A couple of years ago when I was nearing the reality of being published, I had to make a decision about what name I would be published under. I knew it wasn’t a good idea to publish under my own name. I had a corporate identity and a family to think of. My real world and the fantasy world around my writing didn’t mesh. I borrowed from my maternal great grandmother Tereasa Clair (who I was named after) and her husband Guy Collins and I created Claire Collins.
As Claire Collins, I… she… we (?) wrote Images of Betrayal, and Fate and Destiny. We started Seeds of September and planned to finish it last summer but then that whole real world stepped back in and I took a hiatus from writing.
Somewhere along the way, I had stepped back from writing so far that I decided I would never finish my third novel, not to mention the six other novels jostling for position behind it. Along the way, my fantasy writing world became my real world when I gave up my corporate job and 9 to 5 employee life, packed up my house and family, and moved to North Carolina to manage Barnhill’s Bookstore. We hit our grand opening last weekend and now I’m settling into this whole new life. I think part of this new life includes Second Wind Publishing and Seeds of September, but if I do, I’m going to write under my own name instead of my alias.
Most writers are avid readers. They have a love for the written word that pulls them to paper and pen or more precisely in this day and age, to the keyboard. The computer has become an extension of ourselves and we are as comfortable with it as we are with our remote controls and driving a car.
Other people may have a similar love for movies or theater and take up acting to be a part of the world they love. Would the writer and reader be more visually perceptive than the actors and theater people? Which group would likely have a deeper level of imagination?
I don’t believe there is any right or wrong answer. My husband is certainly a movie person and I swear there are dozens of characters living in his head. My best friend and sister are both the same way while also being creative and talented authors. My husband doesn’t read at all. I read my novels to him. Reading the books aloud also helped me to edit as I read.
Now, let’s talk about you. Are you a movie person? A book person? Is there a hidden actor or author within you? Maybe all of the above? If you’re a mixture of both, do you read the book and then go see the movie? If you see the movie, do you refuse to touch the book? Are you at the point where you watch movies or read books on your computer or on a handheld device such as Kindle, or game systems such as PSP. Would you read a book or watch a movie on your phone?
The line between pen and paper and the keyboard as well as the silver screen and the digital world are all blurring together faster than I can keep up!
Claire Collins is the author of the romantic suspense novels Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny, both available from Second Wind Publishing, LLC.
My mother ran her own business, starting with craft shows when I was only about five years old. I always went with her so I learned to make change at a very young age. I also learned how to smile and be polite to make the sale. When the crowds were slow, I learned to watch people and I would make up stories about them in my head. What else was a child supposed to do while working for eight to ten hours?
The mannerisms and actions of the people walking by the booth would portray what was going on in their lives. The ones who walked by very quickly had no interest in what we were selling, their minds set reaching their destination. The mother’s who walked by with strollers were usually moving much slower, the stroller still rolling back and forth while they stopped to look at baby blankets. A wayward child would wander by with a frantic mother coming soon after in search of them. I learned to watch their eyes. The eyes gave way to internal dialogue. This customer loved the items and would have paid twice what we were asking, or another person may have had a longing for the item, but the price was too high and they had to weigh what adjustments they could make and how much they really wanted the item. Most of those people came back.
When they paid for the items, I noticed their hands. Long graceful hands with sculpted fingernails always made me think of someone with disposable income. Women with chipped nail polish and weathered hands reminded me of the middle aged mother who still wanted to remember that she was a woman, but spent more time on her family than herself.
Dirty or calloused hands belonged to people who used their hands to work. It’s nothing to sacrifice a chunk of skin if you hands are bringing something broken back to life.
All of these observations paved the way for me to create characters. It’s very important that a character is a fully rounded person, from the way they stand, the way they walk, the way they move their hands are all just as important as what they look like while they move and what their hands look like. Character development isn’t only about the words they speak or the events around them. It’s about the unique mannerisms they posses and the mindless unspoken clues they unconsciously carry.
I love research. I love it so much that I get wrapped up in the research and forget what the purpose of the research was to begin with. In college, I worked in the library. I was in research heaven surrounded by all of those volumes of information. I have a genealogy file with over 20,000 individuals in it that I work on in my spare time. One of my incomplete novels started in the year 1956. Since my mother was only a child at the time, I have no direct knowledge of this period, so I started researching. I became totally wrapped up in the history and evolution of Route 66 meandering through Arizona. I was certain this would be an integral part of my story. I bookmarked tons of webpages, went to the library and checked out books, and began a mental journey along the path Route 66 took before the Interstate Highway System was in place. In fact, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was approved on June 29th, only a few months before my story began in September of 1956.
The appeal of the open road pre-interstate appealed to me. Drive-in’s, bobby socks, and rock and roll all had their places outlined in my story.
Then, I started writing the novel. The characters took over and evolved my facts and figures into a story about people. The path Route 66 followed is barely touched on in the book. The music and clothes that defined a generation are simply garments and background noise. All of my research, all of the details of life during that time are put aside.
The book isn’t going to be about what they wore or listened to. It isn’t about popularity or fads.
It’s about people, and people are basically the same throughout time.
Collins: I wanted to give the readers of “Fate and Destiny” a little more insight into the characters, so today, I am here with Shadow.
Collins: Hey, Shadow.
Shadow: (Puts his paw up to shake)
Collins: You’re a good boy.
Shadow: (Tail wags)
Collins: I heard you found a body in the woods.
Shadow: Barks (runs in circles)
Collins: What did you think of her?
Shadow: (Head and shoulders down on the ground, back end wiggling happily. His tail goes crazy)
Collins: You like Destiny, huh? She must be a good person.
Shadow: (Rolls over to have his tummy scratched)
Collins: But didn’t she shoot you?
Shadow: Whimpers (Rolls over and plays dead)
Collins: That’s how you were, and you still like her?
Shadow: (Jumps up, barks, and wags the tail more)
Collins: What did you think of Charles DeMont?
Shadow: Snarls then growls
Collins: Down boy. We won’t talk about him anymore.
Shadow: (Raises one eyebrow and cocks his head)
Collins: Thanks for coming today Shadow. It’s always a pleasure rubbing your tummy.
Shadow: (Puts up paw to shake)