Did I know?

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.


26 thoughts on “Did I know?

  1. I, too, agree that Genevieve, Colin,Vinnie,Manny ,Francine and Nikki are central to all stories. I also love Daniel and Pink. Of course they are the supporting cast to ‘Jenny’s character but are equally stand alone. In my mind anyone or vehicle that can explain/educate and, indeed entertain us about autism is worthy. But I find I care about these characters which is due, of course, to your skill. Thank you. Please keep the stories coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Beverly! Yes, Pink and Daniel also deserve a mention. Daniel is beginning to grow on me. Who knows what his role might be in a future book.


  2. I loved the challenge that Caelan brought to the team, and how it made Genevieve remind the gang that they had been patient with her in her less than usual behaviours. I loved seeing how the others responded to him and how they ‘grew’ with him in their lives. I also appreciated that you didn’t let him take over the story as he easily could have done. You kept him in without letting him dominate which worked beautifully well for the story dynamic. Great balancing act!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I enjoy all the characters. Having worked with people with developmental disabilities for over 30 years, I enjoy seeing your main character fumble her way through life with the help of her friends. In my field, we call those friends “natural supports” and these are the people that make the job easier for the person with disabilities. Everyone wonders if the person with autism, Down’s Syndrome, and other afflictions can do the job when what we really need to focus on is will they have the natural supports to help them do the job. The job part is easy, keeping the job is the tough part. I think your books do a great job of reminding readers of that.

    By the way, Caelan’s character is spot-on. He’s aggravating but enjoyable.

    I know I’ve mentioned this before (on Goodreads) but I love reading your books. I feel like family every time I start a new one. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Monica! So many wise words in your comment – if only more people would have the courage to be ‘natural supports’.
      People like you, working in this field, are the true heroes! Thank you.


  4. From the first book until now, Genevieve went from spending most of her time alone, to having this wonderful family. They have ups and downs, but they’re a real, if unorthodox, family. I see Manny as a father figure to Genevieve, Vinnie and Francine as siblings or best friends, Colin, her boyfriend, and now Nikki as daughter.

    As much as I enjoy the mysteries in each book, I love to see the evolution of characters and their relationships. Thank you, Estelle!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love all these characters and their stories. It’s fun to watch the characters and the relationships they have developed. I so enjoy reading your books. I love the challenges and the problem solving in which the entire team engages. Thanks for sharing your character “map.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad all of the hcaracters have made their home in the series. Even Caelan. He’s good for Genevieve, teaching her how to deal with him wihtout going over the edge. Nikki is a sweetheart and reading about her adjusting to a new and better life is great. Thanks for creating such a wonderful series and remarkable characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It has been quite a while since I enjoyed books this much. I have read a number of books, many of them memorable, but rarely do I ever come across characters that I actually care about. Sometimes I have to remind myself that they aren’t real, because in my mind, I just want to text them and ask about things. I giggle whenever Manny calls Francine “Supermodel”, and of course, I’m madly in love with Colin & Genevieve.

    I started the most recent book thinking that I could make it last a while longer. I started off slowly – and when I got to 30% on my kindle, I lost all self control (and sleep!). I just could not stop. I love that you have the Mozart pieces and art on the website – it makes things so much more interesting and fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. Rochelle!! Seriously, you don’t know how much I treasure the knowledge that someone else enjoys the gang as much as I do. 🙂


  8. Dear Estelle,
    “Light It Up Blue” raised great awareness here in Pittsburgh. Our hockey team (Pittsburgh Penguins) flashed the ice blue during intermissions. Our Coach wore the blue puzzle piece on his lapel which prompted fans to ask, “what’s with the puzzle piece?” One
    of our goalies has the puzzle piece on the back of his helmet for every game as his girlfriend’s niece is on the spectrum.
    So glad you are rested and book 7 is being edited. I am so looking forward to seeing where your wonderful characters lead you and us.
    I love that your mind is letting the ‘gang’ take us on such an amazing journey.
    Hope you are well and enjoying some rest.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Melanie! Yes, it is so important to create more awareness. How wonderful of the goalie to have that puzzle piece on his helmet.


  9. I have been interested in the workings of the autistic mind since reading “I Was Born on a Blue Day.” Your books provide a window into the thought process of someone on the spectrum and I find each novel and the character development fascinating. Your novels have opened my mind to the beauty of all our differences. Each difference makes us more, not less as an individual. Thank you so much! I truly can’t wait until book 7 is released. I think I may go back and read 1-6 again, since I find that I miss all the characters! ☺️ I flew through them the first time since I just couldn’t stop until I was finished. This time maybe I’ll be able to savor each book.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your last three books I held onto for several weeks each because I didn’t want to read the book and then have to wait. I promised myself I would take my time reading each one. But that is impossible — once I start I have to keep going. You have created great characters who like real people. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Just read this update on where you saw your characters going in the beginning. I am glad that you mentioned Caelan. I too would like to know what happened to him. Did Francine’s special time with him help him to see the need for better hygiene and clothes? Did he ever form a lasting, healthy bond with anyone who understands him? Is he supporting himself? What skills has he gained? What brilliant things are he using his amazing mind to accomplish? Did he ever get comfortable with other foods? Did he get a dog or cat for company? It seemed like the group somewhat understood him and had empathy for him, as well as wanted to help him, so I expected them to keep tabs on him. I do hope that you will update us one what he has been doing.


    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am at the end of book 4. I discovered the series only a week or two ago.. The first book was free and hooked me. I love the complexity of Genevieve and the growing relationship between her and Colon. Nicky adds a new dimension and is a sweetheart. Francis bugs me some with her constant teasing with Manny and constantly saying “girlfriend.” I would like her to give him some breathing room or for the relationship to grow. Overall, I love the series and I am sure I won’t stop reading until I have read them all and am waiting for your next book.

    Liked by 1 person

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