Secondary characters we love

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Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

Great characters make great books. Creating great characters is something that every writer works very hard at. They’re what readers remember: Oliver Twist, Sherlock Holmes, Bilbo Baggins, Lancelot. If the writer does their job right, we identify with the protagonist and experience the story through their senses.

But a story needs more than one character to come alive. The hero needs a villain, a best friend, a mentor, a love interest. Fagan, Watson, Gandalf and Guinevere are also characters that resonate with audiences.

For the author, these secondary characters can be great fun to create—and just as much work as the hero. We asked some of your favorite BestSelling Reads authors to tell us who is their favorite secondary character.

Samreen Ahsan

Of all the side characters I created, I have admired King Stefan from the [Stolen] Series. He is a tyrannical ruler whose mission is to break down his son Edward, and make a diabolical copy of himself.

Stefan is ruthless when it comes to punishment, and though he forbids his son to enjoy poetry, he himself reads poems, lives in them, and even fantasizes about the same woman his son loves. As the story progresses, he becomes more inhumane and evil towards his own son. 

Scott Bury

The character I enjoyed writing the most was Rowan Fields, the linchpin of Torn Roots, my first Hawaiian Storm mystery. She’s not very likeable: loud, opinionated, careless of others’ feelings, but she’s also passionate, dedicated to protecting the environment, and though she never admits it, deeply in love with the real hero of the story, Sam Boyko.

I have to admit, I still get a little thrill thinking about the insults Rowan throws around.

David C. Cassidy 

In Velvet Rain, the villain, Brikker is my favorite. He is cold, ruthless, sadistic … and brilliant.

His real-life counterpart would be Josef Mengele—and if Brikker were real, I’d wager he’d be far more terrifying.

M.L. Doyle

Harry Fogg (with two Gs) is a British SAS soldier and the love interest of Master Sergeant Lauren Harper in my mystery series. He is rough around the edges, a hardcore soldier, but has a brilliant sense of humor and tests my ability to write British-sounding expressions. I have to have some of his dialogue vetted by friends across the pond. I absolutely love Harry and my readers do, too.

I love all of my characters, but Granite and Pearl rank right up there as the best. They are cougar sized cats that were gifted to Hester Trueblood, in my urban fantasy series starting with The Bonding Spell. Hester, who also happens to be the embodiment of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna, was given the cats by her demi-god lover Gilgamesh. Gil found them in room 56 of the British Museum, where they’d been magically imprisoned in stone. Once freed, the cats, who can talk to Hester telepathically, can also switch to human form. But they seem a bit confused when on two feet, so they prefer to be in their furry state. I love these cats.

Alan McDermott 

Simon ‘Sonny’ Baines is my favorite.

He has appeared in all the Tom Gray books from the very first, Gray Justice, and also appears in my new Eva Driscoll series.

He likes a little fun, but can be deadly serious when it matters.

Toby Neal

My favorite is Jake Dunn in the Paradise Crime Thrillers. An ex-Special Forces soldier turned private operative, he appears in Book 2, Wired Rogue, and in the rest of the series. Jake is all action and passion, a black-and-white thinker, a thrill seeker and fun-loving guy, and someone who is growing beyond his own comfort zone to appreciate the shades of gray in dealing justice. I tried to get rid of him several times, but my heroine pined and the stories lost zip and zing without him. He is more than he first appears, and I love that layers keep revealing themselves about him and what he brings out in those around him.

J.L. Oakley 

I have two favorite characters, both in The Jøssing Affair.

First, Tommy Renvik is a member of Milorg, the military resistance organization in Norway in WWII. A friend of intelligence agent Tore Haugland, he helps Haugland deliver arms and helps him escape to Sweden after capture by the Gestapo.

The other is Katherine Bladstad. In 1907, she is best friend to Caroline Alford. The wife of a logging mill manager, she is an outspoken proponent of hiking in the mountains and of the “New Woman,” a woman’s right to vote.

Caleb Pirtle III

I only needed Chester Giddings for one scene in Conspiracy of Lies.

He was a meek, mild-mannered little man so timid that a car backfiring would frighten him, and he occupied the second-story room of a walkup hotel where my hero needed to hide, unannounced, while the bad guys were trying to gun him down.

The scene ended with one dead, police crawling over every inch of the hotel room, Chester trembling and pale in the corner, and it was time for him to go. Chester refused to leave the story. He kept showing up when he was least expected, time after time, and near the end of one of the final climactic scenes, it was Chester Giddings who took a deep breath, clenched, his jaws, tensed his muscles, gave his heart to God, and fired the crucial shot. He didn’t leave because he knew that 182 pages later I would need him, and so I did.

Raine Thomas 

My favorite secondary character is probably Finn from my Estilorian novel, Deceive.

Finn is charming, quick with a laugh, and doesn’t take life too seriously, but he has a depth to his character that helps his family and companions through many of their challenges. I loved his shapeshifting character so much that he might make it into another Estilorian story…shh! 😉

Who is your favorite secondary character?

Tell us in the Comments section below who your favorite secondary literary character is — and if they’re from a book by a member of BestSelling Reads, we’ll send you a free book!

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Fight to Survive

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Thursday teaser

This week’s #excerpt comes from the upcoming third Eva Driscoll action thriller

By Alan McDermott

Pre-order the third Eva Driscoll thriller on Amazon.

As Eva Driscoll arrived home from the restaurant, violence was the last thing on her mind.

She could still taste the buttery lobster and fruity wine she’d had for dinner, and all she wanted to do was curl up on the couch with a box set and a cup of hot cocoa.

The screams coming from the house next door put paid to those plans.

Eva had lived next to Sally and Jake for three months, ever since arriving in Melbourne, Australia. Raised voices had become a regular occurrence. Based on what she’d observed, they seemed like a normal couple most of the time, but when the sun went down it was a different story. Eva didn’t know if it was alcohol-related, or the stress of Jake’s job as a cop, but most evenings she had to turn up the television to drown out the shouting.

But the sounds currently coming from the neighboring house were on a whole new level.

As Eva locked her car and got her key ready to open the front door, a female scream made her pause.

Eva had had coffee with Sally a few times, but the state of the marriage had never come up in conversation. She’d delicately probed, but Sally had dodged the issue like a pro. That in itself told Eva that something wasn’t right within the Holman residence.

Jake was a big man, at least six-two and 230 pounds, with a physique that told of an athletic youth. Sally was built like Eva, a few inches shorter than Jake with a lean body. Hardly a fair match if things got physical.

Leave it, Eva told herself as she put her key in the door. It wasn’t her fight, and she didn’t need the aggravation. She was lying low, staying off the radar, and that meant she had to avoid confrontations that could quickly escalate. She would visit Sally tomorrow when Jake was at work and give her some friendly advice.

She almost jumped at the sound of something heavy hitting a wall in Sally’s house, followed by a burst of shouting and another high-pitched scream.

Eva sighed. She really didn’t want to get involved, but she also hated the idea of leaving the diminutive Sally at the mercy of her much larger husband.

Eva had met Jake on just one occasion, at a barbecue the couple had hosted. He’d come across as a real man’s man, full of confidence and aware of his good looks. He’d flirted with Eva a couple of times that day, though she’d been careful not to reciprocate. Her appearance attracted unwanted attention wherever she went, and being married hadn’t seemed a barrier to Jake. He also didn’t seem the type to put up with anyone questioning his actions—male or female.

Another cry came from their house, and Eva recognized the sound of a woman in pain.

She had to act, but she couldn’t simply rush in. This needed to be handled delicately, without any chance of blowback. She would try to defuse the situation, but if Jake pushed it, she’d need a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Eva went back to her car and locked her purse inside, then walked across the lawn to the Holman residence. She opened the camera on her phone, set it on top of the mailbox by the sidewalk, and zoomed in so that the front door filled the center of the screen. She pressed the Record button, then walked up the path and rang the doorbell.

Fight to Survive

is the third Eva Driscoll thriller following Run and Hide and Seek and Destroy.

She’s working for her enemies. Or so they think…

Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll has found a new life in Australia and believes she’s outrun the Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet. But the ESO has been watching her every move and when they approach her with a high-risk mission in North Korea, Eva is forced to co-operate with the organization she once vowed to destroy.

But releasing a high-ranking defector proves costly, and Driscoll is captured and imprisoned in a secret camp on the Chinese border. What she witnesses there will haunt her forever . . . so she decides to take matters into her own hands. But how long can she keep the ESO thinking she’s working in their interests rather than her own?

When her handlers become suspicious, Eva knows time is not on her side. Can she defeat the evil at the heart of the camp and get out alive—or will this final installment really be her last?

Alan McDermott

is a husband, father to beautiful twin girls, and a full-time author. Alan lives in the south of England, and in 2014 he swapped writing critical application for the NHS to penning thrillers that have gone on to sell close to a million copies. His debut novel, Gray Justice, was well received and earned him membership of Independent Authors International. That book launched in July 2011, and by the time he’d written the follow-ups, Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption, it had attracted the attention of a major publisher. Alan signed with Thomas & Mercer in 2013 and has now written six novels in the Tom Gray series and a spinoff called Trojan. Alan’s eighth novel introduced a new female lead, Eva Driscoll, and a new thriller series.

Alan can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page   |   Amazon Author page   |   Website   |   blog   |    Facebook    |   Twitter

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Thursday teaser: Forever Still

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Sample the new Vampire Brides novel, launching May 15.

By Corinne O’Flynn

The singer of country song on the car radio promises to make me the queen of his castle. With a name like Delilah Cecelia Elizabeth Rae Worthington, I should have been born a princess at least. But the closest I ever got to anything like that was growing up in Royal Hollywood Mobile Home Estates. Not to let the cliché end there, my father left when I was still in diapers and my mom chased one bad-news boyfriend after the next ever since.

Mama wanted to be an actress. She came to California like a bumpkin off the bus, and instead of working hard and going to auditions, she fell in with the party crowd and got into drinking and drugs. Then she got pregnant with me. I’m not disparaging her; she was always the first one to tell her story like that. She told me it was her cautionary tale about staying focused. 

She’d always remind me about it while I was finishing high school, then when I was in college working on my bachelors in nursing. 

“Nobody can ever take an education away from you, Delilah.” She’d poke her cigarette hand at me. “Don’t do what I did. You keep your head down and you work hard. Don’t give in to the temptations.” She said it like there was an official list of tempting things to be avoided. Maybe there is.

I did all right, in general. I finished school and I am a nurse, I don’t drink much, I don’t smoke, and I have never done drugs. But, in the boyfriend department… well, the spare tire doesn’t roll far from the mobile home.

My boyfriend, Earl—no royalty there either—isn’t much better than many of my mother’s choices. None of this comes as a surprise; I mean, when considering the potential role models of my childhood, the bench isn’t deep. He hit me so hard last night that I spun around. When I opened my eyes I was face-to-face with the two urns containing my mother and her fiancé, Cleveland’s ashes.

Something in me had snapped to attention as I stared at my mother’s urn. I heard her voice in my head saying, Stop this. Break away. You don’t have to live like this, Darlin’ D! And that’s all it took. I decided in that moment to change my life. 

I’ve never been one to stress about choices. I make up my mind and I do the thing. So, I waited for Earl to get the beating out of his system, and then I dropped an Ambien in his beer when I served him his dinner. Once he was asleep, I cleaned my stuff out of our mobile home, packed my car full of everything it could hold, and I hit the road.

I don’t have a plan, and I don’t know where I am going to end up, but I do know one thing.

“That’s all behind me now.” I speak to my reflection in the rear-view and touch my fingertip to the bruise that’s been rising on my cheek all night. It’s a big one, damn it. I’ll need to get some makeup on that when I stop.

Forever Still is one of 11 Paranormal Romance Novellas releasing this month with the Midnight Coven group.

It releases May 15, 2019, and you can pre-order it now.

Love never dies. But it can be damn bloody…

Miles

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after more than five hundred years on this earth, it’s that history always repeats itself, and usually in the worst way possible. So when Delilah checks in to my hotel, all the signs are there—she’s stunningly beautiful, achingly irresistible, and as history has taught me, one-hundred percent dangerous.

The last time I took a chance like this, it broke my heart and almost cost me my immortal life. I’ve managed to survive all these years by heeding the warnings my instincts raise. Ignoring them now feels foolish and short-sighted, but I can’t stay away; she’s everything my soul wants, history be damned.

Delilah

With my mother’s ashes riding shotgun, and my loser ex-boyfriend passed out in our trailer in my rear view mirror, I am finally free. I’ve had enough of being told what to do and how to live. It’s time for me to take charge of my destiny on my terms and see what fate sends my way. When I stop in Lake Tahoe and Miles crosses in my path, it feels like fate is testing me to see if I will throw myself into the the arms of the first guy I meet—just like I always do.

He’s beautiful, kind, and completely enamored—all the things I have never known a man could be. But how can I ever make a new future if I keep reliving my past?

The Midnight Coven presents: Vampire Brides

Tall, dark and handsome, these vampires are no strangers to the art of the hunt. Seduction and secrecy have ruled their lives for centuries, but these eleven alpha vamps are about to meet their matches and say “I do” to their forever mates.

From eleven bestselling paranormal romance authors comes an all new series of standalone novellas set in a shared world. Grab your kindles and get ready to meet your new favorite vampires.

Find all the Brides here at their Facebook group. Join for exclusive updates.

Corinne O’Flynn

is a productivity geek, graphic designer, ghostwriter, and the author of an ever-growing list of fantasy and mystery novels and short stories.

Married, raising four kids, she is the founder and executive director of a non-profit organization, and a professional napper. She also serves on the board for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW).

You can check out all of her books on her website or on Amazon.

Anyone interested in staying connected can sign up for her emailsWhether you’re a fan of mystery or fantasy stories, or a fellow busy human looking for ways to build your own productivity systems, Corinne O’Flynn invites you to join her as she shares what she learns on her adventures.

“I believe in doing things with intention, and making sure those intentions are good. :)”

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Thursday teaser preview: The Bonding Blade

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Book 2 in the Desert Goddess series

By M.L. Doyle

Now available for pre-order.

In my previous life, before I’d become a soldier and deployed to Iraq, I’d never have imagined that I would be running around in caves searching for supernatural creatures. All of that changed when I picked up a shiny coin in the desert and became the living vessel of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna. I know. It sounds crazy.

There is nothing crazy about it, my vessel, said Inanna, her voice heard only by me inside my head. I have traveled throughout millennia, operating in the supernatural world. As the goddess of love and war, plenty and …

Yes, I know, I said, mentally rolling my eyes. You’re a goddess, you’re amazing, yada yada yada.

English may not be my first language, but I am certain yada is not a word.

Whatever!

Sometimes, my head felt crowded with my thoughts along with hers.

So unnecessarily insolent, she grumbled.

I watched as Rashid followed me up and away from the rat stampede. “Watch out for the stalagmites,” I yelled, my voice almost drowned out by the rush of rodents flowing through the cave.

Photo by Andy Mabbett, licensed under Creative Commons

“Stalactites,” Rashid shouted back.

“What?” I said.

“They are stalactites, my queen. Stalagmites are the ones that come up from the ground.” He had quickly, but far more calmly followed me to the higher perch and away from the rush of rodents.

“Okay, stalagtites.”

“Ah, it is, stalactites, my queen,” Rashid said. “With a k sound. Stalactites.”

I gave him a hard stare. “How is it you can speak English better than I can?” My Persian warrior spoke with a precise, clipped accent. Long hair, thick eyelashes, high cheekbones and naturally tanned skin made him movie-star handsome, which completely masked how deadly he could be in a fight.

“I can do nothing better than you can, my goddess.” A sly smile accentuated his snide remark.

Along with the goddess in my head came a few other accessories, like two warriors; Rashid and Quincy who are sworn to serve me. I also have two cougar-sized war cats for protection; Granite and Pearl, both of whom can switch into human form when necessary. Not to mention, becoming Inanna’s vessel made me immortal and gave me supernatural strength and the ability to propel myself from here to there. Oh, and there’s also a demigod. But I’m not speaking to him.

Precisely, my vessel. Such an infuriating man.

Photo by ZulaikhaN; licensed under Creative Commons

“Can we concentrate on what the fuck we’re doing here?” Quincy yelled at us from the other side of the stream. His raised voice and his barely contained fury made his usually pleasant, freckled face almost unrecognizable. He stood where we had left him, directly in the path of the thousands of rats that flowed from deep within the vast cave system directly under downtown Minneapolis. He remained rooted to the spot even as rats scrambled over and around his feet, making it appear as if he stood shin deep in oozing, thick mud.

“They’re obviously running from something,” he said, pointing his sword in the direction from which they came. “How much you wanna bet it’s the trolls?”

The Bonding Blade

Can the embodiment of an ancient goddess live a balanced life in modern times?

Former Army Sergeant Hester Trueblood struggles to find the answer, seven years after fate bonded her to the ancient Sumerian Goddess, Inanna. Whether engaging in battles to the death with demons or entering fight club scraps, Hester’s life is forever subjected to Inanna’s whims and insatiable lust. It hasn’t been easy to juggle the mounting perilous challenges, or to tolerate the demands of her demi-god lover, Gilgamesh.

When her warrior Quincy is stricken with a mysterious illness, Hester thinks a supernatural blade could be the answer to save him. Or it just might destroy the world.

One thing is for sure. Nobody is immune from the painful reality of loss and suffering—not even a goddess.

The Bonding Blade publishes on June 20. Pre-order it now.

M.L. Doyle

has served in the US Army at home and abroad for more than three decades as both a soldier and civilian. She calls on those experiences in her award-winning Master Sergeant Harper mystery series, her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series, erotic romance writing and coauthored memoirs which all feature women who wear combat boots.

Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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Thursday teaser: Freckled

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A Memoir of Growing Up Wild in Hawaii

By Toby Neal

At preschool I heard the ladies talking about ESP. There are two kinds of ESP: the kind where you hear other people’s thoughts, and the kind where people can make other people do what they want just with their thoughts. 

I always listen to grownups so I can know things— “Elephant ears” Mom calls me. Grandma Gigi, Pop’s mom, believes in ESP too. “I can tell when you’re thinking about me, so that’s when I call,” Gigi says. She does usually call when we need something, and I love when her packages come in the mail, even though Pop grumbles that I’m getting spoiled.

I want to have the make-people-do-stuff kind of ESP.

We’re at dinner, and the sun has gone down behind the ocean. I can hear the surf outside; it’s coming up bigger with a shushing sound.

“Should be good tomorrow,” Pop says, sipping his beer. Because my dad’s a surfer, we always pay attention to what the surf is doing and the weather conditions. There’s “onshore,” which means the wind is in my face off the ocean and that’s bad for surf—I don’t really know why. Then there’s “offshore,” which is best to make the waves good, and “Konas,” which means the wind is light and from the side. 

Mom is sitting between Pop and me. Her tummy is super big, almost touching the table, and she’s wearing her favorite blue muumuu that she sewed herself. There are some oven-baked fries, special because they are not goodforyou, and fish Pop caught, and Mom’s salad with bean sprouts. We have white plates with a flower border, a milk bottle filled with daisies, Mom’s favorite flower, and everything is pretty and good.

Even after he smoked today, Pop was still grumpy. I can see how he’s feeling like a black cloud over his head. Bad things can happen when I make him mad, and I do that a lot because I’m noisy and too bouncy. I’m always trying to get him to like me and see that I’m smart and can do things as good as a boy. Because I was supposed to be a boy and be named James Theodore the Third. 

Mom and Pop didn’t know what to call me when I was a girl, so they named me Toby after the redheaded boy who runs away to the circus in a movie Mom watched at the hospital. I have no middle name because “when you’re old enough, you can choose your own middle name.” This worries me. How do I pick the right name? I wish I could just be named James Theodore the Third, even if I am a redheaded girl.

Maybe I can make Pop do something with ESP. 

PICK UP THE KETCHUP, I think. PICK UP THE KETCHUP. PICK UP THE KETCHUP. 

Pop looks up at me. His green eyes have red around them. The overhead light shines on his curling blond hair, going thin at the top. I stare at him, my lips moving, as I think as hard as I can—PICK UP THE KETCHUP.

“What are you looking at?” His voice is a low thunder sound. He narrows his eyes. I don’t look away or answer. He’s going to PICK UP THE KETCHUP any second now. I just know it!

“Stop staring at me.” Pop gets louder and seems to swell.

I can tell how mad he’s getting, but I stare until my eyes hurt because I can feel it almost working—he’s going to hear me any minute now. I don’t blink. I want to be scary: eyes wide, mouth tight, staring hard as I think PICK UP THE KETCHUP. I will make him do what I want!

“I said stop looking at me, disrespectful little brat!” He stands up and his chair flies back and lands on the linoleum with a thud. He’s enormous. 

My mom makes fluttery noises, but it’s too late. Roaring something I don’t hear, he comes around the table and whips me off the chair by my hair. I crash onto the floor and hold onto my head and use my legs to hold myself up, trying to keep from being dragged—it hurts so bad, as he hauls me down the hall, but I won’t cry. I’m stubborn like that. I’m not afraid of pain.

I’m still thinking, PICK UP THE KETCHUP. Like it’s going to save me. Like he can hear me.

But he doesn’t. 

**Download Freckled and continue reading now!**

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Freckled

For fans of The Glass Castle and Educated, comes mystery author Toby Neal’s personal story of surviving a wild childhood in paradise.

We never call it homeless. We’re just “camping” in the jungle on Kauai…

We live in a place everyone calls paradise. Sure, Kauai’s beautiful, with empty beaches, drip-castle mountains, and perfect surf…but we’ve been “camping” for six months, eating boiled chicken feed for breakfast, and wearing camouflage clothes so no one sees us trespassing in our jungle hideout. The cockroaches leave rainbow colors all over everything from eating the crayons we left outside the tent, and now a tractor is coming to scrape our camp into the river.

Standing in front of the tent in my nightgown, clinging to my sister as we face the tractor, I know my own truth: I just want to be normal.

But Mom and Pop are addicted.

Addicted to Kauai’s beauty, to drugs, to surfing, to living a life according to their own rules out from under their high-achieving parents’ judgmental eyes. I’m just their red-headed, mouthy, oldest kid. What I want doesn’t matter.

But I’m smart. I will make a different life for myself someday if I keep up my grades no matter what happens.

No matter how often we run out of food.

No matter how many times I change schools…or don’t go to school at all.

No matter how many bullies beat me up for the color of my skin.

I might be growing up wild in Hawaii, but I have dreams I’m going to reach, no matter how crazy things get.

Toby Neal

Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories. Neal’s mysteries and thrillers explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Fans call her stories, “Immersive, addicting, and the next best thing to being there.”

Neal also pens romance, romantic thrillers, and writes memoir/nonfiction under TW Neal.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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Monday musings: The inspiration of memory

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By David C. Cassidy

Do memories inspire my writing?

Human Chess at the World Bodypainting Festival in Pörtschach am Wörthersee, Carinthia, Austria.
Photo by JIP – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41470182

In a word, yes. I have always had a vivid imagination, one that’s immensely visual, and that shines through in all of my stories. But at another level, recollections of past events—whether they happened to me or to others—have always inspired my writing in one way or another.

In Fosgate’s Game, a creepy tale of greed, dark magic, and murder, I pit two well-to-do Englishmen in a battle of wits over something as innocuous as a game of chess. It’s not that simple, of course, as they’re playing with dark forces that neither truly comprehends. The story was actually inspired by a memory of me playing chess as a young boy against one of my brothers. During a rather lengthy turn where he was taking his sweet time to make a move, my mind began to drift, and I began to wonder what might happen if the chessmen were somehow alive.

The Dark is an atmospheric supernatural thriller where a young child has lost his father in a dreadful accident, and in his desperation, is seduced by an ever-present evil that draws him into another realm—a wondrous place that includes his father. In my younger days, I used to enjoy tobogganing down this rather treacherous sledding hill in a park, and on one particularly fast run, I nearly spilled into an ice-cold creek at the bottom. I was this close to disaster, barely stopping myself in time. It was getting rather dark, and when I picked up my sled and turned to head back up the hill to go home, I suddenly froze, staring up at this towering—and rather ominous—oak tree. It just startled me, and to this day, I don’t know why. It was just one of those eerie moments when one gets a case of the chills for no obvious reason. Little did I know then that that hill and that very tree would be the basis for an award-winning novel.

A short story of mine, Never Too Late, was inspired by a deeply painful personal event. The story is a cautionary tale about regret—how we all, at one time or another, figure we have all the time in the world—only to learn the agonizing truth when the unexpected happens. Years ago, my mother passed away quite suddenly, and I was devastated. I never spent nearly enough time with my parents, always figuring there was plenty of time for that. You know, I’ll seem them soon. I’ll make time later. Well, I was wrong. It was the hardest lesson I ever learned.

Velvet Rain, a supernatural thriller with elements of time-travel and alternate realities, was not so much inspired by memories or personal events. And yet, a lot of the characters in the book, including the main character, Kain Richards, possess those human frailties and personal characteristics of people I’ve known—including family. One character, Al Hembruff, a no-nonsense farmer in 1960s Iowa, at one point refers to his daughter, Lynn, as “honey-child”. My father, God rest his soul, used to call his own daughters the very same. I hadn’t heard him say it in years, but as I was writing Velvet Rain, the memory came back, and it just seemed to work in the moment.

In all honesty, I don’t consciously write out of memory—I write out of inspiration and imagination—but I certainly don’t discount the subconscious when it strikes. If the shoe fits, I wear it.

David C. Cassidy

The award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several chilling books of horror and suspense. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating tales of terror where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.

David lives and plays in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and workouts, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

Get to know David at his:

And follow him on Twitter @DavidCCassidy.

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