy. But it is a good sign that your characters are real in the fiction sense. And that’s a good thing for your readers.

 

This evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., I get a chance to talk about developing series characters in fiction. Crime writers Rosemary McCracken (the Pat Tierney mystery fiction series), Nate Hendley (true crime) and I will be talking about writing crime – fiction and true – and getting our work published, to the Storytellers (love that name) writing group at the Angus Glen public library in Markham, Ontario, Canada. It is a Meet-up group. More information at http://www.meetup.com/The-Storytellers/events/221133884/

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

 

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com including a link to a radio interview at http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/ Online TV interview from Liquid Lunch is at http://youtu.be/i2bBaePIWgY

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile. If you buy a  copy there, please do a review on amazon.

 

 

 

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When your fiction characters get inside your head

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Are your fiction characters trying to take over your mind? Do you seem to be losing yourself in their quirks and even their talk?

Two of the main characters from my Beyond mystery fiction series (Beyond the Tripping Point, 2012 and Beyond Blood, 2014, Blue Denim Press for both) are doing this. Dana Bowman, the PI mom of six to seven-year old-David (age depending on which book) and the stuttering Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding.

Sandra Kryzakos in her Liquid Lunch interview with me says I’m channeling my characters. She bases this on how I talk about them and how I read excerpts from the books. And to add more fuel to the channelling fire, when I told her about Detective Fielding, I started to stutter and said so.

“Now, she’s channeling,” she said. (Watch this thatchannel.com interview on You Tube at http://youtu.be/i2bBaePIWgY)

Not the first time something like this has happened. Others hearing me read say I don’t read like I’m just reading but I put myself into the characters, into their heads.

Now, are Dana and Fielding getting back at me? Just kidding? Actually I welcome my characters getting into my head. Besides giving me an excuse for if and when I stumble over words, my characters are speaking to me. They give me ideas for what to write in my third Beyond book. They keep me in touch with what is happening in their lives and remind me of what is impossible. They also remind me they are distinct characters and not me.

Although I wonder about the latter. Especially when I find myself sometimes using “Dana’s big bag” to cart groceries and other purchases. For Dana this bag is her purse. To my credit I use another smaller bag as my purse. But just calling the bag “Dana’s bag,” says something. However, I still can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler and Dana is also an artist, sketching the people she interviews and incorporating the interview context into the drawing. And she drives a car and the only driving I can do is to drive people up a wall. She is also not a gardener and I am. Then there is the 25 or so year age difference. (Note: I’m the older gal here).

And of course, I don’t have a fraternal twin brother – don’t have any siblings.

So, I’ll let Dana, Detective Sergeant Fielding and whomever else I write about “invade” my mind. They have stories to tell and I need to tell their story, not mine, in the Beyond books.

Now, if I could only sort out this dream business. Dana sometimes dreams about the future (you have to read Beyond Blood to see that). I’m hoping my horrendous, sometime scary dreams, are not premonitions of my future. If so, it could be a bleak future.

Dana? What do you think?

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Maybe I’ll see you at a future gig. I post my reading and presentation gigs on the Beyond Blood page of my website www.samcraw.com. Keep checking back for updates.

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com including a link to a radio interview at http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile.

And that Liquid Lunch interview link again is http://youtu.be/i2bBaePIWgY

.

 

 

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Putting reality into fiction

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

The other evening I was teaching a workshop on Memoir Writing – not exactly fiction, but memoir reads like fiction. A participant said she was scared to name names of family members and wanted to know how to get around this.

You can turn the memoir into fiction – this has been done before. Or use pseudonyms with a disclaimer. Or be scrupulous about what you include.

Or you can do what I did after a confrontation with a relative who definitely didn’t want something in the family background getting published. The excuse was she didn’t want her children reading about it. However, she was okay with it all being fictionalized.

So I listened to her, although maybe not exactly as she meant it. In my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press. 2012), one story is based on something that happened in my family – although except for the central event, all the characters have been changed and so have the circumstances. However, I was so ticked off with her attitude that I loosely based one of the suspects in one of the stories on her. I changed the details but when I see this character I see the complaining relative.

As for the memoir chapter she was complaining about – I did remove it – and several other chapters because at the same time another author and I did a manuscript evaluation exchange. He said I had three stories going on in the memoir – family history, some other history, and my personal story. My personal story was more interesting – so that was the new focus.

In my mystery novel Beyond Blood (Blue Denim Press 2014), I don’t use any stories from the original memoir, although Great Aunt Doris is very loosely based on an eccentric aunt (now deceased). However, the eccentricities are different as are Aunt Doris’ actions and role. The only similarities, if you will, are the two are eccentric and both are aunts.

However, I did use something in my past as fodder and then used my imagination to expand from there. The business with the raccoons. Racoons got into the attic of my house in Aurora and that was the real life starting point. But I assure you, except for racoons on the roof, anything else with racoons that happens in Beyond Blood never happened in real life, mine at least.

The bottom line is to use something real as the catalyst, the gem for an idea or character. Because you need to be careful here. How often have readers said that a character reminds them of so-and-so or the character is so-and-so? Usually this is not the reality.

But it is an indication that your story, your characters are resonating with your readers.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond book series. See http://www.samcraw.com and http://www.bluedenimpress.com for more info. Book at top of this post links to my Amazon author profile.

To watch my interview on Liquid Lunch on thatchannel.com go to Go to http://youtu.be/i2bBaePIWgY and enjoy.

 

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Dana Bowman interviews author Sharon A Crawford

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

I suppose all fictional characters, especially in adventure or heroic fiction, at the end of the day are our dreams about ourselves. And sometimes they can be really revealing.

  • Alan Moore

Dana Bowman sits before me, sketch pad and charcoal in hand. She is going to give me the third-degree interview.

Dana: I understand you and my brother Bast share a career background.

Me: Journalistic, yes. I am a former journalist for 30 years, so a bit longer than your twin. I did write a few crime-related articles but my beats were the arts, health, seniors, and profiles of all kinds of people.

Dana: How and why did you switch from journalism to mystery fiction?

Me: That’s really two questions. First, the journalism one – it wasn’t really a switch. I just got tired of all the work for newspaper and magazine stories for little pay. Guess I ran out of steam but I am still interested in people and writing their stories, so profiles aren’t off the table completely.

Dana: But why mystery fiction?

Me: Because that’s what I like to read and watch on TV. I grew up with Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and from age 12, Agatha Christie. And my late mom and I used to watch the Perry Mason TV series – the original one in black and white. From all that I got hooked on the puzzle – why people do what they do, why it brings them to murder and who the heck is the guilty party. I also have a sense of justice – people who do the crime should do the time – in one way or another. That doesn’t seem to be happening anymore in real life, even back in your days in the late 1990s.

Dana: As Bast would say, let the record show, that Sharon is referring to the timelines in Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. So, Sharon, can you tell us how you, well created Bast and I? Are you and I similar in any way?

Me: That’s two questions again. I see that’s how you operate.

Dana: You started it all.

Me: Right.

Dana: How are we similar? Especially with our height.

Me: Yes, you and I are shorties, but I have a couple of inches on you.

Dana: Why did you make me 4’11”? Couldn’t you have brought me up to 5 feet at least?

Me: Too close to me. Actually the idea of both yours and Bast’s height came from an aunt and uncle on my dad’s side. Aunt Marguerite was 4’ll” and Uncle Miles was 6’2” But I did give Bast an inch. But I gave you some qualities and traits I don’t have. You own and drive a car. I couldn’t drive a car to save my life.

Dana: Would you want to?

Me: Very occasionally but seldom. I know I would be guilty of roadkill, so it’s safer if I’m never behind the wheel of a car. Also you have a cell phone and I don’t. Sure, it would come in handy in emergencies but cell phone technology is a whole lot more complicated in 2014 than in the late 1990s. And I gave you the gift of being able to draw because I can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler.

Dana: A little jealousy here?

Me. Maybe, but I wanted you different than I. And you and your brother evolved over 15 or 16 years of on and off writing, now definitely in the on stage.

Dana: And Bast? Why did you make him gay?

Me: Because when I first started writing Beyond Blood back in the late 1990s, gay people were just coming out more. The annual Pride parade was just starting up in Toronto. And I wanted a character that was different than what was being published. I know there are now gay (male and female) mystery characters, but how many of them are a fraternal twin?

Dana: True. What about my son David? Where did he come from?

Me: Well, I do have a son, who is now in his mid-thirties and I too was a single parent, so I suppose some of that originated there. And I had issues with being a working mom and wanted to bring that out in the stories.

Dana: Okay. Now, moving along. You mentioned that you want justice done in this world. Is there anything in your background, particularly when growing up, that made you feel this way?

Me: Several things. I was bullied as a child by both one of my best friends and also by a nun in grade school. Never beaten up – it was more verbal. Also I read a lot in the newspapers about 11 and 12-year-old girls getting murdered and that really upset me. I was the same age then. You have to remember this was around 1960 when things were supposedly stricter. Well, they were at school and church – I grew up a Catholic and so there was this belief in the bad being punished for their bad deeds, even an eye for an eye. So, if you killed someone, you deserved to die. But Canadian justice seemed to be getting too liberal. Many convicted murderers were getting their executions (hanging in Canada back then) stayed. I remember in grade 11 at high school class discussion on capital punishment – it was around the time that the government was considering dropping the hanging sentence. I was one of the few in the class who wanted Canada to keep the death penalty. We all know that didn’t happen and a lot of the criminal law got too much in favour of the criminals since then. Sure, some harsh sentences remain, but the convicted killers get jail credit for time spent in prison leading up to and during the trial. The bottom line is I don’t think justice for the victim is being given. But in a mystery novel you can have this happen – one way or the other – even with any lenient laws.

Dana: Wow. That sounds familiar. That’s me; that’s how I feel. And now understand better why I do what I do.

Me: Well, remember I may have created you, but you go out on your own in my stories.

Dana: Oh, so you give me enough rope to hang…. sorry, bad choice of words.

Me: Right. We don’t want you getting killed. It would kill the stories.

Dana: Of course. And I thought it was because you like me.

Me: I do.

Dana: Okay, that’s it for this time. Bast wants to interview you next week.

Meantime click on my book cover above – it will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

 

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