Conversations With Characters

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Recently, I was thinking about which 2 or 3 fictional characters I would like to sit down with over coffee, tea, or beer and with whom I would like to have a conversation.  When I first thought about it, I believed it would be an easy choice to make, but then I realized that there were so many that I would have to do this in parts. I would love to have conversations with so many different characters.

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For the initial meeting, I thought I would extend an invitation to Merlin from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, Gandalf from J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, (not from The Hobbit), and Dumbledore from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to join me over beer, mead, or even butterbeer, if that were preferable at a nice Public House.  I chose  these characters because they are central figures in three works that are deeply important to me, not only from the perspective of study but also from the enormous pleasure I have had from reading these works. I have taught all of them in different classes, and I love to reread these writings over the years.

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I am fascinated by the connection among the three of them, all wizards in tales of British mythology. Among the questions I would want to ask would be: Do you see a connection among yourselves? Do you approve of your portrayals in the writings? and Are you descended from the Druids?

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I think this would be a lively and enjoyable conversation, although if too much was drunk, I wonder what inebriated and arguing wizards would be like.

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Who would you invite to such an event?  I would love to hear your choices.

 

 

Absence of Evidence by M. C. Tuggle

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Neurodivergence and Mystery

by M. C. Tuggle

One of the themes I keep returning to in my writing is the disconnect between modern norms and human needs. The resulting clash is hard on everyone, but especially so for autistic individuals. Both work and educational norms require people to sit all day, which is pure agony for someone bursting with energy and curiosity, whose natural instinct is to ramble and explore the world around them.

Similarly, a society that’s scrapped traditional codes of behavior is a nightmare for those who seek the comfort of structure and proper protocol, standards that once guided and sheltered individuals in potentially awkward interactions. this has critically eroded social connections. And that’s a tragedy, because the loss of connections impairs individual development.

That’s the driving theme in my novelette “Absence of Evidence“, now in the latest issue of Mystery Weekly Magazine. The protagonist, Treka Dunn, is a former combat nurse who can fix anything from shrapnel wounds to barracks plumbing. Now the chief medical examiner at the Gilead, Missouri, county morgue, she faces budget cuts, a growing backlog, and family pressures. So when her cursory exam of Davis Washburn’s body reveals no evidence of foul play, she’s ready to move on to her next corpse.

But Ron Washburn, the victim’s son, is convinced his father was poisoned. Ron, who is autistic, struggles to convince Treka and Officer Jerry Simms, who investigated Washburn’s death. Treka agrees to run a toxicology test, which reveals–nothing. When she tries to explain her findings to Ron, he mentions a seemingly insignificant detail that Treka can’t explain – and she realizes a murderer is about to get away with the perfect crime.

My primary motivation in researching and writing this story is that I love offbeat characters, a challenging mystery, and juicy technical details. But another thing that inspired this story is my experience with InReach a service agency that provides assistance to folks with learning disabilities. My wife and I support this organization. InReach’s annual luncheons, which give sponsors the opportunity to meet the people their donations aid, have deeply moved us.

So the character Ron Washburn is based in part on the life experiences of several of the InReach clients we’ve met. I can only hope the character I’ve drawn reflects the dignity, sense of purpose, and pride of those clients. Treka Dunn is the protagonist of “Absence of Evidence,” but Ron Washburn is the driving force behind Treka’s quest for justice.

In fact, “Absence of Evidence” reinforces the theme of social and individual integrity in its interplay of characters and plot. The murderer is a sociopath disconnected from human relationships, while the three main characters reflect the unity of a healthy personality — Treka Dunn is the mind, Officer Jerry Simms the body, and Ron Washburn, the spirit. All three are unique individuals who aid and sustain each other. And that’s the kind of people we all aspire to be.

Mystery Weekly Magazine is a Mystery Writers of America approved publisher, and is available in digital and print formats on Amazon.

M. C. Tuggle lives and writes in Charlotte, North Carolina. His fantasy, science fiction, and mystery short stories have appeared in several publications, including Mystery Weekly, Hexagon, and Metaphorosis. He blogs on all things literary at https://mctuggle.com/

I want to thank M. C. Tuggle for his guest post. Please be sure to go to his excellent site!

Revisiting Characters From My First Novel, Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 by Charles F. French

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This entry is one of several posts I wrote about some of the characters in my first novel. I hope you enjoy it.

Roosevelt Theodore Franklin, the protagonist of my supernatural horror thriller Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I, is a retired History professor, living in Bethberg, a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. He is a deeply complex man, influenced by, among other things, his service in the Vietnam War and the profound and loving marriage with his now deceased wife.

Roosevelt has several deep enjoyments in life—eating, drinking good whisky, especially single malt Scotch, and smoking high level cigars, but his primary passion in life is books. A visitor to his home would notice, more than anything else, the enormous number of bookcases lining many of the walls in his house. Roosevelt’s home is an old Victorian home that he and his wife Sarah had purchased and renovated shortly after their marriage.

While she did have a large room dedicated to being her art studio, an avocation she loved, even while being a surgeon, and Roosevelt had a large room that was his studio, smoking room and library, other rooms also were filled with books of many kinds and conditions. Roosevelt, although a man of financial means, is not a book collector. He believes that books should be read and not simply owned to be put on display. He thinks that the words in a piece are what make the book important, not a fine leather cover or being a first edition. He places worth on the ideas, the stories, the tales, the histories, and the communications in books and not their potential monetary value.

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At one point, he tried to make a calculated estimate of how many books he owned, but he decided it was an almost impossible task, so he stopped the tally when he reached 4000. And no matter how many books he owns, he seems to always find more to buy. Again, he is not a snob when it comes to the owning of books. His snobbery emerges when it comes to whiskey and cigars.

More on that later.

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Available on Amazon

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Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

 

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

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Available on Amazon

French On English

Available on Amazon

 

A Promotion Post For Chris Hall: Chatting With My Characters

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Chatting with my characters

My characters often chat with me, usually in that sleepless hour between three and four in the morning, when they worm their way into my consciousness and strike up a conversation. Some of the principal players from my second novel, You’ll Never Walk Alone, are the most insistent. This recent conversation went the way they usually do, starting with a few flattering comments and then… well, you’ll see.

~~~

I’m sitting with Connor and Cynthia in the patch of garden behind Cynthia’s flat. It’s late summer and bees are buzzing lazily around the neglected rosebushes, echoing the hum of the traffic circling Sefton Park.

Connor fills our glasses and places the almost empty bottle on the peeling wrought iron table. He sits back,  takes a large mouthful of wine and beams at me. ‘I believe congratulations are in order, once again, Ms Hall.’

Cynthia winks at me. ‘Connor was rather interested to discover you’d branched out from writing novels to penning poetry.’

‘Being a poet myself, with several slim volumes of published work under my belt, I feel an even greater empathy with you, my dear,’ says Connor. ‘I’m looking forward to reading your contribution, indeed, I’m looking forward to reading all the work in this new anthology. What’s it called again?’

‘It’s called Creation and the Cosmos, isn’t it darling,’ says Cynthia, patting my arm. ‘We saw a picture of the cover. Beautiful! Like you could lose yourself among the stars.’ Cynthia throws out her arms in a theatrical gesture.

‘And hot on the heels of your latest novel, too!’ Connor picks up the wine bottle and tops up his glass. ‘We thought it was rather good, didn’t we, old thing?

Cynthia winces at the sobriquet. She turns to me. ‘Song of the Sea Goddess, such a lovely story, darling. Such colourful characters. I especially liked your Professor and his little monkey, and I do like the way your writing is developing, only…’ she fiddles with the stem of her glass.

Here it comes.

I pick up my glass and take a generous sip to fortify myself, savouring the taste of the cheap but pleasant Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon which, as always, throws me right back into the early 1980s.

Cynthia continues. ‘We know that you’re busy with the sequel to Sea Goddess, but there have been some recent …’ she makes air quotes with her elegant fingers ‘…developments here. Worrying ones.’ She glances over at Connor.

Connor returns his glass to the table and leans forward on his elbows, hands clasped. ‘I really wouldn’t like to say too much, Ms Hall; potential spoilers for your readers and all that. But would it be too much to ask for you to start giving some proper thought to our sequel?’

~~~

Creation and the Cosmos, edited by tara caribou and featuring poetry and artwork by 32 writers and artists will be released on 23rd March 2021. Available from:

lulu

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Kindle

 

Song of the Sea Goddess is on Amazon: USA – UK – IND – AUS – CAN – ESP – Rest of the World
Or download from kobo

Catch up with Cynthia, Connor and the rest of the gang in You’ll Never Walk Alone through Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Youll-Never-Walk-Alone-Chris/dp/1797875809

 

Chris’s other books are also available on Amazon. Find the links via her website, Luna’s online: www.lunasonline.wordpress.com/books/

 

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How To World And Character Build in a Horror Novel Series by Charles F. French

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I had a wonderful time participating in the HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference 2020. The hosts were friendly and extremely helpful. The information given out by many presenters is useful for writers who are not horror writers as well as those who are. If you have a chance, you can still stop by their excellent site: HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference
Here is part one of my presentation:
How To World and Character Build in a Horror Novel Series
by
Charles F. French
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Part One

 

Character Biography Sheet

The following worksheet is a sample of the kind of biography sheet that I use when writing. I have formed this based on biography sheets I used both as an actor and director, and I find them to be extremely useful in writing fiction. I do not suggest that I have asked all the questions that another writer might of her/his characters, but I hope this sheet is a good way to begin. Feel free to copy it and use it as you will. I find it is most effective when I include as much detail as I can about my characters. Also, please understand that it is unlikely that you will use all of these details in your writing, but knowing these minute parts of your characters will help you both to bring them to life and to bridge their existence over several books.

Physical Characteristics:
 

Height –
Weight –
Body type –
Hair color –
Hair length –
Hair style –
Eye color –
Scars or birthmarks –
tattoos and piercings –

limps or other physical issues –
Family:
 

Mother –
Father –
Siblings –
Cousins –
Emotional relationship with any of them –

Foods:
 

Is the character a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, or other special kind of consumer of foods?
Breakfast:
Eggs – how do they eat them? what style?
Breakfast potatoes – homefries, hashbrowns?
Breakfast meat? what kind?
Toast? what kind of bread?
Bagels? what kind, with toppings?
Fruit? what kind?
Pancakes?
Waffles?
French toast?
What kind of syrup?
Cereal? what kind?
Oatmeal? with what on it?
Cream of wheat?
Other breakfast choices?
Lunch:
Soup? What kind?
Sandwich? What kind? What bread?
Salad? what kind? what kind of dressing?
Pasta dish? what kind?
Fruits? What kind?
Dinner:
Any particular type of food that is a favorite?
What main dishes?
What side dishes?
What salads?
Desserts:
Cakes? What kind –
Pies? What kind –
Ice Cream? what kind and how?
Other baked goods? what kind –
Indulgences:
Candy? What kind?
Cookies? What kind?
Other?
Alcohol:
Beer? What kind –
Wine? What kind –
Whiskey? What kind –
Mixed drinks? What kind –
Coffee or Tea
Coffee? How? black, cream, sugar –
Tea: Caffeine, decaf, herbal, cream, sugar, honey –
Other beverages:
Soda? What kind?
Iced Tea?

Sparkling Water?
Clothing:
 

What do they wear to work?
What do they like to wear at home to relax?
Are they formal or informal dressers?
What kind of shoes do they like to wear?
What kind of coats do they wear in bad weather?

What do they like to wear on vacation?
Entertainment:
 
Books:
 

Do they like to read? What kind of books –
Print or ebook?
Read for work or pleasure?
Favorite authors?
Fiction or nonfiction?
Poetry?
Biography/Memoirs?
Magazines? Which ones –

Television:
 

Series?
Comedy?
Drama?
Horror?
RomCom?
Occasional viewer, faithful viewer, or binge viewer?
Prefer traditional cable or streaming services?
Film:
Comedy?
Drama?
Horror?
RomCom?
Suspence?

Life History:
 
Education:
 

Level of highest education?
What was studied?
Did the character enjoy school or not?

Sexual Orientation:
Straight, gay, bi, trans, other?
Romance History:
 

First love –
Ever Married?
Divorced?
In love now?

Children:
 
How many?
Grandchildren:
 

How many?

Other relatives:
 
Who?
If any of you find this useful, please feel free to use it as you will.

Who Is Your Favorite Fictional Mother?

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In continuing this series about favorite characters, I wanted to turn to fictional mothers.  Obviously mothers are one of the most crucial parts of most families, and that is not different in literature, television, and film.

When thinking about this question, I considered many possible choices, but I decided that my favorite fictional mother is also from a book series that I love — Lily Potter from the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling.

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While we often see or read about Lily Potter in terms of what she did instead of directly, her actions to save the infant Harry Potter from Voldemort’s attacks reaches the level of heroism. She sacrifices her life in order to save her child. This action sets in motion much of the rest of the books in the series.

She is, indeed, a loving, powerful, and heroic mother.  Without her actions, Harry Potter would not have lived to become a student at Hogwart’s School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry.

So, I ask all of you: who is your favorite fictional mother?

Biography Sheets For Characters?

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This is a question for all the writers of fiction who follow my blog or who might read it: do you use biography sheets for characters when you are writing a novel? Using such a sheet, and filling it in with minute detail is something that I do, and something that I learned first from being an actor, when I did this exercise to help to build a character, and then as a director, when I assigned the task to actors.

I realize that I create details that I will probably never use in the actual writing of the novel, but the more I know about the characters, the more easily and effectively I can write about them and help to bring them to life.

When I mention minute detail, such an example would be answering this kind of question: does the character prefer coffee or tea, and how do they take it? Or, do they eat eggs for breakfast, and if so, what is their preferred way–perhaps over easy, scrambled, or poached.

So, I ask you–do you use character biography sheets when you build a character?

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Who Is Your Favorite Fictional Father?

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In continuing with my series on favorite fictional characters, I was thinking about one in particular, so I decided on this question about your favorite fictional father. This man is, in many ways, the image of honor, decency, and courage. He is Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.  The novel has won the Pulitzer Prize and adapted into both a magnificent movie and a currently running drama on Broadway. In the above photograph, Atticus Finch is portrayed by the excellent actor Gregory Peck.

Here are a few quotations from Atticus Finch:

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

“When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sake. But don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ‘em.”

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

So, I ask all of you, who is your favorite fictional father?

 

Who Is Your Favorite Magical Character?

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I am beginning a new series for this blog today about favorite characters.  I will begin with magical/mystical characters, but the one requirement for these choices is that they are from books or poetry or drama–some kind of writing.

When I ask who is your favorite magical/mystical character, I mean specifically any character who can perform magic, not simply someone who appears in a magical world.

For me, this is very difficult, because I have so many from which I can choose; among them are Merlin from Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory, Prospero from The Tempest by Shakespeare, Harry Potter and Dumbledore from The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, and Gandalf from The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. I am sure I am forgetting some, but I will make a choice, and my favorite magical character is Gandalf!

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So,  I ask all of you: who is your favorite magical/mystical character?

More Reviews of Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 by Charles F. French

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“I cannot get enough of this book and never want to put it down. Charles French is a talented writer. This creeps me out but also keeps me wanting more!!! This is my new favorite book.”  

                                                                     Alison

 

“Author Charles French has created an adventure driven horror novel. This book presents loveable good and moral heroes and pits them against horrific evil. As a reader, I enjoyed the author’s detailed and polished writing style. The beautiful friendships between characters was my favorite part of this book. Looking forward to reading books 2 and eventually 3! Gallows Hill (part 2) is now available! I scooped it up and its next on my book list to read!

                                                                   Michael