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.
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 move 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?