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I See Dead People (Who Were Never Really Alive)

art from day of the dead.

Dia De Los Muertos Festival
Artwork at the Dia De Los Muertos Festival hosted by MECA in the Sixth Ward near downtown Houston Texas. Copyright by WyoJones. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

And some mornings, I see a dead person in the mirror looking back at me. And I’m a little surprised to be standing and breathing (not saying I don’t check some mornings before I look in the mirror). As I’ve mentioned before, I’m basically an optimistic person, so I eventually decide I’m going to live and then my thoughts turn to fictional endeavors, which—because of where my fictions trends—takes me right back to dead people.

So when the hubs posted a series of photos he’d taken from the “Day of the Dead” celebration from November 1st, it appeared my blog was going to head toward dead people, too, helped by this quote that popped up on Facebook:

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
—E.L. Doctorow

And me being me, the headlights tend to light up potential fictional victims. It wasn’t always that way. When I was working on my second novel (THE LAST ENEMY), one of my daughters told me, “Mom, you need to kill someone.”

She was quite correct. So I did. (Fictionally!)

It was not my first fictional murder. Bodies were strewn about in THE SPY WHO KISSED ME. But those sort of just got mown down without my overt complicity, dictated by a speeding plot car. In THE LAST ENEMY, this my first “malice aforethought” fictional murder. I created a character for the explicit purpose of knocking them off.

I felt bad about that. They hadn’t done anything wrong, other than showing up for my novel. Luckily, I hadn’t had time to get too attached to them. And I was busy peering ahead, trying to figure out what happened next.

There are times when characters are meant to go down and they surprise me—and my fictional killers—by managing to survive. They exceed my expectations. Once I even had a killer elude me and escape justice (no, won’t tell you which book. That would be a spoiler.). He’s still out there somewhere. A nasty fellow. I keep hoping, that if he does show up in my plot car headlights, I can run over him and move on. Like a speed bump that doesn’t make it into a book. A most unpleasant fellow (can you tell I’ve been listening to a Dame Agatha audio book? My words sound a bit British inside my head. I should probably wrap this up before too much more creeps in.)

I would add to the above quote, that my plot car careens wildly all over the place, going off road, back on and sometimes right off cliffs. Thank goodness it is all fiction. I hate heights. I survive the crashes, put my battered car back on the road and take off again. I always mean to go slowly and figure things out with dignity and deliberation, but I seem to have a lead foot. Pretty soon I’m speeding forward again, ideas flashing past, bodies sometimes tumbling here and there. Stuff happening all over the place until plot and author collapse in a heap at The End.

It’s a bit dark, but also cathartic. It’s probably one reason I’m so optimistic and as mellow as my gene pools allows me to be. Of course, the hubs keeps claiming that I’m regularly offing him in my books, but it’s not true. I rather like him (oh my, there’s that British again. Definitely stopping this.). And he does take such fun photos, which he lets me use in my blog posts and on the covers of my books. Just don’t tell him I said that. I think he gets a kick out of wondering which victim he was in my books.

girl celebrating day of dead

Dia De Los Muertos Festival Copyright by WyoJones. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Have you ever wanted to be a fictional victim in a novel? (Ha, you didn’t see that question coming, did you? And I’m totally not clutching at straws.) Have you ever read a book and wondered? (Interesting side note: if you read Agatha Christie’s autobiography, then her books. Oh yeah. She used real people, or at least their quirks in her characters.)

Remember that all comments are entered in my monthly drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value). If you haven’t popped over to her website recently, she’s whipped up some amazing new stuff, btw. Ahem, yes, anyway, I announce the winner the first blog post of the new month. 🙂

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Perilously yours,
Pauline

“A highly suspenseful, should-be-a-movie, totally entertaining tale of derring-do, The Last Enemy defies categorization–at least by me. All I can tell you is: I enjoyed every word and was sorry when I reached the end. If you really liked the movie, Romancing the Stone, then you will absolutely love The Last Enemy and be clamoring at Hollywood’s gates to make this book into the next “really great movie.” Very Highly Recommended, Under the Cover Reviews

Last Enemy cover

Haunted by the death of her child and stalked by a killer, romance author Dani Gwynne wants to want to live long enough to testify.

You can safely buy this book right now. (Only fictional characters died in the creation of this novel.)