I was prepared for much of the publishing process. My experience with nonfiction and the research I conducted beforehand helped. There was one thing, though, which neither of these things prepared me for.
Being a writer is a strange thing. Ask any writer and they will tell you we do not live alone in our heads. I live with a miasma of people, their histories and foibles inside my head. They have conversations with each other (which I scramble to jot down in the strangest of places on the note cards I carry), they reveal things to me about themselves, and they act out the dramas which they find themselves enmeshed in.
All inside my head. While I am trying to do other things.
It sounds crazy.
Other writers are nodding their heads, in complete understanding.
People who are not writers often ask, “Aren’t they characters you made up? What do you mean they tell you things and you can’t make them do whatever you want? They aren’t real.”
In my head they are real. It is like having my brain full of imaginary friends.
Then, I did something all writers want to do to the people in their heads. I wrote them down, published them in a book, and now people are reading about the people who live in my head.
The strangest thing has happened to me since then, a convergence.
People are coming up to me and talking to me about my imaginary friends as if they were real. I realize this is a compliment, that they have connected with the characters in a way that makes them real, makes the reader care. It is both hilarious and exhilarating to discuss the motivations of the people I have made up and live in the world I created with other people. I did not expect these conversations and I am enamored of them.
After spending so much time with the characters of Turning Creek, I care for them. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They make me hope for something better in their lives. I want them all to find their purpose and live their life in a way which displays justice, mercy, and love. It breaks my heart to know not all of them will succeed. Most will, but only after much struggle.
Every day, someone else discovers Petra and the gang and it makes me smile to know my characters have taken up residence in someone else’s brain. For a little while, at least.
Want to meet Petra? Lightning in the Dark is available in various formats for your reading pleasure.