I went through some boxes of old paper this weekend. Not only am I doing my annual search for tax paperwork, receipts and such, I'm also sorting and shredding things that have outlasted their usefulness. For some reason I cannot bring myself to shred a sketch an ex-boyfriend made of a thermostat for a car that went to the wrecker twenty years ago. It makes me smile every time I look at it.
Among other such memories I found notebooks, binders and sheafs of paper with several story ideas, outlines and even scenes. Some are good, some not so much. But they all had one thing in common. The hero's name was Alex. He's been dark, fair;lean, stocky;tall, average;a firefighter, medieval knight, and electician(not sure what the last one was about).
In his current incarnation as an extreme sports athlete, he's been around for twelve years. I knew where we were going together and how we were getting there but could never find a strong enough companion for that journey. So I sent him to Tibet while I gave his original storyline to his sister(that was Kate's Idea and it took me six months to accept it).
I wrote several other books in the meantime. Now that I had Alex's identity solidly implanted in my subconscious those heroes were able to form with different names and their own solid identities. Alex wandered through Indonesia and Australia with brief jaunts home to see if I was ready for him. When I started his sister's story in earnest, he went to South America. Who knew he would connect to Belize so thoroughly? Certainly not I.
The character has been rolling around in my head in one form or another for fifteen years and I'm still learning about him. Some of it is fascinating stuff. Some of the little details don't amount to much until you put them all together. He's so much tougher,versatile and resilient than I ever could have imagined. And funny. His sense of humour is a little bent.
He's larger-than-life, contained to a larger-than-life home at the head of a powerful natural wonder. He's sparring with a demon(also Kate's Idea that took some time to accept)for his soul. Yet he's as trapped as anyone has ever been, even if the cage is immense.
He had an epiphany yesterday. While I knew the first part of the book involved unAlex-like behaviour I didn't realize how it was possible for him to change so drastically. I thought it was the demon's fault. Alex says otherwise.
After all these years, I'm still enjoying the revelations. Perhaps that's why I'm not working too hard to finish the book. It will be hard to let him go.
Fortunately, other heroes await. There's that old ghost story whose memory was triggered by Gerard Butler. That's on an old floppy disk, as well as in a binder. But you know I remember more of that story and that hero every day.
Meanwhile Bracken grows.