A couple of weeks ago, the lovely Jane Risdon, a brilliant author and blogger among her many talents, was kind enough to invite me as a guest author on her blog to talk about my latest work. In case you missed it, here is part of my article. You can read the full post, including a short extract from my next book, on Jane’s blog where any comment would be appreciated.
When a Minor Character Becomes the Lead
Writers and authors often liken their writing to being on a journey. Indeed, most stories are one when we consider the planning, preparation, and amount of research undertaken before the start. Once embarked on the writing process itself, various routes and paths are then taken – some planned, others creating diversions – before finally reaching the destination and a satisfactory ending. Some of those detours can lead to unexpected and exciting discoveries, such as I found after writing my novel White Stones. It started last year following its publication.
For me, White Stones was to be a one-off story. One full of mystery, a little romance, a woman haunted by a piece of music and an element of time-slipping. When the book reached its final paragraph, the main characters had had their stories told. The End. However, once reviews and comments came in, I realised there was one person in that novel whose story was incomplete: that of Filton Shields. A minor character, he played a part in the book reaching its conclusion but my readers wanted to know much more about him. Many suggested, nay pleaded with me to write a series involving him. It seemed Filton Shields had become such a fascinating character he had, for them, become the main focus of the story.
And here came the conundrum. My next novel was already complete: a timeslip set in Greece entitled When Two Worlds Collide. The story centres on Fliss, recently settled on one of its islands, fulfilling her dream of starting a new life there, but the dream soon turns into a nightmare when she finds herself slipping back to Ancient Greece. Each slip heralds more and more dangerous situations, her life under threat in both worlds. Scheduled for editing with publication planned for late 2020, how on earth could I bring in a new character at this late stage, let alone make him the lead?
As one always willing to accept a challenge, I set out to do just that. At first, writing him in was easy but as this major detour progressed, I found it more and more difficult to weave Filton’s specialist persona along with his history, thoughts, perceptions, reactions and desires into a story already written. An archaeologist by profession, he much prefers solving mysteries and unexplained phenomena, be it UFOs, unusual lights, strange creatures, people or things disappearing, and hauntings. He believes every strange occurrence has a logical, rational and reasoned answer, and thus far he’s never been wrong, so how could he come up with a scientific interpretation for time travel. I couldn’t make it work, and it certainly wasn’t for the want of trying. Finding no resolution, I stripped him out again.
Many sleepless nights followed, and days spent trying to figure out the right road to take. The answer came during a brainstorming Zoom meeting with a friend who knew where I was coming from and where I needed to be. Perfect! (Thank you, Faye.) So Filton Shields was once again wending his way into Fliss’s story.
At the moment, I am still travelling on this long and winding road. It is not the journey I had planned. Nor am I at the end yet, for there are still problems to solve along the way before reaching my required stop. There are scene shifts to make, reordering of events to sort out. Dialogue altered. Pages and pages of rewriting, new writing inserted. But Filton and I are getting there, despite its bad moments, especially those of self-doubt we writers all experience at one stage or another. At times frustrating, annoying, even some hair-pulling but I am enjoying the ride and will not give up on him. I can’t, because having committed myself thus far, along with the extra hours delving into research and the science of time, Filton Shields is determined to have this episode of his story released in Spring 2021, with another partially written unexplained phenomenon waiting to be resolved. Who knows where that journey may take him? Or me.
Don’t forget, if you’d like to write a Guest Post for Kit Library on any book or writing-related topic, please contact me. I would love to hear from you