Thinking about characters… and not getting too fond of them!

Sometimes a character arrives unexpectedly, and then becomes almost part of a writer’s life. This happened to me with Thomas Radwinter; I’d wanted to write a bout a family of brothers, and had the surname Radwinter, and had three of ‘the boys’ (all men in their forties and fifties) when suddenly unexpectedly a younger brother, a much younger brother arrived… and he was Thomas.

As a reader I’ve followed many different series of books by different authors, and I really like seeing what happens next to the ‘people’ I’ve been reading about in one book, after that book finishes. However, it can be really disappointing if the character becomes indulged by the author, and authenticity drifts away. There is nothing worse than an author ‘falling in love’ with their character, and becoming indulgent and unrealistic… And I hope I don’t become indulgent with Thomas Radwinter; he has to change, as anyone might… at the beginning he is approaching his thirty-third birthday, now he is heading towards forty… at the beginning he had no children, now he has a whole bunch!

He’ll have a whole load of new challenges and adventures in my next novel – and I hope if i become too indulgent with him, too fond of him, then readers will tell me! here he is in his new office… he can’t work at home any more, it’s just too hectic!

I sat at my desk and twiddled a bit in my chair, clicked the mouse a couple of times, then another couple of times and smiled to myself. I have an office! I have an actual office!
It’s only very small, it’s what used to be the upstairs flat of the veg shop run by my friend Val, but now the small sitting room is where I might meet any clients, three easy chairs but uprightish (some of my clients are a bit elderly) a coffee table and then to one side a desk with a couple of chairs in case we might have to look at some papers. It is very plainly decorated, so it just looks nice and clean and light, and I think it looks quite professional – well, I am a professional! There are a few black and white photos on the wall by a young photographer I know, Niqqi (I’m sure she is really Nicky, but never mind) and there are nice blinds at the window. The small room which used to be the bedroom is now my office, and this is where I was, sitting in splendour. I have bookshelves for my law books, I have a filing cabinet because some things still happen on paper, and I have three computers, yes three, and another big table where I can do my family tree stuff… because as well as being a solicitor I do people’s family trees.
The veg shop down below is very small – it’s the end of a row of other shops and whether the builder ran out of land or whether he wanted a small shop, whatever, it is much smaller than the others, which is why the flat has just one bedroom, a minuscule bathroom, and an even more minuscule kitchen… The kitchen, empty of any cooking stuff, apart from a kettle, microwave and a fridge, is just there to make tea and coffee..
Hmm… my first day in my new office… well, half a day. I have to collect various kids from various places and then I’ll be home getting dinner ready for us all and doing dadly things… perfect!
There was a ‘dong’ and I enquired through the entry phone who it was, feeling rather full of myself – I’d only been here an hour on my first day, I had plenty to do, and wasn’t expecting anyone, but here was a client…
My optimism deflated like a punctured football – I’d been playing footie on the beach with Kenneil and Terri and I confess I rather booted the ball, it hit a rock, bounced off and then sat there deflating…
“Come up, Inspector Graham!” I said with false heartiness. I slapped down a feeling of anxiety, I had nothing to be anxious about, I’d done nothing wrong… well, nothing that anyone apart from my friend David knows about.
Last year I was involved in a rather nasty incident which ended up in two people being dead… I’d spent rather more time with the police than I wanted, and had to go to court – well two courts a coroner’s court and a crown court. I had a few nightmares after that, I can tell you… a period of insomnia, and altogether an unpleasant few months… But I battened it all down, locked it all away and got on with being a dad and a husband…
“Thomas, good to see you, I hope you don’t mind me dropping in without an appointment,” Graham said as we shook hands. I greeted him as enthusiastically and normally as I could and he asked me to call him ‘Charles’ which I took to be a signal that he wasn’t here on police business and my heart rated slowed back to normalish.
He asked after the family and as usual I wittered on too much about how they all were – I still can’t get over how fortunate I am; I had many sad years when I thought I would never be a dad… and now I am, five times over!
“And how are your brothers?” he asked… and this began to be a bit odd… he really is not a friend by any means, and I can’t imagine he has any real interest in the various Radwinters… if it had been anyone other than Inspector Graham, I would think he was flannelling, building himself up to say something unexpected… hmmm…

In case you haven’t yet met Thomas, or read any of my other books, here is a link:

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