#throwbackthursday – How I refused to give up on Charlotte Dodd

It’s Throwback Thursday!!

The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd released January 2016; the prequel, The Missing Files of Charlotte Dodd came out last November.

Like the pretty new covers? Thanks Sue Traynor!

 

 

 

 

 

And now it’s time for the sequel – The Best Worst First Date Ever!

Pre-sale begins tomorrow!! Until then, here’s a guest post from back in 2016, from my blog tour for The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd!

How I refused to give up on the character of Charlotte Dodd.

One of the spots on my blog tour with CLP Blog Tours was Connect with Click Lit Club. Here’s the guest post featured on the site.

I really think I’d like to be a superhero.

holly kerr1Or maybe a secret agent. Nothing too dangerous of course. I am a forty-something mother and I like to think my kids still need me around! But have you ever wondered … wanted … fantasized a bit about having a little more excitement in your life? A little danger? Have you thought about what it would be like to jump out of a plane onto the roof of a building, sneak in, have to fight your way through the bad guys with such awesome moves that you manage this with your hair still in place and not a bruise on your body to rescue your man or someone equally deserving?

I have to admit, I have had such daydreams.

The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd

Original cover

And that’s why I wrote The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd.

I’m not a violent person in any means. I’m an average, baseball mom of three. I’m an author. And one of the more enjoyable aspects of being a writer is that you get to imagine your characters (yourself!) in all sorts of situations.

Creating Charlotte Dodd

I first came up with the idea for The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd years ago. I had finished writing my first novel (then titled Baby! Baby? Baby?!, now Unexpecting), a chick lit novel about a woman who wants to have a baby, and was debating what my next book would be. At this time, I had been quite taken with the Jennifer Garner show Alias. Watching the show – along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, another of my favourites – really strengthened my little secret agent/super hero fantasy. I loved the idea of a strong, confident, independent woman being able to take control of any situation.

There were a few moments in those two television shows that inspired The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd. Sydney Bristow sucking the air from a submerged car tire keep from drowning. A car doing a 360 turn during a car chase. And Buffy’s signature fight move – rolling back onto the shoulders and flipping to her feet. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to do things like that?

And that’s when I came up with the character of Charlotte Dodd. She was part Sydney Bristow, part Buffy with a little Jason Bourne thrown in.

She would be an agent with a super-secret government organization. She was recruited at a very young age and from a family of spies. Her grandfather was the co-creator of the National Intelligence and Information Agency, a super secret government organization that catapulted Canada to the forefront of worldwide espionage. (I know, I know – Canada? Fiction, remember?!)

I came up with other characters – Charlotte’s brothers and their roles in the NIIA, fellow agents Benjy and Payton. I came up with a bit of a love triangle with Ham and Luke. I devised the fight scene where she first meets Benjy, who reminded Charlotte of Neil Patrick Harris. You can tell how long ago I first came up with the story because the early reversions mention Neil Patrick Harris’ childhood character, Doogie Howser!
And that’s where the story stalled. But never forgotten, never far from my thoughts. I had all these characters – I had Charlotte – and they needed something to do.

Charlotte Dodd – Vampire Hunter?

Over the years, Charlotte has stayed with me but the story has gone through a lot of changes. I wrote at least five versions of Charlotte, trunking each one. Charlotte lost her memory, got it back. One memorable version had Charlotte as part vampire, which made her an excellent vampire hunter!

And then last year, after my third book was published – Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder – I pulled Charlotte out again. I had found critique partners and I needed to give them something to critique! This time, Charlotte was still a spy but had no memory of her time as a secret agent. I took few parts of my original story and started again.

I think this is the best revision of Charlotte I could have come up with. She’s a character that I fell in love with, one who wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s been over ten years since I first came up with the idea of Charlotte and so finally publishing the story was a very happy moment. It was great to finally finish what I started so long ago, and let my daydreams of the life of a secret agent run wild!

But Charlotte wasn’t enough for me. I’m ready for my next mission. I’m working on a sequel!

For the full post, check out Connect with Chick Lit Club

 

Blog Tour Guest Post – Turning Friends into Characters

Latest stop on my blog tour was My Life.  One Story at a Time where I talk about turning friends into characters for your book!

Turning Friends into Characters

I recently read a quote by J.K. Rowling that said there was a part of her in the characters of Harry, Hermione and Ron.

That makes sense.

I constantly use my own idiosyncrasies and habits in creating  my protagonists, antagonists, secondary characters…the write-what-you-know rule has always been drummed in me and who do you know better than yourself?

Writers observe; they take in as much as they can – sight, sounds, smells, etc – and use those observations to create.  The homeless man on the corner can spark something, as can the way your mother used to yell at you to pick up your dirty clothes.

What about using friends as the basis of your characters though?

Imagine your best friend wrote a book and your heart is bursting with pride.  As you’re racing through the pages, trying to finish as quickly as you can to be able to write a glowing review for her, you come across a character…that sounds a lot like you.

She never mentioned you were in her book.

Not everyone would want themselves portrayed in print.  Sure if, it’s a glowingly positive image of you, you might be flattered.  But what if it’s not?

Hopefully, if she’s that good of a friend, she won’t mention to all about how you once got so sick from tequila that you threw up and then spent long minutes investigating the inner workings of the toilet? Or about how you got a speeding ticket and embarrassed yourself trying to get out it.  Or about how you accidently let a fart escape as you laughed during a presentation.  What if you were reading along and found your worst memory embedded in the pages of her book?

Advice for the author:  Don’t make it obvious that you’re using a friend as the basis of a character.  Be subtle; don’t take everything about them!  And if you do make it obvious, tell your friend.  For my new book, I came right out and told the boys from the store they were going in as characters and they loved the idea.  Some people will love the thought of being in a book.  Some people won’t.  Always be respectful.

For me, it’s more fun to use friends as characters when it’s not obvious.  When the friend doesn’t even know you’re borrowing quirks and traits.  I have a character in my first book, Baby! Baby? Baby?!  that is based on a friend of mine, and she’s never once realized this!  It’s my little secret.

For the reader: be flattered if you’re included in a book.  Realize that you made enough of an impact in someone’s life for them to immortalize you.  They have observed something about you – hopefully not too embarrassing – that has helped them create.  You are an inspiration. You are a muse.  You are important to them.

Plus, sometimes situations or eccentricities are too memorable NOT to be used. My friend who counted all the holes in the toilet after she threw up?  That scene is so going in my next book!  Sorry, Cheryl!

Purchase COMING HOME on Amazon in these formats:

Kindle

 Coming Home

Loving your sisters is easy.  Liking them is the hard part.

Loving your sisters is easy. Liking them is the hard part.

Brenna Ebans always wanted more than what Hill n’Valley could give her, so it seemed a simple decision to follow her black-sheep sister Dory’s footsteps and leave Hill n’Valley in her rearview, hoping to locate their missing father. Leaving her sisters and her first love Seamus was harder than she thought, she’s made a life for herself in Vancouver, started her career at a prestigious law firm, and has found the man of her dreams. But when she finds her husband Toby in a compromising position at work, she loses both her love and her job, and has nowhere to go but home.

Youngest sister Cat has remained in Hill n’Valley, leaving a string of broken hearts—and ex-husbands—in her wake. She’s happy living in the family home, with the ghost of their dead mother to keep her company during the day, and her latest conquest—Brenna’s old boyfriend, Seamus—to keep her warm at night. And she’s less than thrilled to hear about Brenna’s return.

But when tragedy strikes, it brings their father back to Hill n’Valley, and the three sisters will have a lot of issues to resolve…

Holly KerrHolly Kerr:  Ask any writer and they’ll tell you they have always wrote and Holly Kerr is no exception. She’s written stories about bunnies dodging cars and sisters dying, distracting the cute boy in class and dark plots to kill your best friend’s husband.  Coming Home is her latest novel, a story about sisters who can’t get along and living in a small town, two things she knows more than a little about!  A self-professed geek, she loves anything to do with Star Wars, super heroes, Joss Whedon and Harry Potter. She also enjoys running, playing in the dirt and sharing a glass of wine with friends.

Her latest book is the women’s fiction, Coming Home.

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