Happy Solstice, all, from Edith and Maddie, delighted to welcome real spring.
And even happier to welcome our New England author friend and frequent Wickeds commenter, Kait Carson. Her second Hayden Kent mystery re-releases today, and it sounds like a hot one!
Here’s the blurb: Underwater, no one hears your screams. Hayden Kent’s mentor discovers her son Mike’s body, fully clad in scuba gear, beneath the pedestrian pier on Pigeon Key. She turns to Hayden for solace at the tragic accident. Rumors of vast riches and disgruntled investors flew through the Keys when Mike discovered a sunken Spanish galleon. Then the man changed his will a few days before his death disinheriting everyone but his son. Are the two events related? Hayden’s dive on the treasure site uncovers gold, and evidence that Mike’s death was no accident. As the suspect list grows, so do threats against Hayden who must find the killer before she becomes the next victim.
Inciting Incidents and Strong Women
Thank you, Wickeds, for inviting me to blog with you today. I come bearing gifts. Death by Sunken Treasure, the second in the Hayden Kent Mysteries is re-released today. To celebrate, Death by Blue Water, the first in the series is $0.99 for a limited time. When I lived in Florida, I had a friend from Louisiana – she advised me to always offer lagniappe. A little something extra.
Readers often ask how much of Kait is in Hayden Kent. After all, there are undeniable similarities. We’re both Scuba divers, runners, paralegals, owned by cats—I mean cat owners. Check, check, check, check. It’s a good question. Wasn’t it Hemingway who exhorted authors to “write what you know”? Despite the similarities, Hayden is her own woman. Our joint interests sprang from a different well.
When I sat down to write Death by Blue Water, I lived in the Crown of Maine. That’s the very tippy top of the State. It’s a culturally diverse area that includes the French speaking St. John Valley, whose settlement was immortalized in the Henry Wadsworth poem Evangeline, and the heavily forested “English” area known as the Allagash.
It was November, snowing, and the rapidly rising snowdrift outside my window reminded me winter had a long way to go. More than anything I wanted to slide into warm, blue, water and feel the soft kiss of sun on my cheek when I surfaced. To quell my longing, I flipped through my dive logs.
Kait smiling underwater
My heart ached with the memories. I almost tasted salt on my lips. Then I found an entry about a dive on a deep wreck named The Thunderbolt and how my heart stuttered when a plastic bag floated out of the wheelhouse of the ship. At one hundred feet below the surface, that bag appeared to be a hand fluttering and shedding skin as it rose toward me. Death by Blue Water was born.
Now I needed a protagonist. She had to be a scuba diver and a believable investigator. The diving was easy. She lived in the Florida Keys. For investigative purposes, I made her a paralegal. Legal professionals, like law enforcement, look at an investigation from the small end of the telescope. The investigation and research geared towards eliminating the unprovable to find the diamond hard nugget of truth. Hayden Kent was skilled in both areas. She demanded to be a runner and cat owner. I’d not thought to give her a hobby beyond diving. Nor had I given her a cat. In the early chapters of the first draft, she owned a German Shepherd. So much for my plans. She wanted to run, and even though a dog would be the ideal running companion, Hayden reached into her backstory and plucked out Tiger Cat. I should have known this character would be trouble.
Once the plastic bag turned into a body, the inciting incident was in place. Hayden took control of the story and developed her own strengths and vulnerabilities. She led the investigation down paths I hadn’t thought of. Sometimes her antics plucked my last nerve, but she always managed to keep the story, and the need for a solution, as her primary goal. In the end, I admired her. So much so that when I visited Pigeon Key later that year, and spotted something that looked like it might be a diver under the pedestrian boardwalk, I let Hayden take the lead and solve the mystery of Death by Sunken Treasure.
My books spring from my imagination, but once the inciting incident is in place, it’s the characters who take command and tell the stories.
Readers: do you wonder how protagonists evolve? Writers, do you listen to your characters?
Kait Carson lives with her husband, four rescue cats and flock of conures in the Crown of Maine where long, dark, nights give birth to flights of fictional fantasies.
You can reach Kait and sign up for her newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow her on: Instagram: kaitcarson2; Twitter: @kaitcarson; Facebook: Kait Carson; Facebook Author: Kait Carson Author; Pinterest: Kait Carson; Amazon: Kait Carson; BookBub: Kait Carson; Linked In: Kait Carson
I do wonder how protagonists evolve and as an unpublished writer who writes for fun well my characters especially the main ones sometimes take over
Thanks for commenting, Crystal. Keep writing for fun. You may be surprised at where it leads. Characters really do know the story best.
I do always find it fascinating listening to authors talk about how their characters evolve from when they first met them and even over the course of a series. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Mark. They really do change and grow. It’s fun to be a part of it.
Welcome, Kait! It’s so great to see you on this side of the blog! Congratulations on the re-release. Having a character surprise me is one of the great joys of writing.
Thanks for the warm welcome, Sherry! Which character surprised you more? Sarah or Chloe?
Great question and I had to ponder it for a bit! I think Sarah was more of a surprise.
I find it greatly interesting to see how an author develops a character and the paths they take in their stories. I also think readers can tell is the author’s true life experiences shine through in the characters and if the details have been researched – either by personal experiences or the shifting through real facts while researching to make the stories come to life for us readers. When it’s done that way, the story come alive and finds the reader rapidly turning pages as they get involved with the story that unfolds. “Death by Blue Water” sounds exactly like that and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read it.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Hi Kay, what a lovely thing to say!
Congratulations on the re-release, Kait. I don’t have any choice but to listen to my protagonists!
Ain’t it the truth! They can be very demanding. 🙂
Welcome, Kait! It is so wonderful to have you on the posting side of the blog. And congratulations on Death by Sunken Treasure. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the joy of getting to know characters over a long series. You may know the backstory when you start out, but as the books go on, you’ve actually lived through years of experiences with them and seen them think, feel, act, and react. This process has been one of the joys of my life.
Thanks, Barb. That is so true! It’s such fun to watch them change and grow.
It is so lovely to read your post here today, Kait! I so enjoyed reading about the way your character, and your stories, evvolved!
Thanks, Jessie. I have had a great time!
Love reading about your process, Kait. Amazing how one thought or scenario can lead to a whole book!
Thanks, Mary! It is amazing-I’m often reminded of the “tiny seed” quote!
Thank you for having me, Wickeds. What fun to spend time with everyone and what great comments.
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