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 firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/kait carsonauthor, or @kaitcarson.