It’s All In My Head

I am very close (next week close) to the deadline on Chime and Punishment, the third book in my Clock Shop Mystery series. Book two, Clock and Dagger, is coming out next month, so I am starting to think about the launch, and how I am going to promote the book. A friend at work read Just Killing Time on his vacation last week. “Is she going to end up with Ben?” was the first question he asked this morning. I couldn’t answer, though I had answers. Actually, a couple of different answers, depending on which books have been read in the series.

Fred would like to be Bezel if there is ever a movie

Busy times, but also a bit of a lull as I wait for readers to give me feedback on Chime and Punishment and wait for my copies of Clock and Dagger to arrive. (My editor sent me one of her copies. Fred likes the cover.) Time for the characters to take over. Right now, Ruth Clagan and the gang–the Reed family, Ada and Mac Clark, handsome Ben, Chief Paisley, Aunt Flo–they’re all real. Real to me, at least, these days. I eat a cookie and wonder if Moira should serve it at the Sleeping Latte. I see steam punk earrings, and think “Ruth would like these.” In both cases, and the half dozen others that happen every day, I need to remind myself that neither Ruth nor Moira are real.

As a reader, I am used to characters coming off the page, and being part of my psyche while I am immersed in a book. I love reading a new book in a series, revisiting old friends. I’ve often wondered how authors keep characters fresh. I don’t know that I have any answers in that regard, but I do know that characters┬ámove into a part of your brain and never really leave.

But I’ve never had this experience before, probably because I’ve never written three books in a series before. The characters have opinions on the edits. They’re all fighting for page time. It is like having a Shakespeare repertory company who do a play a year. Same people, different stories. Best not to forget if you are doing Loves Labor Lost or Hamlet. Best not to talk about the plot of Chime and Punishment while trying to get folks interested in Clock and Dagger.

Friends who write multiple series, I don’t know how you do it without having inadvertent character crossovers (which could actually be sort of fun). Though I will confess, a minor character who had a featured role in one scene has taken up residence in my imagination. She wants her own story. This is a good, albeit complicated, problem to have.

Dear readers, what books or characters have taken over your imagination? Writer friends, do you characters move in?

16 Thoughts

  1. I love this, Julie. Of course my characters take over my reality. In the past when I’ve written a blog post referring to one or another of them, my first impulse is to include their picture…oh, they aren’t real. I don’t HAVE a picture, except in my head. So far my characters haven’t crossed over my series, except the once I did it on purpose for Dru Ann Love’s Day in the Life feature this spring, when Cam Flaherty and her parents went to Robbie Jordan’s fiction Pans ‘N Pancakes restaurant in southern Indiana! ( was a lot of fun to write.

  2. My characters definitely take up residence in my head. And woe betide me if I try to make them do something they do NOT want to do in a story.

  3. When I ran a yard sale last weekend with Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Kathryn O’Sullivan. I kept thinking about how Sarah (from my books) would do things and I think I’ve even said it out loud a couple of times.

    1. That’s so funny. After reading your series, every time I pass a tag sale I think of your books. ­čÖé Guess that answers the question posed in the blog post. ­čÖé

  4. I get very close to the people in the books I read if they are in a series. I remember telling one of my son’s about Ruth from Louise Penny’s Three Pines books and he said that I spoke like I knew them in person.

  5. Characters from both TV and books take up residence in my life, but no where near like they do for authors. After all, for you you’ve spent months with them writing their story. While they certainly stick with me when characters are done well, I move on to the next story and those take up residence in my brain.

    Of course, going back to a series with characters I’ve loved in the past brings them back to the forefront of my mind. And if it’s a series I really love, I start getting very anxious to go back and read more about them as the book edges closer to the top of my TBR pile.

    Funny you would post this today. Last night was the series finale of Royal Pains on the USA Network. I’ve long loved that show because the characters and their relationships were so real to me. My poor roommate, who has never seen the show except the last 5 minutes last night, got to hear about how it was a perfect ending for the characters and how much I loved it in a couple of different rants as I worked my way to bed. Yes, the stories were fun, but it was those characters that made the show so fantastic for me. (And I don’t usually watch medical shows, so you know it was something special.)

    1. Oh, I haven’t watched the series finale of Royal Pains yet. I love the series. The characters are great, but it’s also a setting I know well. I spent a part of every summer growing up at my grandparents place in the Hamptons.

      The story of your roommate reminds me of the series finale of Friends. It was a big deal on television. I had started watching the series with my kids who were grown and had left home by the time the show ended, but I had kept on faithfully. I happened to be flying cross country on the day the finale aired and watched in a bar in the Denver Airport. My colleague traveling with me had never watched the show, except very occasionally, kind of drifting in and out of the room when his daughters had it on. So he kept saying things like, “Wait a minute. I thought they were broken up…” etc. Not a recipe for a good viewing experience!

    2. I watched the series finale last night, and did like they way they wrapped things up. I always hate when a beloved series ends (in print or on TV), but am grateful when it ends while I still don’t want it to–does that make sense? I remember an interview with Robert Wagner years ago, and he said 5 years was perfect for a series. I tend to agree.

  6. My characters are always with me too – especially when I’m walking the green with the dogs. I find myself looking around to see if Stan or Jake are walking their dogs and then remember they aren’t real! Or looking at the house on which I used to base Stan’s house and wondering if she’s home. I did have an experience where one of my characters from an as-yet-unpublished work decided that he had business with another character in a different as-yet-unpublished book. I actually wrote a short story about it but definitely feel like that’s a storyline to pursue!

Comments are closed.