Characters: A Love-Hate Relationship

(IMPORTANT NOTE! This post first appeared on My Bookish Ways, the blog of the lovely Kristin Centorcelli, friend of the League. This May and June, Kristin and Candace of Candace's Book Blog will be hosting a reader's extravaganza with lots of prizes, including the newest titles from Leaguers Jaye Wells, Allison Pang, and some crazy chick whose initials are S.B. -- so don't miss it!)

I have a confession for you: sometimes, I really hate my characters.

Not all the time, mind you. This is a special, specific kind of hate – it usually crops up sometime around chapter 5 or 6 in my writing process, when the excitement of beginning a new story has ground to a halt, and suddenly, my characters are just standing there looking at me, saying, “Now what?”

This shouldn’t be a problem. I’m the creator, and all I’m supposed to do is decide that now it’s time for *this* to happen, and it does. I type a few words and off things go, just the way I want them to, in interesting and compelling directions.

Only when it comes to the middle of the story, this Does Not Happen.

What happens is something like this:

Me: All right. Now that you’ve managed to escape from the first bunch of villains and run into a mysterious monk, who’s actually an evil djinn, you’re going to take him home with you and—

Donatti: Screw you.

Me: ...fwuh?

Donatti: You’re doing it wrong. See, this guy should be dead right now. Ian would kill him as soon as he saw him.

Ian: That is correct. Excuse me, I have a monk to murder.

Me: Hold it! I need him. He’s a major character in this story. You can’t just—

Ian: He is, as you humans say, toast.

Me: Don’t even think about it. I told you, I... wait a second. Ha! You don’t have his tether. You can’t kill him.

Ian: Watch me.

Donatti: No, she’s right. But there’s no way in hell we’re bringing him home.

Jazz: Damn straight you’re not.

Me: Jazz, you’re not even IN this scene!

Jazz: Well, I should be. You just don’t like female characters.

Me: That is so not true. It’s just that Donatti’s the main character, and this is in first person, so he gets more page-time.

Robert Gray: I should be the main character. I’m more interesting.

Me (and everyone else): Who the hell are you?

Robert Gray: You cut me out of the first book. Remember?

Donatti (under his breath): Yeah, there was a reason for that...

Me: Will you all just behave and do what I tell you to? I’m in charge here!


Of course, this doesn’t really happen. I’m not crazy enough (yet) to believe my characters have somehow acquired minds of their own, and are carrying on somewhere without my input or knowledge. I’m sure there’s some fancy, scientific explanation about the subconscious mind, the id and the ego, the complex intricacies of the human imagination and the way neurons fire in the brain.

But I’m not a scientist. I’m just a writer, with characters that refuse to behave.

Fortunately, they’re usually right, and I end up loving them again – it just takes me a while to see that.

(And if I ever go missing, please check the trunk of Donatti’s car.)


In other exciting news, my sequel, Master and Apprentice, will be out in just a few weeks -- March 29, 2011. Here's what it's all about:


A deadly cult. An unbreakable curse. The rules are simple: learn to kill... or die.

When stealing’s your only talent, it isn’t easy being a retired thief. Especially when you’ve graduated from thief to killer—and your partner doesn’t care if you die along with your targets.

Luck has never been on Gavyn Donatti’s side. Anyone else with magic abilities inherited from a distant genie relative would have it made, but not Donatti, descendant of a cranky, shape-shifting genie named Ian. The prince of a murdered kingdom, consumed with revenge and driven by an unbreakable curse, Ian is determined to hunt down and destroy every last one of his enemies in the power-hungry snake clan—at any cost, including his life. Or Donatti’s.

Obsessed by his own rage, Ian has never really taught Donatti how to use his abilities. So when a powerful cult of magic-users captures Ian’s wife, the princess Akila, and then Ian himself, the thief is left alone to take on dozens of half-djinn and their mysterious leader with designs on world domination.

Facing an impossible mission, Donatti is forced to turn to an enemy for help—one who claims to know how to unlock the thief’s true potential. Trusting a snake might be the last mistake Donatti ever makes—but if he doesn’t learn to wield the power inside him, everyone will pay the ultimate price.


You can
read a preview here!


Mario Acevedo said…
My characters trunk me all the time. Why do they think they're in charge?
Sonya said…
LOL - good question, Mario. :-)

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