Monday, March 14, 2011
The Boy Inside the Man
People who've read my books know that I've let the odd character wander from one story into another. When I needed a vicar for a few scenes in my thriller Every Secret Thing, for instance, it occurred to me that I already had a vicar — Tom from Mariana — so instead of giving someone else the gig, I just used Tom. Why re-invent the wheel?
But in this latest work in progress, I've done something that I've never done before. Inspired by a fan's suggestion, I've taken a character who was a child in a previous book, and I've let him age naturally into the hero of this one. I didn't know if it would work, but the moment he entered the story, no longer a boy but a man, I could see just how perfect he was for the part.
I've found it fascinating, watching him develop as a character and noticing what qualities and habits he's held onto as he's grown. I tried to make him serious and quiet, but in dialogue his sense of fun and mischief still came out. And he still tips his head to the side when he's thinking, a habit I'd nearly forgotten. (In case that sounds crazy, I should explain: I "see" all my characters moving and talking as though I were watching a film, while I'm writing — the gift of an active subconscious...)
Back when I first created Robbie sixteen years ago, I never could have seen him growing into a romantic hero, but he's got me thinking now of other heroes I first met as boys in books I loved, like Gilbert Blythe, who just gets cuter and more charming in the Anne books, or Almanzo Wilder, who matures from the Farmer Boy into one of my favourite kinds of heroes: the good-natured, strong and dependable type.
I think, with both men, it was having that background of where they had come from that made me so fond of them, and that's undoubtedly why I'm now so fond of Rob in this new book of mine.
I've been trying to think of more heroes who started as boys in a book (or a series of books), but I'm drawing a blank so far. Who else can think of one? And do you still see the boy in the man when he's grown?
(Don't forget to come back and read Julie's post this coming Thursday).