Characters (or ‘Why won’t you do what I want!?’)

*Spoiler squirrel alert for those who haven’t read The Other Whisper*

When I was just a reader (Because that’s what we all are really, readers and writers. More should be writers. Go write something, but read this first), I was always surprised by authors who said that their characters had a mind of their own and would often take over the plot. I thought

“How can a creation of your imagination do that, surely you just write what you want?”

I also thought

“Are all these hugely successful writers just taking a whole bunch of drugs? Is that what I’m missing?”

Then I met Miranda. Funny story, I didn’t create Miranda, or at least, not intentionally. My wife was reading some of the early drafts and she asked me a simple question.

“Why are there no females in your book?”

I explained that there were, Eoin’s mum was right there, but apparently that wasn’t enough. What she was asking was, where is the emotional connection. There was no one for Eoin to bond with, so unless I wanted him to be gay (Which would be totally fine and would have been an interesting way to go with it.) there really should be a girl.

So I wrote Miranda as this crazy quirky girl to have in the background for Eoin to identify with and want to help. And in my mind, Miranda woke up, looked around her, squealed “Oh Plot!” and started playing jump rope with it. She changed the course of the entire novel, became pivotal to the entire story and is most fans favourite character.

So important is she to the story, that yes, it is indeed Miranda who’s on the front cover. I’ve grown to love Miranda now, and her refusal to do things my way, because I feel it helps make the book interesting. The plot twists and turns and goes in crazy directions, there is no way to tell which way it’s going to go because, to be honest, while writing it, I had no idea which way it was going to go, but Miranda did.

Every time a tricky situation came up, I could hear her voice in my head explaining how the path was simple, even if sometimes it involved walking through things.

So yes, my characters can be out of control, and sometimes I think they steer my writing more than I do. And I wouldn’t have them any other way.

Te Other Whisper Book Cover

Miranda on book cover

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