A matter of faith

I think all authors go through what I typically go through when I am 90% done with a book: I have a draft, maybe even one that’s been revised a few times, but there is still plenty of layering to do. The characters must be made real and the plot a little more compelling, with my readers made to care about both. With my detailed outline in hand and a list of my characters and their individual traits nearby, I pore over what I have written and determine where I am missing depth in my manuscript.

It is always at this point, right before I begin the final draft process, but I begin to fear my characters are nothing but cartoons, that they have lost the struggle between word count, the need to move the plot forward and what’s left over to make my characters real. On top of that, when you’re writing a series as I am, you feel the need to move your recurring characters forward at least a little, too, so loyal readers, who love them as much as you do, can be rewarded. That’s all a lot of nuance to work into a plot that has to keep barreling forward at top speed.

This challenge was even more acute for me this time around as I worked on my new book, “Angel Along Us” because some of the characters, on the surface, definitely had the potential to slide into stereotype. This is often the case when you are working with characters that bring a lot of social baggage with them. In my case, I had a Catholic priest and a young female movie star, neither of which I wanted to end up being cardboard, and a handful of Hispanic characters who needed to be real without being caricatures. On top of it all, I had a recurring character who, in every book in which he has appeared, has bucked my plans for him and pretty much chosen his own path, often leading me to scratch my head about who exactly Adrian Calvano is and what he wants from me, his creator. Adrian was in fine form in this book, refusing to go along with my plot and choosing to act in unexpected ways. Clearly, he wanted something from me and I needed to figure out what.

It’s no wonder that my car felt crowded as I drove to the beach to begin my final push to complete this manuscript. Yes, I was the only one in the car, but I had all those characters riding in there with me and every one of them seemed to me to be in a most uncertain mood. I feared they might turn against me or, worse, give me the silent treatment, leaving me with nowhere to go. Continue reading

My Latest Book: Angel Among Us

The fourth book in my Dead Detective series is now available in the United Kingdom and United States. Angel Among Us is available in hardback and e-book formats. It features Kevin Fahey, a dead detective who is doomed to wander a lonely afterworld between the living and the dead after squandering his life being an alcoholic, a lousy father and an even worse detective. In Angel Among Us, he finds himself infatuated with a young school teacher eagerly awaiting the birth of her first child. The love she shares with her husband is balm to Kevin Fahey’s tortured soul. But when the schoolteacher abruptly disappears and the town’s suspicions turn against the husband, Fahey must find way to alert the living to what has really happened to her. His journey takes him to a magnificent mansion on the edge of town where a famous television star and his young wife — maimed by too much plastic surgery — live in unhappy silence. As servants come and go, another invisible occupant of the mansion makes his own unhappiness felt — a despair acutely painful to Fahey, his fellow wanderer. Strange visitors, self-denial, decades-old secrets and an unlikely hero all come together in a desperate race to save the life of the young schoolteacher before it is too late.