Guest Post: The Pitalls of Creation, by Heather Haven

I’m in the process of creating a protagonist for a new humorous mystery series, called Persephone Cole and the _______ (insert subject here). It’s agony. Getting to know a person — even a fictitious one — takes time, thought, energy, trial and error. Sometimes they get pissed off and you don’t know why. Sometimes they laugh when you think they should cry. You thought they’d like bagels in the morning but they don’t. A living, breathing character, even one on paper, has a will of his or her own. It’s maddening.

It brings to mind the latest of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Death Runs in the Family, which debuts in May. One of the central characters takes off for Rio de Janeiro, just like that, out of the blue. I mean, excuse me? I don’t know anything about Rio de Janeiro. I’ve never been to Rio de Janeiro. I’m sure it’s a terrific place, but come on; I’ve got a novel to write. Then this character has the effrontery to park herself in Ipanema, a fancy schmancy beachside community, and at a pretty posh place. What now? So I did scads of research, which took me weeks and weeks, cursing the day this character was born, even though I birthed her. Some kids are really ungrateful.

Thank Gawd, Lee Alvarez, the protagonist for the Alvarez Family series, has never betrayed me like this…yet. I’m waiting. I need to be careful. Every now and then Lee does something I’m not expecting her to do. She isn’t your typical protagonist and it’s starting to worry me. She’s funny, impulsive, smart, talented, loves dancing, handbags and a good joke. She knows her own worth, but has moments of self-doubt. She also has a mind of her own. These are all recipes for danger for the wretched author.

Agatha Christie hated Hercule Poirot. She wanted to dump him like crazy, unwrite him, banish him. She was sick and tired of him going his way when she wanted him to go hers. Like Arthur Conan Doyle, she even killed him off. But Holmes came back four years later and I suspect Poirot is wandering around London searching for an unsuspecting author to give him voice. I say, be careful England’s writers. Avoid any egg-shaped little guy with a mustache.

But back to me and my characters. I keep creating these strong women with minds of their own who breathe disdain for anyone who tells them what to do. Pity this poor novelist. I’m in for it, I can tell.


Heather is a story teller by nature and loves the written word. In her career, she’s written short stories, novels, comedy acts, plays, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and even ghost-wrote a book.
Her first two novels of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Murder is a Family Business, and A Wedding To Die For are now out in bundle at MuseItUp Publishing:
The 3rd of the series, Death Runs in the Family, will be out in May 2012. Heather says they are a joy to write. She gets to be all the characters, including the cat! She lives in San Jose, California, with her husband and, yes, two cats.
Follow Heather’s blog at:
Murder is a Family Business Youtube book trailer:
A Wedding to Die For Youtube book trailer:
Follow Lee’s daily Twitters at: http://twitter. com/PILeeAlvarez

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7 Responses to Guest Post: The Pitalls of Creation, by Heather Haven

  1. Heather, thanks for being my guest today.

  2. Heather Haven says:

    Thanks for having me. A real class act! This was a lot of fun, too!

  3. Dale Thompson says:

    Boy, are you right about unruly characters! You have to watch out for them from the get-go, or they’ll take you an a wild goose chase. On the other hand, if they’re too docile, spell it dull and a good substitute for No-Doz. LOL

  4. Barbara Ehrentreu says:

    What I love is characters who write their own story. You had one thing planned for them and suddenly they are inserting themselves into the story even if you only wanted them for filler. That’s what happened with the character I wrote as a foil for the secondary character in my just published novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. He insinuated himself into scenes and suddenly he was a love interest. I swear it was all his doing.:)
    Barbara Ehrentreu recently posted..Meet Guest Author Pat McDermott

  5. Maggie says:

    I’m sorta glad characters can get rather vocal. If not, certain scenes I wrote for them would remain and seem…out of character. But if the character insists they’d never do that and let me know how to properly write the scene, I smile afterwards, pleased they always speak their mind.
    Maggie recently posted..Bad boys – part two

  6. J. Aday Kennedy says:

    I love strong characters. They’re so fun to write. FYI -The title says Pitalls. I think you meant PitFalls. I’m forever making little Typos & would luv people to tell me. Hope i didn’t offend.

  7. Aday, thanks for catching that.