When characters are as real as life

In The Worlds Within there is an ancient Jaunter named Janus Riberin. I hope to have a picture drawn of him some day. He carries a gnarled wooden staff laden with runes earned over millennia. Overrobes, deep blue and velvet, cover him from shoulder to toe, and for reasons known only to him, he wears a monocle over his right eye.

I’ve known Janus for over twelve years. He sat in the chair near my bed one evening and said, “You have a very interesting overpart.”

I had no idea what he was saying, but so began the story that today is The Worlds Within. I didn’t know when my protagonist, Aedinn Finn, would meet Janus, but during a recent morning of writing Janus decided that it was time to meet Finn. When that happened I put down my pen. Finn had been seeking out Janus throughout the story. You see, Janus could answer many of the questions Finn had. For the entire length of the novel Finn had wanted to meet Janus.

But when he finally did, Finn, like me, lost his voice. I put down my pen and did not write the scene for two days. There was Janus. Finally. Finally we could talk. But I didn’t know what to say.

When I felt ready to ask questions. When Finn felt ready to ask questions, the conversation lasted several pages. Not all of the conversation will end up in the book, because afterwards I realized that I had Finn asking questions for me.

Talking to Janus was an odd experience. He’s a fictional character, but I’d built him up in my mind for over ten years to the point where he was as real as any person.

One thought on “When characters are as real as life

  1. Our characters have a tendency to run away with their stories, and take you, the author, miles out of your intended journey. Yep, been there! I’ve found the best thing to do is just go with it, and see where it takes you. Sometimes, it’s a better place than you’d imagined. I have lived with my character, Annalee, since I was about fourteen. She surfaced under a different name in my first teenage attempt at novel writing, and just never really went away.

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