Yesterday I visited fellow writer, the very talented romantic novelist, Lynne Shelby, to talk about my characters’ survival rate, and about emotional attachments between authors and their creations.
Click here to read that post with links and images, or carry on reading below:
Crime writers are adept and often merciless when it comes to body count. Murder is the name of the game. Death rules supreme. But even the most barbaric crime writers struggle to kill off their heroes at the end of the story. The mystery may be solved, the culprit apprehended and the balance between good and evil restored. And although we do write THE END when it’s all done and dusted, we can’t always bring ourselves to say farewell to our characters. Thus, we resort to serialising crime.
Readers, just like writers, form relationships with characters too. I have my favourite fictional detectives, Hercule Poirot, Wexford, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Raisin, to mention a handful. I enjoy meeting them again and again. In the end, crime fiction isn’t just about solving crime. It’s also about continuity, familiarity and shared values. It is about restoring law and order in the community. And communities are made up of characters. Those pesky characters come to life and get under our skin. We try to understand them. We worry about them, get angry with them and love them to bits. Both as writers and readers. We are, after all, human, whether we’re fiction or real.
Anyway, where does reality end and fiction begin? Fictional characters are reflections of real people. Some of them are our self-portraits, often distorted or embellished, but still recognisable. Others are snapshots of people we know or have known – people who left lasting impressions on us. Some of our characters are collages of ourselves and those around us – our mini-me Frankensteins. They are constructs of our observations, likes and dislikes, fears and memories. Once we’ve put them together and breathed life into them, they go out into the world, make new friends and new enemies, and take on a life of their own. It’s hard to kill them just because we have reached the end of a story.
It is for that reason that I write series. My DI Gillian Marsh crime series is now on its fifth instalment. A Conspiracy of Silence (Headline Accent) will be published on 15th October. Much has changed in Gillian’s personal life since she first hit the pages of the series in 2016. And she isn’t finished yet. Life goes on for her as it does for all of us. I tried to terminate Gillian and move on. But in typical Gillian fashion, she was having none of it and forced her way into my new cosy crime mysteries, The Shires, and will make cameo appearances there alongside a brand-new cast of characters. I just couldn’t bring myself to let her go, even though she is not an easy woman to get on with. She is a terror.
In my debut novel Life Without Me (Headline Accent), I created an ensemble of characters whose lives were interlocked with one another in a network of official and secretive relationships, dependencies and hostilities. And even though some of those characters died in the story and others vanished from the scene, I was unable to let them rest in peace. Although it has been more than five years since I wrote Life Without Me, I have since written more stories revolving around some of the characters from that book. My dystopian novel, The End of the Road (Crooked Cat/darkstroke) features Tony, an enigmatic lawyer who was the rival, lover and avenger of my heroine Georgie Ibsen in Life Without Me. The End of the Road launched yesterday. Another character from Life Without Me, the heroine’s sister Paula also lives on (in a manner of speaking) in her own story, Paula Goes to Heaven. I am working on it at the moment. All in all, there is no rest for the wicked and they all have to earn their crust.
The End of the Road blurb:
The fight for survival has begun.
All-out war spins out of control, and it doesn’t discriminate. Governments fall, continents are obliterated, deadly viruses consume everything in their path, and what’s left of humanity is on the run. Caught in this global refugee crisis are a few unlikely survivors.
Tony, a philandering London lawyer, escapes the doomed city and his own murky past as he evacuates to the continent.
A hapless flock of Belgian nuns prays for a miracle as they watch their city turn to rubble.
Bella, a naïve teenager, thinks she is going on holiday when her father drags her across the globe to New Zealand.
Reggie, a loyal employee of a mining corporation, guards a hoard of diamonds in the African plains, fending off desperate looters.
Alyosha, a nuclear scientist, has been looking for the God-particle in Siberia, but now the world is at an end, he wishes to return home to Chernobyl.
A pair of orphaned children are cowering in the Tatra Mountains, fearing the sky will fall in on them.
Will they find an escape route before it is too late? Or are they doomed to fail?
Life Without Me blurb:
A darkly and brilliantly funny look at what being a fly on the wall is really like, Life Without Me is Anna Legat’s debut novel.
Georgie Ibsen is a successful, cynical, forty-something hotshot lawyer. She runs her life, professional and personal, with precision and clear purpose. She’s just made a breakthrough in a crucial case, her family is growing more independent … things couldn’t be better.
Until it all comes to a screeching halt when she’s involved in a hit-and-run and ends up in a coma.
Somehow, in her comatose state, Georgie is given unique glimpses into the lives of her nearest and dearest, their most intimate secrets: her boring husband’s intense involvement with a colleague; her son’s lovelorn yearning for his mother’s nurse; her fifteen-year-old daughter’s bad boy boyfriend, who just might be linked to the criminal mastermind involved in her last big case…
Throw in a neurotic actress sister, a senile mother with a traumatic past, and a smug subordinate barrister who’s out to ruin her case in her absence…oh, and a sex-god lawyer extraordinaire who’s a deeply troubled soul with a penchant for some unsavoury practices…although Georgie is out of action, life certainly isn’t boring without her.
To link to my Author profile where both books can be found click here