One of the most interesting things in writing novels is the creation of the characters. They are your people. The writer imbues them with everything they have. In my experience, they are a combination of people we have crossed paths with over the years and new characteristics that might fit the narrative. Many times they are composites of people you might know, even casually.
Take Thib, the father of Cloe and grandfather of J.E. in the original Judas the Apostle. He was a member of the greatest generation. I think those of you who may have read the book would agree Thib acquitted himself very well. Except, you will be thinking, he should never have sparked that argument with Cloe. How could he? How could he blow up the family like that? How could she? Yet, many will say they know people with pride like that.
Anyway, Thib had characteristics of my father but he wasn’t my father. His military experiences were similar. His steadfastness, stubbornness were similar but not the same. We evolve. My father was in later years kind and gentle but earlier, when he fought in the war he was hell on wheels. So Thib was one thing but he changed. He just couldn’t get back.
In the latest Cloe Lejeune book, “7” I write about a seven year old boy, Robby. Is he the “7”, well, you’ll have to get the book to see. This all started a few years ago when a young boy who was familiar with my writings asked me when he could be in one of the books. I was fascinated by the question and told him off hand he would be in the next one. This got me pondering how to write a seven year old boy into a biblical thriller.
So I came up with the idea of him being a part of a group who would be called upon to do terrible and heroic things to save humanity. But a seven year old boy could never be allowed by his parents to go off and do such things, so it was a non-starter. How could the young boy be a hero in the book with helicopter parents? So I created Bully, a hundred pound English bulldog. He’s Robby’s best friend and protector. He’s a dog but he’s so much more. Even Robby’s mother trusts Robby with Bully. Voila, problem solved.
But that’s just the beginning. It gets back to characters. Writing the dialogue for Robby was the most. fun. A seven year old is at the intersection of a strange sort of wisdom and naïveté. I love the part where Robby is trying to explain his mission to his mother and tells her it’s a lot like Noah and the Ark. And, his mother says, yes but Noah was called by God.
And all Robby says is, “Yes ma’am.”