Character You Need for Your Book to Work.
Sometimes for me, discovering the characters that will appear in one of my books is like the old knock-knock joke. I hear a rap at the door and there is a character who fills a hole in my story that I didn’t even realize existed.
For example, when I wrote Three Treats Too Many, I knew I was going to use a veterinarian clinic as one of my settings. In my mind and original outline, I could picture the veterinarians, the clinic itself, and how my protagonist, Sarah Blair, through her pets, interacted with both. When I finished the first draft, I felt something was off, but didn’t know what.
Simplifying things, I paused and thought about how clinics and veterinarians function. It dawned on me that the vets wouldn’t be the ones to handle some of the tasks associated with Sarah’s pets or the emotional hysterics she was trying not to show. Rather, in most clinics, a vet tech would be the buffer between the doctor, Sarah, RahRah, and Fluffy. Consequently, I needed to add a vet tech for reality. Great, I thought, but then the second portion of the knock-knock joke hit me. The character not only added a sense of reality to the story but also could be utilized as both a red herring and a means of complicating the story. I rewrote the scene again. The third time was the charm.
There was just one remaining problem. I had to tell my New York editor, a man known for not liking surprises, who was working off my original synopsis. I sent him an email explaining the character and how the tech bridged what I now saw had been a major gap in the story. Anxiously, I waited for his response.
It came quickly. “Sounds good,” he wrote. From his years of working with authors and books, he understood, more than I had, that sometimes a character comes knocking. That’s why, when another one showed up in my new book, Four Cuts Too Many, I let the character in immediately.
A Sarah Blair Mystery: Book 4
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Sarah Blair gets an education in slicing and dicing when someone in culinary school serves up a main corpse in Wheaton, Alabama . . .
Between working as a law firm receptionist, reluctantly pitching in as co-owner of her twin sister’s restaurant, and caretaking for her regal Siamese RahRah and rescue dog Fluffy, Sarah has no time to enjoy life’s finer things. Divorced and sort-of dating, she’s considering going back to school. But as a somewhat competent sleuth, Sarah’s more suited for criminal justice than learning how many ways she can burn a meal.
Although she wouldn’t mind learning some knife skills from her sous chef, Grace Winston. An adjunct instructor who teaches cutlery expertise in cooking college, Grace is considering accepting an executive chef’s position offered by Jane Clark, Sarah’s business rival—and her late ex-husband’s lover. But Grace’s future lands in hot water when the school’s director is found dead with one of her knives in his back. To clear her friend’s name, Sarah must sharpen her own skills at uncovering an elusive killer . . .
Includes quick and easy recipes!
Judge Debra H. Goldstein writes Kensington’s Sarah Blair Mystery series (Three Treats Too Many, Two Bites Too Many, One Taste Too Many). She also authored Should Have Played Poker and IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories have been named Agatha, Anthony, Derringer finalists. Debra serves on the national boards of Mystery Writers of America and is president of SEMWA. She previously was on Sisters in Crime’s national board and president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter.
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