Today I'm delighted to introduce the debut paranormal suspense author, Karin Harlow. Join me as we learn about her new series. And don't miss a chance to win the special prize she's offering. Read on.
Recently I did a little traveling on family business. The airport we flew into was a first for me. On our approach, which seemed to take forever, took us directly through a city! A city with high rises! Lot’s of high-rises. Thank goodness, on the outbound flight home, we took off over water. The airport had other issues, and, as much as I love the area, I won’t be flying into that particular airport for a while.
But the hassles of this airport aside, which were many, and I won’t bore you with the details, the reason for the trip was priceless: Family. A mile-stone birthday for a favored elder uncle. I was able to visit with and catch up with family members I have not seen in almost 30 years! Even cousins I have never met. It was interesting to see how this particular side of the family, which has been hit heavy with divorce, desertion, devastation and alienation, had managed to heal.
There was one person who was not invited to the party, the catalyst of it all that destruction, the woman who more than 40 years ago ripped that family apart. As a writer, I found the character arc’s of this side of the family fascinating. I mean, I look at the initial damage one person caused and then over the span of 40 years how that damage played out in the main characters’ lives before coming full circle. I saw a family who was bruised, battered and battle weary, tho’ never beaten, come together in love and celebration of their patriarch. By their presence and peace of mind, they showed their true character.
As a writer, I hear constantly, write what you know. I try to. I’m surrounded by rich characters. My family, friends, acquaintances, people I’d like to know better, people I wish I didn’t know, and auxiliary people. Those are the folks on the fringe. Many of whom I find fascinating in a train-wreck kind of way. I have a good friend whose sister runs with a bunch of shallow Hal’s. Every so often, I’ll have the opportunity to go to an event where these women have converged. I sit in silent fascination and take copious mental notes. True character fodder! I don’t have to make up characters, I know too many from which to draw.
For me, story is character. A good story begins and ends with believable characters I care about. A heart-stopping plot is great, but without characters I care about as part of the story, I won’t read past hello.
For some writers, writing what they know consists of learned skills. If you’re a lawyer, you write books about lawyers and courtroom drama. If you’re a cop or in the military, you write cop or military stories. As the wife of a veteran cop there was no way I could not incorporate cops in my stories. Whether they were the white-collar feds or the blue-collar beat cop, cops always make their way into my stories. I write what I know. My L.O.S.T. (Last Option Special Team) series is all about jaded cops who go rogue. Every one of them see very black and white, when it comes to those who break the law, but see gray in order to take down the bad guys.
I can write cops and procedure all day long, but long before I begin writing that aspect of a story, I develop the character of the characters. The last thing I want to do is read or write a story with one-dimensional or cliché characters. Give me someone who hurts or has been hurt and who is in pieces for good reasons. Character flaws go back a long way, long before a grown man walks in to find the love of his life doing the nasty with his best friend.
Maybe his mother deserted the family, or she was a drunk and the hero had to take care of her for fear she would die and leave him alone in the world if he didn’t. Maybe he inadvertently does something that leads to her death while trying to help her and when tragedy strikes not because of what he did but because his mother was the looser she was, he feels the burden of her death. This guy is going to go one of two ways: He’s either going to try to save the world to make up for his belief that he killed his mother or he’s going to walk the earth a lost soul. But it’s that one incident that occurred in his youth that will set the trajectory of what he does the rest of his life. That is of course unless a certain someone and something shake him down to his foundation, forcing him to reset his trajectory.
I’m not a writer who makes excuses for her characters. Many of my protagonists do bad things. Most of them for a noble reason, but some, not so noble. Some just snap and lash out. The good stuff comes after they have totally screwed up. This where a person’s true character rises and shines.
What about you? If you had to name one fictional character that is still with you, long after you read The End, who would it be, and why?
I’d like to give away an uber cool L.O.S.T. (check out www.KarinHarlow.com to take a look at the L.O.S.T. seal.) mug to a randomly selected commenter! Winner announced Thursday, so be sure to check back.
Terry, thanks for having me!
My pleasure, Karin. And make sure you visit Karin's website to learn all about L.O.S.T.