I love meeting new characters when I start a book. I have no idea where they come from. They aren't exactly people I've ever met, but they are so real to me, they must be parts of people I've crossed paths with.
I just finished my 60th book, so I've met a lot of characters. I never plan them. They just kind of appear as I start the book. I listened to mystery writer Elmore Leonard talk once at a conference in Palm Springs, Californa. He said he interviews his characters as he beings to write. If they are boring, he dumps them.
When I started the Chisholm Cattle Company series, the Chisholms were like that. Boring! I'd just finished the Winchester family and they had been so wonderful quirky and dysfunctional, I loved them. The Chisholms seemed so...normal. I didn't like them and didn't want to write about them.
Stuck, I went fishing with my husband. It was on the way back in the boat, watching the water whiz past, when I decided to kill Hoyt Chisholm's wife Laura. Fortunately, it was a long boat ride. By the time we reached the dock, I had killed three of Hoyt Chisholm's wives. Who knew?
And by the time we pulled the boat out, I couldn't wait to start writing about this now interesting family. I had no idea where the six books would take me. Each was as much a surprise to me as I hope they are to my readers. I loved each surprise.
In CORRALLED, the book that will hit the shelves the beginning of next month, I finally got to come face to face, so to speak, with my villain. Needless to say, it was great fun. It only got better in the final book of the series, WRANGLED, which comes out in June. I love a villain who doesn't give up. :)
I also wrote a single title bigger book this year. UNFORGIVEN comes out this summer. I think sometimes the lines between good and bad blur. I like those kind of villains too.
Meanwhile, I'm starting my next Whitehorse, Montana Intrigue series called Sundown Stallion Station. I'm just getting to know the McGraws, but I already like them. They have so many wonderful secrets. I will be meeting these still shadowy new characters soon. It's what I love best about writing.
Do you have a favorite Whitehorse character? Share it with me and I will send the first six of you a free book.