Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Friends make the most interesting characters

Let's talk about friends. Actually, Let's talk about really good friends and how they influence our writing. Moreso, how those friends make for some really great characters.

Do you have one of those friends that you have known for what seems like forever? You know, the kind that you met as a kid, who knows what you're going to say before you say it. The same person who can tell when you need a chocolate ice cream cone to make the bad day go away.

I have a friend like that. All the other friends I met in my younger more formative years have gone by the wayside, but Duane has somehow managed to remain a constant in my life. I might not hear from him for months or see him for years, but when we do hook up it's like time stood still. The conversation is fluid and comfortable as if we haven't moved across the country or world from each other.

Duane is my lifetime friend and the one guy who managed to work his way into my entire family's heart. He became a part of the family. I think my father secretly considers Duane (AKA Dewey) the son he never had. My father has four daughters. :-)

When my father turned sixty, we had a huge celebration with family and friends. Duane, who had been overseas, surprised my dad by showing up for the party. It was one of those memorable and rare moments where my father choked up with happiness.

Duane is one of those good friends who when I sent him an email message to tell him that I got divorced he called my parents' house to get my phone number (because, gee, he's only had it for how long, but somehow can't locate it) and blabs to my mother the situation before I get a chance to and then he proceeds to call me up and give me grief for not saying something sooner. Of course, I yell right back and tell him I can't believe he said anything. Gotta love friends like that!

Later that same year, I located the house I wanted to buy the same day he called me from returning from overseas. After a very short conversation, he was on a plane flying up to checkout what would become my new home. Duane was the first person to see it. I still have the photos of him posing in every empty room.

Why am I telling you all of this?

There are some people in our lives who affect us so profoundly that we can't let them go. Duane is that character in my life. I use the word character because he and his career have influenced my writing.


When I wrote It Happens in Threes, all I knew is that I wanted to write suspense. I used what I imagined Duane's job would be like for my hero as a government spook. Not to mention some of his quaint, if not overused quips he likes to throw at me, in particular, one Russian phrase that appears to be his pet name for me. I can't share it in mixed company. Between Duane's chosen career choice and my technology background, I crafted my first techno-romantic thriller.

When Jeannie Ruesch made the book trailer for It Happens in Threes, I gave her a description of Duane and if you checkout the video, you'll know she came pretty close to capturing the hero. Trailer link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBTLTtJY9V0

In Killer Bunny Hill, I again leveraged some of what I had gleamed about Duane's career to create a hero who works for a secret government agency and has traveled abroad.

It was when I wrote Connect the Dots that I truly started to understand and appreciate what Duane does as this book moves into the realm of human intelligence gathering, only this time, it's the heroine who travels in that world. After I had the first few chapters written, I emailed them to Duane for his approval and inspection. (I never share my WIPs with anyone who is not my editor or critique partners.) Anyway, this was great! He reviewed it for accuracy in terms and descriptions, and every once and a while we would catch up and I would get to ask him questions and cross my fingers that he could answer them. Wait til you read it!

There are obviously other family and friends who have influenced my writing and become a big part of my book process. Most of you know my father is my first round editor and probably my biggest supporter.

Share with me and other readers.

I tell you about Duane because I want to know, would like you to share, who of your friends have made it into your books and why? Is it just their name? Their personality? Their looks? What about this longtime friend made you include him/her in your novel or short story?

Do they know it? What do they think about it?

Tell us about someone who has affected your writing.


Ceri Hebert June 17, 2009 at 4:55 PM  

Wow, he sounds like quite a guy and quite a friend.

I've always wanted to "use" my sister as a main character in a story. She's been such an inspiration to me. She's done so many interesting things with her life, including the bravest which is to be a smoke jumper for the US Forest Service. She's been fighting forest fires for years now (though she's working more in the office now she's a mom). She also goes to help out with natural disasters. She spent time down in the Gulf after Katrina.

I used one of her experiences down there in my book Where One Road Leads. She rescued an abandoned dog down there and had it sent back home for care. It was adopted out from there.

She's such a caring, hard working woman. Even though she lives out in Idaho she's always there for me. She even came out and stayed here when my oldest went in for heart surgery a few years back. She drove us down to Boston, she sat by my side while my daughter was in surgery and was a tremendous shoulder to lean on. I've never known anyone so unselfish.

There, that's my inspiration. :)

Denise June 17, 2009 at 8:39 PM  


A smoke jumper sounds really cool. You've got to write a story!

Your sister would get the biggest kick out of it.


Ceri Hebert June 17, 2009 at 8:54 PM  

As long as it's not a steamy one. I don't think I could go there. LOL

Denise June 17, 2009 at 9:00 PM  

That could be a little icky. :-)

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