About a month ago, a reader on Facebook, Sonya (thank you, Sonya!!), asked me if I’d known where all the characters would go when I wrote The Gauguin Connection – the first book. It’s such a good question that I made a note to post about it when I finished writing book 7 and had a little rest. Well, book 7 is done and I feel rested. 🙂
Let’s start right at the very, very beginning. When I created Genevieve’s world in my head, there was no story yet, but I had Genevieve, Colin and Manny’s characters. Phillip was also there, but in a much smaller capacity. Then I planned The Gauguin Connection. Somewhere around chapter 10, this big, loud bouncer of a man stormed into my planning and into the book. Vinnie. Good, I thought. He would be Colin’s sidekick and would disappear after a chapter or so. Well, 7 books later and Vinnie (and his cooking) is not going anywhere. He’s worked his way deep into the story and into my heart.
At the end of The Gauguin Connection, Francine made a brief appearance. She was also only going to be once-off character. Then The Dante Connection happened. The very first line was Francine’s and she established herself in the storyline. She is Genevieve’s ‘bestest’ friend and even has her own book (that’s being edited as we speak – woohoo!).
And then there’s Nikki. Isn’t she just the sweetest thing! Every time I write a scene with her in it, I smile and go all gooey inside. I love how open and loving she is and that she has them all wrapped around her little finger. She was also only supposed to make a quick appearance. But that scene in the conference room when she cried on Genevieve’s shoulder… well, that brought a connection for me that I couldn’t let go. I knew Genevieve would face a huge challenge with Nikki in her life. Again it would be great for the team dynamic, conflict and Genevieve’s personal development. Nikki stayed in the story and in Genevieve’s apartment.
Now that I think about it, I realise that I fell in love with these characters and didn’t want to let them go. I also saw the value they brought to the team dynamic and having them in Genevieve’s life could cause great conflict—which is always good for a story.
This is a veeeerrry long answer to Sonya’s question. The short answer: No, I didn’t know where all the characters were going when I brought them in. I also don’t know which future characters might come, go or stay. On an emotional level, I have to connect to them. On a writerly level, they have to add to the dynamics of the stories and the other characters.
Which brings me to Caelan. His was not an easy character to write. The Courbet Connection was also the most difficult book I’d written. The topic was greatly disturbing, but it was a story that needed to be told. When I wrote Caelan into the book, I wondered if people would love or hate him. Someone told me she wanted to throw her e-reader against the wall a few times in frustration with him. I wasn’t surprised. He was a bit much.
But many more people loved Caelan. I’ve been asked numerous times when he would be back and I honestly don’t know. I don’t want to bore you with all my thoughts about the why’s, but I promise that if ever the story needs Caelan’s special energy and all those geographical facts, he’ll be back.
It’s hard to imagine Genevieve’s life without Vinnie, Francine and Nikki. I, for one, am happy that they stormed into my planning and refused to leave.