About the Books
The novels I write are the novels and stories I most like to read. My book ideas always start with a character I can’t stop thinking about. Wondering about. That character may not have been in the forefront of my thoughts for months, maybe even years. Especially if I’m working on another project. But it’s the ones that never go away, the characters that keep coming back. Like creatures behind the walls, their stories continue scratching in the night, demanding to break through until their persistence and their noise can no longer be overlooked.
In my latest novel, THE BOOKKEEPER, Grace Cathcart Crowley is exactly that compelling character who refused to be ignored. She’d been in my thoughts for decades. And when I finally allowed her all the way in and began to write I thought I knew everything about her. But I didn’t. Not really. Which is the mystery and thrill of writing. As well as reading. Because it’s in the story that a character is truly revealed. The story is the vehicle, a kind of literary psychoanalysis, if you will. Why, I wondered, has this austere, intelligent woman devoted her adult life not only to her job, but to a boss who demeans and takes advantage of her. And so, a life unfolds. Grace’s tale begins at her desk, on a cold Friday night after everyone in the Mill has gone home and she feels safe enough to continue the benevolent thievery she’s carried on for years. Embezzlement, of course, but to Grace’s way of thinking – not really.
My first novel, VANISHED, began the same way – with a most unlikely character, illiterate Aubrey Wallace, unloved all his life. Though he lived on the fringe of my consciousness, I’d known him forever. I’d seen him everywhere, scrabbling unnoticed through the days. I’d seen him on road crews, at flea markets. I’d be sitting in a restaurant and as the kitchen door swung open, there he’d be again, scraping food off diners’ plates. I knew he was decent and kind and that someday when there was no other choice, when he was most urgently needed he would be heroic.
When readers tell me they’ve felt the joy and disappointment of my characters I know I’ve told their stories well. I write about the people we all know and the people we all are. Desperate, loving, hungry for connection, amusing, insulting, annoying, insecure, bold, brave, timid, vengeful, foolish, fearful, funny, dangerous, profane, endearing, selfish, giving and when pushed to the brink, sometimes even heroic.