Conversing with my Characters

The image show a cold blank window and a room lit with reddish glow

A frosty atmosphere pervades Cynthia’s normally welcoming sitting room which has nothing to do with the February cold. Gina regards me steadily from across the room and Gary, who’s perching on the arm of her chair, wears the expression he normally reserves for the rare occasions when Liverpool FC fail to win. Even Asmar, Cynthia’s cat, has turned his back on me.

Connor addresses me from a commanding position by the fireplace. ‘It’s not that we don’t understand your need to follow your authorial instincts, Ms Hall, and we’re delighted about the upcoming release of your new book, but this latest little series you’ve embarked upon doesn’t seem to be turning out as we’d hoped.’

‘As soon as we saw the title we thought we’d be in it,’ says Gina, ‘but no, you gave the starring role to Joey, and his character only gets a tiny mention in the final paragraph of our novel*.’

‘Then Ceridwen appears and she’s from a completely different book**,’ adds Gary. ‘She must be getting on a bit now.’

‘I would rather like to meet her,’ says Cynthia thoughtfully. ‘Not only is she a woman in her prime,’ she casts a meaningful glance at Gary, ‘but I think we’d have a lot in common.’ She draws her purple pashmina around her shoulders and looks at me earnestly. ‘I hope you’re not going to saddle her with the jade camel.’

‘Saddle the camel.’ Connor chuckles. ‘Good one, old thing!’

Cynthia gives him a withering look.

My gaze travels from one face to another. ‘I honestly thought that you’d all come forward once I’d started the story. That’s the way it usually works.’

‘Oh, so I suppose it’s also our fault that you’re still not starting our sequel.’ Gina’s eyes narrow. ‘We know you’ve already begun thinking about a sequel to the sequel you’ve just finished.’ She nudges Gary. ‘Did you see? She’s already covered that whiteboard of hers with ideas.’

Connor raises his hands towards her in a calming gesture then turns to me. ‘Sorry, Ms Hall, it’s just that we feel we’re not getting the exposure we deserve.’

I have an idea.

‘Listen. Why don’t you all come to the launch of the Spirit of Shell Man next Friday? It’s being held at the Six Sentence Café and Bistro. My back catalogue books will be there, so you’ll be able to engage with readers.’

‘Is that a real place?’ says Gina in sceptical tone.

I smile back at her. ‘It is if you want it to be.’

Connor’s eyes light up. ‘Might I bring along some of my slim volumes of poetry?’

Book launch invitation: join me for the launch of my new novel, Spirit of the Shell Man, Friday 4th March

Grab your seat at the launch here at lunasonline next Friday!

* You’ll Never Walk Alone (2019)
** The Silver Locket (2012)

To NaNo or Not to NaNo (2021)

An open book, Chris's author pic and the title 'chatting with my characters'

‘Misquoting the Bard, Ms Hall?’ Connor strides across the floor and strikes a dramatic pose by the fireplace. The two bars of the electric fire glow ineffectually against the foggy October day which presses around the edges of the bay windows. Feeling the chill, I pull my cardigan more tightly around me.

‘Turn the fire up, Connor,’ says Cynthia. ‘Ms Hall’s blood will have thinned after ten years in warmer climes than these. I remember when I returned from Singapore, it took me years to readjust to our dismal English weather.’ She takes an emerald-coloured pashmina from the back of the chaise-longue and tosses it over to me.

‘Spot of something warming, perhaps?’ asks Connor, looking longingly at the half-empty bottle of whisky on the sideboard. I shake my head. He frowns. ‘I sense by your utterance you are caught on the horns of a dilemma. Pray tell us what troubles you.’

Before I can answer, there’s a tap on the door.

‘It’s open, darling,’ calls Cynthia.

Gina appears. She flings herself into an armchair and grins across the room at me. ‘Do you have some news for us, Ms Hall?’

I explain about NaNoWriMo. Three years running and three books written within each succeeding year. But last year NaNo was a struggle and didn’t get me off to the same start.

‘It sounds as if you might be taking on a little too much to commit to that for a fourth time,’ says Cynthia gently. ‘Don’t pressurise yourself.’

‘But you’d be picking up our story again,’ says Gina. ‘I mean you’ve just finished writing that other sequel, haven’t you?’

I incline my head. It’s true. The sequel to Song of the Sea Goddess has passed the final editing stage and is soon to be proof-read by another keen eye. I twist the pen I’m holding. ‘Ah well, not quite yet, and I’ve been considering putting a poetry collection together in time for next year’s World Poetry Day.’

Connor’s eyes light up. ‘Congratulations, splendid idea!’ Connor rubs his hands together. ‘I’d like to think my success with the slim volumes I’ve had published has inspired you. You know I’ve had an advance to compose a third..?’

Gina shifts in her seat. ‘But so much has happened in our story since our book came out,’ she holds out her hands. ‘Each time you’ve come round something new has happened.’ Her eyes fall on the notebook in my lap. ‘You’ve noted it all down, haven’t you?’

My new notebook with notes on my YNWA characters dated 2019-2021

I look down in my lap. Gina’s right of course, I have been keeping notes… and there are a few more. I smile at three of my favourite characters from You’ll Never Walk Alone. ‘Next year will be your year, but no NaNo this time.’