I've been very pleased with the positive response The Charity is getting from new readers. One question I often get is people wondering who the characters are based on. I found that it's not as easy to answer that question as I would have thought.
Some of the characters tripped off my fingers and were introduced to me through the scene. When I closed my eyes I could see and hear them and then tried my best to describe what it was they had to say. Many writers have their scenes outlined and their character profiles all mapped out before they even write their first word. I applaud their organization but certainly fail miserably in those efforts. I had a location for a scene in my head and knew the direction the story had to go. The citizens of that location became actors on a stage. I merely watched the action and took down notes.
That said, I also knew that there had to be a fly in the ointment. Other characters I created had a specific purpose in mind. The Charity has a world that holds itself in a delicate balance - a balance that is easy offset when attention is brought to it. My story needed a device or two that would upset that balance, so two characters were born. One character is a dynamic social maven and the other is an ambitious reporter. Candidly, I've been surprised by how much the reporter has resonated with readers. She (the reporter) really hits a nerve. I'm glad. My book isn't supposed to be a "feel good" romp. It's frightening and I'm glad I've created characters that add to the tension.
One of the most gratifying statements about my book came in a conversation this week with a new fan. She said lost a lot of sleep staying up to read the book (a comment I get a lot) and lost sleep worrying about Jessica Wyeth, the main character. She became really emotionally invested in Jessica and found herself rooting for Jessica. The clincher for me came when she talked about finishing the book. My reader said she really missed Jessica, that she missed the world that was created in The Charity, and that she missed the characters and wanted to spend more time with them.
Wow. I can't tell you how awesome that was to know my goal was accomplished. I created a story and a world that took people away from their own lives for a while and gave them something they could hold on to-a feeling that they had found a friend in a character I created.