Friday, June 17, 2011

My Protagonist Tells Me Off!

by Jean Henry Mead

Ever wonder what your protagonists would say to you, if they were alive?

Sarah Cafferty is one of two amateur sleuths in my Logan and Cafferty mystery/suspense series. She wasn’t her usual self in my recently published novel, Murder on the Interstate, and I wanted to know why:

Author: Sarah, why are you so cranky in this novel? You’ve shown good humor in the two previous books. You’re too old for PMS.

Sarah: Cranky? What do you expect? You send a killer to stalk us and cause Dana to crash our new motorhome to escape. Then you cause us to be nearly swept away in a flash flood. The downpour scared me so badly that I irrigated my underwear.

Author: I’m sorry, Sarah. I know it was traumatic, but you have to admit that it was suspenseful.

Sarah: And where were you while we were getting soaked to our knees and nearly drowned? Sitting in your comfortable chair thinking up ways to get us into deeper trouble.

Author: That’s my job. Would you rather I replaced you with a younger sleuth?

Sarah: Over my dead bod—You know that Dana and I are only 60 and not some elderly widows with walkers. We can still do everything that the younger sleuths can do.

Author: Well . . .

Sarah: With the possible exception of skateboarding and scaling tall buildings.

Author: I was thinking of having you bungee jump in the next novel.

Sarah: Unless you’re joking, Dana and I are taking a permanent hiatus from the mystery series.

Author: What about our readers? You don’t want to disappoint them, do you?

Sarah: Haven’t we done enough? In A Village Shattered you send a serial killer after us, in Diary of Murder, a vicious drug gang. Then, in Murder on the Interstate a homegrown terrorist group kidnaps us while they’re planning to take down the entire country. How can you possibly top that?

Author: I’ve got some ideas that will knock your socks off.

Sarah: That settles it! You can email Dana and me in Aregentina. That’s where we’re going on vacation. If we don’t answer, you’ll know that some other novelist has decided to adopt us and treat us fairly.

Author: You’ll be bored within a week and out of a job in a month. Novelists who are nice to their protagonists don’t last long in the publishing business. Readers want suspense as well as mystery.

Sarah: I’ve got a great idea. You can take my place and I’ll write you into some mysterious and suspenseful situations. You’ll love bungee jumping over a crocodile pit or waking up with rattlesnakes. I can think of lots of exciting situations to place you in.

Author: Point taken, Sarah. From now on we’ll concentrate on mystery and go easy on the suspense.


Bill Kirton said...

Great post Jean, and what a good idea. I think you may find others stealing it (including me - but if I do, you'll get an acknowledgement).

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Bill. Sarah is a fun character to write about and she seems to get crankier and more outspoken with each book. She reminds me of a good friend of mine. :)

Mark W. Danielson said...

Fun post, Jean. Great way to draw people in to your characters.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Mark. Humor is included in all my books, including my nonfiction. It helps to prevent melodrama. :)