Monday, March 26, 2007

Ask the Authors: Monday

Welcome back to "Ask the Authors" week. We have several unrelated questions for this week and will use one each day. If you have a question you'd like to see answered, send it to .

Which character in all of your books do you feel grew the most in the novel? Would you please briefly describe the process?

In A Sweetness to the Soul I had a character named Eleanor. She was mute and initially just served as a conduit for something to happen to the main character. But I spent way too much time describing her and keeping her in the action, deciding I'd later have to go back and cut much of it because I didn't want a reader to expect to see her again, and they would with all my time with her. Then well toward the end of the book I needed someone to appear as part of this gift that my protagonist and his wife gave to a family. I didn't even need to name the family, just have them receive it. But low and behold, Eleanor showed up! She was the perfect recipient of the gift, and I didn't have to cut her earlier appearances. It was a gift to me. -- Jane Kirkpatrick

Jamie McKie in my Lowlands of Scotland series matured the most through the trilogy. He began as a selfish, greedy young man, incapable of genuine love or sacrifice. Over two years' time (and 1,536 pages!) he slowly grew into a husband and father who put the needs of others before his own and honored God above all else. Even when Jamie became a prince of a man, a few flaws were still apparent. Perfection makes for a boring (and unrealistic) hero. --Liz Curtis Higgs

Jeb Nubey, The Millwood Hollow Series. Book One, Jeb uses the church to hide from the law posing as a minister. Three displaced children have latched onto him and they, posing as his children, add not only to his believability as a widowed minister, but they add tension and levity, but also serve as change agents in him. Jeb as poser is selfish and desperate. But forced to not only learn how to read but to read scriptural text and apply it, he is a vulnerable candidate for a softening to spiritual growth. But to have only used the Bible as a change agent would have been contrived. So Jeb is also challenged by the generosity of the parishioners and the humility of a love interest. His attachment to the people creates a longing in him to belong to them. And of course he can’t belong if his devious secret is out. Tension, fear of being discovered, a love interest, scriptural application, and a fatherly attachment to the children all work to make a new man of him, even if faced with imprisonment. --Patty Hickman

Probably Natalie Camfield in After the Rains. The book begins with her being a rebellious high school senior, and ends with her living in Colombia, South America working with her physician father as a missionary. Her growth takes place in a span of years when most people mature greatly, so I just wrote the progression many Christians make from self-centered teen to compassionate young adult. Naturally, like most people, her growth took place as a result of the trials she endured—some self-inflicted, some life’s inevitable tragedies. -–Deborah Raney

I did a series character named Kit Shannon. She's a young woman who
comes to Los Angeles to practice law in 1903. Women were just getting
into law, and having a woman do trials was unheard of. She had to face
all sorts of prejudice, of course, but also the crazy world of Los
Angeles in those days, when a mix of wild west, urban progress and
wide open spirituality was in play. I developed the character with my
co-writer Tracie Peterson in the first three books, called The Shannon
, and then on my own in the last three, The Trials of Kit Shannon.
She grows in her faith and her skill over the course of time, finds,
loses and recovers love, and mixes with the likes of Teddy Roosevelt,
William Randolph Hearst, John Barrymore, Jack London and Harry
Houdini. I was gratified to receive letters and e-mails from young
Christian women who've been inspired by Kit. I love the character so
much I gave her a cameo in Glimpses of Paradise. Who knows? Maybe
she'll be back, circa 1930. By then, she's become a legend. -- James
Scott Bell

We had a character in our Healing Touch series by the name of Mitchell Caine, who started out as a bad boy doctor, proud of his accomplishments and antagonistic toward all patients and other doctors. In the end, he was brought to his knees, nearly caused the death of a colleague, and had to come to terms not only with his own drug dependency, but also with his daughter's drug addiction.--Hannah Alexander

This is a difficult question. In my women's fiction, my protagonists have to make some major adjustments (i.e. emotional growth) before we reach the end of the book. But if I had to pick just one, I would go back to Claire in The Forgiving Hour. She was so embittered by the affair of her husband and the divorce and financial hardship that followed. More than a decade later, she still wouldn't let her son talk about his dad around her. Then the "other woman" enters her life again, and Claire is forced to come to a place of forgiveness, not only for her sake but for the sake of her son and the other woman. -- Robin Lee Hatcher


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