Suffering Characters and Scheming Writers
Writers have a special relationship with the characters they create. It is a relationship so distinct from what you’d have with an actual person that it really deserves its own word. It’s a mixture of affection and obsession, devotion and domination.
Writers construct every detail of each character’s emotional and physical world: what they look like and where they live, who they adore and who they hate, what gives them hope and what keeps them awake late into the night. Writers control whether the character has a shiny sports car or an unreliable beater that just might break down when they need to get to the hospital. Writers decide if a character chews gum or tobacco, cusses or corrects grammar, goes for a jog on Sunday mornings or goes to church.
Characters are lovingly molded out of those numerous, tiny decisions that a writer makes. Some of the decisions come easy and others can only be made after hours of research. With enough work, a character can feel more real to the writer than her own brother. After all, a writer may spend more time each day in this fictional world with her fictional characters than she spends in the actual world with real humans.
But, this is where the relationship goes awry: a writer’s concerns are, first, to build believable characters, and then, to make their (fictional) lives absolute hell. Good writers strive to be their character’s worst nemesis. They make the character trip and drop his car key down the storm drain just as the axe-wielding serial killer runs up. They convince a character’s boss to fire him just before his child gets hit by a speeding maglev train. They let a nasty creep of a neighbor transform the character’s cat into a cyborg.
A writer derives a special glee over manufacturing misunderstandings and mayhem. Characters lie and are lied to, steal and are stolen from. They are driven to the point of losing hope, forced to face their deepest fears, and hounded with heartbreak until they almost give up.
And, then, of course, the writer gets to feel all heroic saving the day by helping the character out of the jam that the writer’s sick imagination created in the first place. It is such an unhealthy relationship but so appealing. To have control over a world and the people in it, to create tragedy and then conjure up the magic of a happy, hope-filled ending. That is why we write. If only we could have that power in the real world.
When agoraphobic Gabe and his outgoing nemesis Jessa go on a moonlit road trip to locate Gabe’s missing brother, the two teens discover they are both hiding unnatural abilities: Gabe is a living lie detector and Jessa is a kick-ass powerhouse pretending to be a delicate diva.
Gabe’s sole reason for searching for Watts, his overbearing younger brother, is to clear his own name: he’s been framed for Watts’ alleged murder. Jessa is after Watts because she is, well, after him.
They find him with Deacon, the twisted eugenicist responsible for their unusual powers. He encourages them to stay and join his “Family” where they’ll be able to live openly as the genetically-modified freaks that they are. When Jessa and Gabe uncover the truth about Deacon’s past–and what he wants for the future–they band together to stop him. Watts, however, might have other plans . . .
Nola Decker is the only writer in Seattle who doesn’t drink coffee. She makes up for her happy and healthy childhood by writing stories in which terrible things happen to young people. She loves salted caramel anything and Fridays.
Twitter handle: @nola_decker
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8178025.Nola_Decker
Amazon page link: http://amzn.com/B00JND06LI