EVIL LIVES--TURN ON TH ENEWS, OPEN YOUR LAPTOP, PICK UP A NEWSPAPER.
So it seems appropriate to face this fact, even in fiction. But I'm a mild person who avoids even the most minor conflict in person, who yearns for a world in which armies and bombs and battles are obsolete.
Yet novels thrive on conflict. Creating characters, especially those whose personality and goals are the very opposite of mine, always presents a challenge. Producing imaginary people who are as memorable as MacBeth or Nurse Ratched, to make them stalk the pages as believable, demands more than imagination. It demands an understanding of the effects of nature and nurture. This is where my education in psychology (the Gestalt Approach) and theater (the Stanislavski Method) become invaluable.
For a self-centered cheater in my novel DOUBLE DECEPTION I employed “the magic if.” How would I feel if I’d been abandoned by my mother at birth, left in the hospital and then adopted by demanding parents who always made me feel I was somehow lacking? If my husband lost interest in me after the birth of our child, and a suave and charming man offered me the reassurance and admiration I needed?
For a brutal criminal I contemplated the psychology of a boy who’d been raised in a series of foster homes, thrown out onto the streets at fourteen and had to make his way on the streets. Offered a "tribe" and a brotherhood of older criminals, wouldn’t it be natural to find satisfaction and success in the gang?
First I consider the forces that combine to create a certain type of individual. Then I search for quirks of personality, physical attributes, manners and morals that contribute to their individuality.I meditate and search my own soul for the emotions I feel and the emotions I suppress and deploy them as appropriate for my characters.
Writing brings into play all of the accumulated knowledge and experiences of one’s life, the ability to walk in another’s shoes, the excitement and pleasure of playing many different roles. In my real life I’m a staid, modest, law abiding, and considerate human being. But on the page I can live an adventure every day as I become a hardened killer, a wily detective, or a femme fatal.