Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sympathetic Characters

The other night I was sitting in church waiting for the Christmas Eve service to begin. As ordered by my sister, who directs the choir, we had arrived fifteen minutes early, which was her way of making sure we arrived on time.

Anyway, I'm sitting there listening to the pretty music when suddenly I think of Ciara*, the main (human) character in my vampire series. She had a happy childhood, and Christmas was a big part of that, but as she grew older she came to believe that her family's happiness had been based on a foundation of falsehood (mainly because her parents turned out to be liars and cheats preying on the faith of others). I realized how sad Christmas would make her feel now, having no family and feeling so bitter about religion.

Then I started to feel sad.

There are real people in my life, mind you, who are spending Christmas in poor health and/or spirits. But there I was, sitting in church feeling sorry for poor little Ciara*, who, I should mention again, DOES NOT EXIST.

Have I gone too far in my fictional fantasy life? Or have I invented/discovered/been blessed with such a vivid, complex character that she's become real to me on a deep emotional level? Either way, I haven't felt this close to a character since I wrote Requiem, which is going on eight years now.

The second book in the series, Bad to the Bone, takes place between Halloween and New Year's, so I'll get to deal with her dealing with Christmas next year. In that book, she meets her spirituality issues head-on when a religious cult threatens the lives and livelihoods of her friends.

But first, between now and the middle of February, I get to write Book One, Bad Company, without interruption. No more stopping to do another draft of Eyes of Crow. It's straight sailing at a blistering pace until "The End."

And since I'm twelve pages behind schedule, I better get back to it now.

*that's the proper Irish pronunciation KEY-ra, not See-AIR-ah like that perfume or that pop singer who doesn't know how to pronounce her own name.

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Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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