ANNA BELFRAGE

Step inside and steal some moments in another place, another time

Me and them – a beleaguered writer and her characters

It is strange with characters: once you’ve created them, they never go away. Not even when you’re no longer writing about them, but have moved over to other invented loves. They lurk in your head, mostly as silent shadows of themselves, now and then substantially more vociferous.

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Apparently, not the last…

“Just because you’re done with us, doesn’t mean we’re done with you,” Alex Graham tells me, graciously accepting a cup of tea. (Now and then, we have these intense tea sessions in my head: all my characters and me. Like a major reunion…)
“Really? I’d never have guessed,” I reply. For the last few weeks, Alex and her 17th century hubby have been very active in my brain. So actiove, in fact, that I’ve written another 110 000 words about them. And here was I, thinking To Catch a Falling Star was the last in The Graham Saga.
“What do you expect?” Matthew asks, looking up from where he’s mending a rake. “We still have plenty of life left to us, and surely you must sympathise with our need to find out what happens to our bairns, our friends?”
I do. Heck, I want to find out too. It’s just that at present, I am mostly with Adam and Kit and the struggles they’re facing in 14th century England. Or with Jason and Helle, as we speak facing off with their own personal nemesis.
“Yes, please get on with that, would you?” Jason says, an accusing expression in his bloodied face. “You can’t leave us here, dangling between life and death for much longer.”
“Sorry.” I hand him a big cup of tea – and a huge slice of chocolate cake which he promptly passes to Helle. Jason doesn’t do sweet stuff. He’s into broccoli and chicken and other healthy stuff. “You’re making me sound very boring,” he says, those amber eyes of his giving me an accusing look.

a-torch-in-his-heart_v2

Coming 2017…

So maybe I should add that he’s very, very old, remembers most of his 50 odd lives, and has the most amazing mahogany coloured hair. Plus he’s been looking for Helle in each and every one of those lives with like zero success rate except for the life when he found her floating dead in Paris—and this one.
“A very persevering man.” Helle drags her blonde curls off her face, revealing that she too is looking the worse for wear. “Look, could you please just finish this scene before I catch my death of a cold and die?” Oh, right: she’s soaked. And if I were her, I’d be more worried about drowning.
“She can’t swim?” Kit asks, eyeing Helle over the rim of her mug. My 14th century leading lady stays close to her man, the green of her kirtle complementing her blue eyes. And her red hair, except that she isn’t showing us any hair, neatly veiled as behoves a modest wife.
“Modest?” Adam chuckles. “Haven’t you heard what she did to save me from certain death?”
Err, yes, I have. I wrote it, remember? Central scene in In the Shadow of the Storm… “Ah, aye, so you did.” He looks a bit confused. “But tell me, is it you that writes in which direction things will go, or is it we who direct you what to write?”
“I can swim,” Helle pipes up before I can reply to Adam’s question. “But I’m no fan of deep water.”
“And yet there is no need to swim in the shallows,” Kit replies. She nibbles daintily at her chocolate cake. “What is this?”
“Something as yet not discovered back in your time,” Alex tells her. “Just making a name for itself in our time.”
“Our time?” Helle leans forward. “I thought you were from my time.”
“I was.” Alex smiles at Matthew and squeezes his hand. “But now his time is my time.” She fixes me with one of those death-ray looks she uses to quell her many children. “You could have chosen a time with more modern comforts.”
“Sorry.” I jerk my thumb at Matthew. “He was in the 17th century. That’s where he belongs, rooted to his time in a way you’re not.”
“Aye,” Matthew says. “I prefer not being dragged through time.” He nods at Adam. “What do you think?”

under-the-approaching-dark

The next Adam & Kit book, coming in April

“Plenty of challenges in my time,” Adam replies. “I do not need to further complicate things.” He looks away.
“Will Mortimer win, do you think?” Matthew asks.
“You know, don’t you?” Adam asks.
“Aye, I do.”
“So why ask?” Adam demands, getting to his feet. “Is it to taunt me, for not knowing what to do when the lord I love as a father usurps the powers of the young king I serve and love just as much?”
Matthew clears his throat. “No, of course not.” He grasps Adam’s arm and pulls him into a rough embrace. “You’re a good man, de Guirande. Your conscience will guide you.”
“Amen to that.” Kit sets a hand to Adam’s shoulder. “And I’ll be there.”
“Nothing you can do, sweeting,” Adam tells her. He sighs. “Nothing either of us can do.” He turns my way. “How will it end?”
“Sorry. Can’t tell you.” I make a zipping gesture over my mouth.
“Bloody enervating writers,” Alex mutters, joining her husband and Adam and Kit. “Think they can decide our lives just as it pleases them.”

In the case of Roger Mortimer, I am restricted by historical facts—as I am, if to a lesser extent, when telling Matthew’s and Adam’s story. But I don’t say that out loud. Besides, when it comes to my invented characters, I rarely feel entirely in control. To answer Adam’s question, generally things turn out with me on control. Until they take a firm hold of their fates—even if it plays havoc with my initial plotline. Just as their continued presence threatens to play havoc with my sanity.

“Tsss!” Alex gives me a light shove. “Admit it, you love having us here.”
I do. Of course, I do. Without them, my head would be very empty. Sort like a huge black coffin without a corpse in it.
“You just have to accept it,” Helle says, handing me the last of the chocolate cake. “We may only exist in your head, but we’re the immortal ones here. Long after you’re gone to dust, we’ll still be around, sitting on a bookshelf or a Kindle somewhere.”

Well, that put me in my place, didn’t it? Me, the mere mortal, has spawned invented characters that potentially will outlive me. For some reason, that makes me smile before going in search of the Advil. Seriously, must they talk so much? And at the same time?

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17 thoughts on “Me and them – a beleaguered writer and her characters

  1. tmrtini on said:

    All I can say is that this post has made my day!

  2. Hi Anna. I loved reading this – it made me smile. Oh how my head would be empty too without my ‘brood’ – it’s such a fabulous & fascinating life we lead and you sum it up in such a wonderful way – thank you. Have a wonderful Sunday. 🙂

  3. It’s always a lark when one gets on the phone to recalcitrant call centre operatives to channel some of my lot. Russell usually gets results. Cold, sarcastic, and horribly, horribly polite. But of course I expect a full refund. I do expect it now. No, tomorrow will not be adequate. Sufficient unto the day, sir, is the remuneration thereof….

  4. Hello my beautiful Swedish friend, Jesamiah here. Just as well there was no rum around in that cosy tea party you had, or I’d’ve been there as well. I recall meeting Alex aboard ship once… MY wench who is supposed to be writing down my adventures appears to be busy doing other things at the moment – deeply immersed in the lives of the Roma Nova people in Alison Morton’s Audible versions. Meanwhile I sit here, dockside, waiting for the tide and for her to get back to me. Mind you, my last scene was an enjoyable romp with a rather nice French lady so… OK Helen can take her time… I’m quite happy where I am for a couple of hours *wink*

    • Now, now, Jesamiah: a romp with a French lady? And you a married man…As to rum, who says we didn’t have some? After all, up here in Sweden we all know that a tot of rum does wonders for the tea. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. I shall speak to your wench and tell her to get a move on.

  5. Love this! If only I didn’t end up killing all my characters…

  6. How familiar this sounds. We are never alone, are we?

  7. I know that feeling. Glad to know you always have company 😉

  8. Lol, I’m just beginning to find this out myself. I thought I’d written a one-off. Turns out my characters have other ideas and have already planned the next four books. I haven’t yet reached the stage of having tea with them…is that what comes next?

    The immortality thing is rather nice, isn’t it? Do Matthew and Adam really not want to visit the future? I’m having trouble keeping my characters out of it at the moment. Do you think your characters might ever be tempted? Although there’s always the risk of getting stuck in the wrong time, I suppose.

  9. Reblogged this on lorettalivingstone and commented:
    Who’s in control? You? Or your characters?

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