The Universe is coming apart at the seams. As Jonathan and his friends fight to save it, their every move is being watched from the shadows. Lilith, the last Archdemon has plans of her own, and with the legendary Michael’s Spear under her control Jonathan has never faced a more lethal foe. With the odds stacked against him, Jonathan will need all the help he can get if he is to fulfil his destiny. It’s time for Gabriel’s grandson finally to spread his wings…
I am delighted to have Hilton Pashley the author of Michael’s Spear on my blog today doing a guest post!
There is a moment in the creation of every story when the characters become real to the author. It’s an odd process, and one that initially had me wondering whether I needed medication. By ‘real’, I mean that the characters cease to be puppets in one’s head and start to take back some control in what they do and say in the narrative.
I first noticed it when writing Gabriel’s Clock, the start of the Hobbes End trilogy that now ends with Michael’s Spear. I would type that a character would, say, be running screaming for the exit, and suddenly they would turn round and say “actually no, I think I’d rather be brave and punch the monster on the nose”. Cue an internal dialogue that has me having an intense conversation with a fictional being about their motivations, rather like an actor with a director. I’m glad these conversations tend to happen at home, as opposed to the coffee shop in the Millennium Library in the centre of Norwich, where I can often be found hunched over a steaming keyboard. I can imagine the clientele edging towards the exits, hazelnut latte’s in hand, as they stare at the man muttering out loud to his laptop.
Initially I thought I might need psychiatric help, but then I caught an episode of the Open Book programme on Radio Four, hosted by Mariella Frostrup. Her guests that day were the authors Zadie Smith and Thomas Keneally; I was most relieved to hear that they too had the same experience and so cancelled my appointment with the doctor.
It is once a character becomes ‘real’ that the story really gets going; I think the same thing also happens to readers. It’s an important moment because it’s at that point that you start to care about what happens next and – hopefully – want to read on until the end. Does the guy get the girl? Does the villain get their just desserts? Does that dangerously unstable jar of piccalilli explode and cause a massive incident of culinary destruction? If the author doesn’t care then the story won’t get written, and if the reader doesn’t care then the story won’t get read, either way, it all hangs on the moment you realise you have a bunch of imaginary friends living in your head, and that – talking to yourself in public aside – can only be a good thing.