by Patricia Stoltey, mystery writer and guest columnist
Thanks so much for letting me visit your website, Mark. You’ve given me a chance to tell your readers about a bittersweet experience I had while writing Dead Wrong.
When I recruited Fat Ass Sammy Grick to be the bad guy in my first standalone suspense novel, I had no idea I was going to become so attached I’d have a hard time letting him go.
Many women, of course, are drawn to bad boys. But we think of devilish risk-taking characters–handsome guys with bedroom eyes, a little dangerous but not bad enough to do us harm, except perhaps to our hearts.
Sammy? Sammy wasn’t handsome. He had an ugly glare and a temper that flared at whoever was handy when he made one of his frequent stupid mistakes. To tell the truth, he was a nasty good-for-very-little thug. And I loved him from the very beginning.
I decided to write a multiple point of view novel and give Sammy a voice. He seemed a worthy adversary for Lynnette, a woman already on the run. She had no idea she was about to tangle with such a despicable lowlife.
And I had no idea I was going to get so attached to Sammy. He was like my inner creep who needed to get out and flex his muscles. When I wrote Sammy’s chapters, I became one with Sammy.
Sammy cussed. He cussed a lot. I began to mumble his dialogue as I typed. It felt good.
Some of Sammy’s actions caused Lynnette to react in unpredictable ways. I liked seeing her handle those twists and turns, so I gave Sammy free rein.
When Sammy’s gangster boss interrupted the action and sent Sammy into a tailspin, I watched and marveled as the big lug figured out what to do next.
As the story progressed, I began asking, “What would Sammy do?”
Wait! Sammy was not supposed to be the main character of Dead Wrong.
The story was about Lynnette. I should have been asking, “What would Lynnette do?”
I finally came to my senses. I had fallen in love with the antagonist. It was time to break it off before I ended up with a manuscript worthy only of cross-cut shredding.
I wanted to let Sammy down easy, but with a temper like his, I had to be careful. I tiptoed around and hinted a little, then finally cut the ties. It was as hard on me as it was on him.
I’m well into a new manuscript now, and so far I’ve managed to control myself and my characters a little better. I hope this means less revising when the first draft is finished. I’d hate to go through another breakup like the one with Sammy. I still miss him. I miss him a lot.
Patricia Stoltey is the author of two amateur sleuth mysteries from Five Star/Cengage, The Prairie Grass Murders and The Desert Hedge Murders, now available as ebooks. Dead Wrong (www.amazon.com/Dead-Wrong-Patricia-Stoltey/dp/1432829866/) was released by Five Star Nov. 19, 2014.
To learn more about Patricia and her novels, visit her website (http://patriciastoltey.com) and blog (http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com/). She can also be found on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/patricia.stoltey), Twitter (https://twitter.com/PStoltey), Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/115494264819086899639/posts), and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1105939.Patricia_Stoltey).