Critters at the Keyboard
The Nun & the Narc by Catherine Castle
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Some words on
Creating Unique Characters
By Catherine Castle
I’ve done quite a few author interviews and one of the questions I keep running into is how do you create your characters? Inquiring minds want to know:
· How did you come up with the names for your characters?
· Do your characters look like real people?
· Where do you find inspiration for your characters’ habits, hang-ups and fears?
· Are your characters a thinly disguised version of you or someone you know?
· Do your characters like the same things as you?
The simple answers to these questions are yes, no, and everywhere.
Every writer has his or her own way of creating characters. For me, it’s a mix of things. I take a little bit of me, a little bit of someone I know, a little bit of something I’d like to be, a few traits that my character needs in order to do certain things, a fatal flaw, real or imagined, that is going to cause big trouble for my character, find some humorous element I can use with them, and I roll everything together into a unique character who has his or her own personality.
Sometimes the addition of personality traits is a subconscious process. I don’t even realize that I’m including something about me, or someone I know, until the character is on the page saying, “I hate_____”, or I find them scrubbing the kitchen furiously in times of sorrow. Other times I set out to create a specific behavior quirk for my character and I have to twist things until they fit.
Since I’ve been asked several times about how I created the characters for this book, I thought I’dgive readers a peek into Sister Margaret Mary and the inspirations behind her creation.
I am not a nun, nor have I ever been a novice. But Sister Margaret Mary, the heroine of my book The Nun and the Narc, is a novice. To create her nun side I had to do research, but to create her quirks and personality I drew from other places, some places that I know well.
Here are the answers to the questions above about how I found inspiration for my feisty heroine, Sister Margaret Mary, affectionately known to the hero as Maggie.
· Is she named after a real person? Nope. I just happen to love alliteration. If you haven’t figured that out yet, by my pen name, the title of the book, and the heroine’s name, you haven’t been paying attention. In fact, I originally named the good sister Mary Margaret, but Jed kept calling her Maggie, so I changed her name. Sometimes it’s wise to listen to your characters when they speak to you.
· Does Sister Margaret look like anyone I know? Yes and no. She’s a redhead. I have redheaded nieces and a redheaded nephew, but that’s as far as her resemblance to them goes. She’s also the same height as me, but that’s as far as our resemblance goes, too.
· Where did I find Sister Margaret’s hang-ups and fears? I drew a bit on myself for this one. Sister Margaret and I both hate granddaddy longleggers. You’ve seen them I’m sure—those oversized, gangly arachnid looking bugs that hang around under picnic tables. Like Sister Margaret, I can chase and stomp on most any bug, roaches included. I will pick up tomato hornworms, earthworms, smack mosquitoes silly, and scoop up and dispose of most creepy crawlers. But don’t put me anywhere near a granddaddy longlegger. Those gawky, spider-like bugs freak me out. Sister Margaret hates them, too, and Jed finds this out when he’s trapped in a dirt hidey hole with her.
· Is Maggie a thinly veiled version of me? Hardly. I’m not nearly as brave as she is, and I love my creature comforts, like air conditioning, way too much to go to a tropical climate and do physical work. We do, however, both love the Lord and we have empathy for others. As for being a replica of someone I know, it’s not wise to pattern your character exactly like someone else. There’s always the risk they will recognize themselves in your book and be upset instead of flattered.
· Does the good sister like the same things as me? Not really. She’s much more adventurous. Using the example of the contestants of the reality show The Amazing Race, who have to constantly do things they normally wouldn’t do in order to win, I pushed my character way beyond my comfort zone. The adventurous novice easily chomps down on a skewer of chapalines for brunch when she misses breakfast. You won’t see me eating exotic, exoskeletoned cuisine that I would normally step on, no matter how much chili powder and grease they are cooked in. Alligator is my limit, and it doesn’t agree with me.
Creating character personality traits is easier than you might think. Just look around. A snapshot of something striking, a look, a word, an emotion, the spoken phrase are all fodder for your story and can help you create unique characters readers will love. Like the tee shirt my daughter gave me for Christmas says, Watch out or I’ll put you in my novel.
What about you? Do you have a trick you use to create your characters?
The Nun & the Narc Blurb
Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.
Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what
Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.
Please enjoy this excerpt
Margaret inched forward, hoping to hear what they were saying. A mariachi band nearby blared out a tune, the polka-like melody destroying any hope of eavesdropping. The shriek of off-key brass sent chills up her spine. She covered her ears and moved closer to Rafael and the stranger.
After a couple of minutes of conversation, the man removed an envelope from his jacket and pulled out a handful of bills. He folded them in half and then slipped them into Rafael’s extended hand. With a furtive glance around, Rafael moved closer to the man, blocking Margaret’s direct view, and handed something to the stranger.
A wave of apprehension swept over Margaret. The chapulines she’d snacked on earlier that morning threatened to see the light of day.
A drug deal! Of all the things Rafael could do, this was the worst.
Esperanza had fought so hard to keep her son away from bad influences. Now he appeared to be involved in the very thing she’d hated most. Margaret imagined Esperanza banging on the gates of purgatory, trying to get out and rescue her son.
She hesitated for a moment, hearing Mother Superior’s admonishment. Stay out of trouble while you are in Mexico, Sister.
Silencing the nagging voice in her head, Margaret charged forward, protective instincts in full swing.
Stopping Rafael and talking to him about the dangers of drugs surely wouldn’t qualify as trouble. Bluntness, maybe, but not trouble. It was more like saving. Yes, that’s it. I’m saving him.
About the Author
Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.
Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist and is a 2013 EPIC finalist.
Catherine’s website: http://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com
Catherine’s blog: http://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com/blog/
Catherine’s Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/catherinecastle
Catherine’s Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7085414.Catherine_Castle