“Everything I Needed To Know, I Learned From My Characters”
Yeah, I know. It might seem like a sort of overused title. But there’s a great deal of truth in it, for me, and it’s a philosophy that’s carried me through the ups and downs of life, and writing.
Over the years (decades, really) of writing, I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion. I’ve learned something from each and every character I’ve ever encountered in my writing career. Some have been lessons in what not to do (being evil is a sure-fire way to end up dead and despised, for example. The Widow Society from Project Prometheus taught me that).
However, most have been positive lessons in how to live my life. Like how honor, integrity, and loyalty are worth more than anything else in the world ( the Commandos, from Underground, taught me that). That judging a person based solely on their outward appearance is a sure way to bypass something truly wonderful and life-altering in this world (Matt Raleigh’s lesson, from IN HER NAME).
I learned that guilt and anger are two of the most poisonous emotions that exist, and they can do irreparable damage to the things I hold most dear (thanks to Trevor Watkins and Jaye Michaels in SHADOW WALKER). That no matter how far down I go, no matter how dark and terrible things seem, there’s always hope for me (Tamia Kuan, from Underground, and Peter Talladay, from HOPE OF HEAVEN, both taught me that).
I even learned, during one of the darkest periods of my life, that the only way you stay a victim is by letting the person who harmed you maintain their power (this was a hard-learned lesson, for both myself and Chelsea Hanover in BURDEN OF PROOF).
And I learned that fear is the most numbing, and destructive, power in the world. It can tie you down, hold you prisoner, and beat the hell out of you. It can keep you from what you want, and turn you against those you love and who love you. These lessons came from Telyn Gwndal (DAUGHTER OF ASHES), Hope MacKenzie (HOPE OF HEAVEN), and Matt Raleigh (IN HER NAME).
So, yes, I’ve learned a great deal from my characters. I’ve learned how to stand on my own two feet, and not allow myself to be held or beaten down by life’s failures, or the fears and failures of others. Through their triumphs, I learned that love has the capacity to wash away any stain on the soul, and that an open heart and open mind are the most amazing and spiritually uplifting possessions a person can own.
My characters inspired great changes in my life, opening my eyes and allowing me to see what was in front of my face all along. I only hope they can do the same for you.