Ode to the Crystals

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My brother was a generation older than I was, and am for that matter. His was the ‘beat’ generation. I’ve never seen James Dean, or any of his movies. My version of East of Eden had Jane Seymour. But I understand the concept. Every generation has its rebels. Trendsetters. The folks guaranteed to make parents angry. It’s the nature of the generations and a huge part of growing pains.

Even the music as late as the early 1960s reflected the age of the rebel. But he/she wasn’t considered a role model. Not yet, anyway. I remember the Crystals singing, “He’s a rebel” and my brother, tapping a shoe and snapping his fingers in time to the music. I also remember that the rebel wasn’t gonna be any good. Funny what a difference a few years would make. Rebelliousness changed the world we lived in. And most of the rebels of the late 1960s were really, really good. Role models in fact.

That kind of yeast defines my characters. They are not satisfied with the status quo. They are always questing for the truth. Trying to solve the problems of their lives and of the lives of people around them. Are they rebels? Maybe in the strictest sense of the word, but more than that, they are justice seekers. Integrity defines their lives and gives them form. They don’t shrink from challenges and adventures, but rush forward to embrace them. They strive to shape their reality. Make it their own and change the bits they don’t like.

They are rebels in one sense. Hayden Kent and Catherine Swope have taken on a life of their own. I’ve learned the hard way that although I created them, they are not me. On the rare occasions I have tried to force them to see things my way, each has taken over , argued, and won the point. It’s much easier not to fight your characters’ personalities. The writer never wins. Strange as it sounds, part of the joy of writing is watching your characters develop and grow. Sometimes even becoming the writer’s role model.

Rebelliousness is part of the reason I became a mystery writer. Writing a character in charge of his or her world had real appeal to me. One who had all the courage and daring that I did not possess. Yet I was equally drawn to the romance world. The world of survivors. Those who were acted on and overcame their circumstances to find fulfillment. My characters each have bit of that, but they are far braver and more decisive than I am. Shades of character define them, just as they define all of the people in real life.

What about you? Which do you prefer? The strong character who molds his world, or the softer character who figures out coping skills to make the world hers? Maybe a little of both?

Kait Carson writes traditional mysteries with an edge. She loves to meet her readers, new and old. Contact her at kait.carson@gmail.com, facebook.com/kait carsonauthor, or @kaitcarson.

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Author: kaitcarson

I write mysteries set in South Florida. The Hayden Kent series is set in the Florida Keys. Hayden is a SCUBA diving paralegal who keeps finding bodies. Underwater, no one can hear you scream! Catherine Swope is a Miami Realtor with a penchant for finding bodies in the darndest places. I live in an airpark in Fort Denaud, FL with my husband, six cats and three birds. And oh yes, a Piper Cherokee 6 in the hangar!

16 thoughts on “Ode to the Crystals”

  1. Hi Tracey, It really does make for an interesting record collection! And for a collective memory of things you heard about so often that they almost, but not quite, seem like your memories. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I’ve got to go with “a little of both” and I feel about my characters the same way you do. They are not me – in some ways they are stronger. And yes, I learned long ago not to fight them when they have an opinion!

  3. Little of both seems to work best, Mary. Before I wrote I saw a writer named Edna Buchanan speak at a book club I belonged to. She recalled how during Hurricane Andrew she lived on Miami Beach and had not evacuated. When the wind got really bad, and she had to think of worst case options, she said she froze. Then she asked herself what her character, Britt Montero, would do. That’s what she did because Britt was much braver than Edna!

  4. Reading about strong characters is part of the escapism that I enjoy. But softer characters who cope also have admirable inner strengths. They’re different types of books, and I enjoy both!

  5. Kait, I’d love to get a look at your record collection! I used to listen to the Crystals in college, and that’s the kind of music Poly Monroe (of my Material Witness series) likes.

    To answer your question to Theresa, I think strong characters discover the world. Lots of people just exist, but strong ones see things the others don’t.

  6. I like strong characters who make decisions even if they have to change those decisions later. My “pet Peeve” is a character that is so wishy-washy that I want to just shake him or her and scream “What’s wrong with you? Just do something!” Oh, and my other pet peeve is the verb “pad” as in she padded across the room. Now come on, who has ever said that word out loud, really. No one “pads” across a room except in books. We run, shuffle, walk or even drag ourselves across the room; we never “pad!” Just saying….

  7. Hadn’t really thought about this but I guess I’d go for the one who works behind the scenes to get things going the way they want. that kind of describes me – I’m usually not loud or bold. I’m getting more assertive but I’m still not to the point where I would just do what I wanted. Have to think about that some more.

  8. @Diane,let’s just say it goes from Bill Haley to Lady Antebellum! Does Poly like Patience and Prudence too? That was one of my favorites when my mother would play it – and my brother would groan!

  9. Hi 3 no 7 – First, congratulations on winning the Mysteristas swag bag, we all hope you like the books. Love the ‘pad’ comment. I hadn’t thought about it before, but you are so right! Now my cats, they pad, except when they’re upstairs and I’m downstairs, they sound like they like they have steel feet!

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