Stand back, this might be nothing more than therapy for me.
So, I write a female FBI agent in the first book. I proceed to change her name three times, before finally settling on Brooke. She goes from blonde to redhead to brunette, before finally going back to blonde again. She goes from tall to short to average height. She goes from a looker to a nice, pleasant girl-next-door, to a stunning Miss America in waiting. She goes from cocksure and confident to not being too sure of herself. And yet, she remains a compelling, intriguing, beguiling, bewitching temptress and an efficient government agent.
So, I say, “This ain’t so bad.” And I bring her back in book two. And in book two, she starts to develop an inner threat matrix. She goes from being external to being internal. After that, the rest of her motivations through book two are based on her internal fear and the process of overcoming that.
Oh, and I make her an object of desire to one of the male characters, and in doing so, I open up a whole new facet – what she has to deal with on a daily basis – that I didn’t delve into in the first book. I address the idea that some men can be downright piggish when presented with a beautiful woman, regardless of her accomplishments or rank. Such slobbering must surely be a bore to her, but also a manageable asset when the “Neanderthal” in front of her chooses to use her sexuality as the currency they are dealing in.
Finally, I’m staring at the blank page that will become the beginning of book three, and there’s a million ways I can go. And she comes back to me, and I realize…she IS book three. She’s book three because book three deals with not only her professional life, but her private life. So I tell my publisher, “Book three is more Brooke’s book than anyone else’s. It has more about her love life, her work life, her near loss of life, and finding a new life.”
And then, after I’ve given her this incredible life, this incredible level of complexity, this astounding insight into not only her soul and her heart, but the ability and the desire to reach across and find it in others… Just when it all starts to click, and it really feels great, she rears up and quits on me.
I’m in the middle of the book, and she quits her job. Her job, which, by the way, is the reason for the book.
And I am stunned. I am sitting at my laptop, stunned. Why does she do that? How can she do that? And more importantly – how can she do that to me? And I’m going through all sorts of angst. Did I do something wrong? Was it something I said? Why did she just quit?
Note to the reader: This schizophrenic dialogue you’re reading is exactly what happened. I had no idea, when I sat down to write that day, that she would quit — right in the middle of a year’s worth of work.
So. What to do? I can’t call her. I can’t send flowers. So, you know what? I trust. I trust that I made her pretty good, pretty smart, and the type of person that can take care of the fate of the free world. I should be able to trust her. So I decide to trust her.
And then….well, you’ll have to read it for yourself.
Editor’s Note: You’ll be able to read it for yourself in The God Particle, coming this fall, wherever any books are sold anymore – online.
Tom Avitabile is the author of two novels, including The Hammer of God, published by our sister company, Fiction Studio Books. You can find out more about it here.