People ask where I come up with my story and character ideas. The answer is ... kinda everywhere? I have things that catch my magpie attention, and I jot them in my notes app or on a sticky note or screen shot a fleeting text conversation or scrawl in one of my many notebooks or ... you get the idea.
So that stuff all percolates, and when it's time to create a new book, one or many of those things magically reveals itself (in other words, I go searching around and see what grabs my magpie attention again.)
But when I start a new series, it gets even trickier! Because when I write the first book in a series, I know there will be recurring characters. But I don't always know what those characters will be like when I get to writing them - or if what I think they'll be like the first time I type them up will indeed be true once their book comes along.
Margo was like that.
I wrote Feather in Her Cap years ago, and rather randomly assigned Jeannie several siblings in a Gulf Coast town, but none of them appeared in the book. When I revisited that family for Twelve Scorching Days, Sarita began to interact with all those siblings, and Margo was mostly just Cole's hanger-on. Part of the set of siblings that Sarita took big-sister charge of while they were first leaving home for college.
And then Margo wanted to go and fall in love with Karl.
(That's a lie. Margo wanted no such thing. I insisted, though, and that's what her book is about.)
The notes on her I had going in were that she was the 5th of 6 kids (I'm 2nd of 4; my dad is 4th of 7, my grandma is 2nd of 10 - I have a real fondness for large sibling groups!), that she looks remarkably like all the other Dunways (another trait from my own clone-ridden family), and that she and Cole were going to be living apart for the first time.
Good stuff, sure, but very much a starting point.
As I wrote Margo of the Bells, I discovered that she never fumbles over her words. She speaks with surety and confidence, and that? That makes it hard for people (Karl) to read if she's got emotions she's hiding.
I learned that she is afraid to get passionate about anything or anyone (Karl), because she's had too many things she cares deeply about yanked out of her life.
I found out exactly how her small hometown, which seems so full of loving family and nice things like tacos, and the ocean, and Karl's dog (and Karl), is actually a place of hurt and anger and betrayal for Margo.
So those are three things about Margo Dunway I didn't know before writing Margo of the Bells. (Neither did Karl, but he learned, too. That, too, is the book.) I hope you check it out and enjoy discovering all this and more about Margo, Karl, and his very good good dog.
Writing is a journey undertaken by the mind in conjunction with the soul....