Here I am, on a cruise ship sailing across the Atlantic without a bit of land anywhere in sight. That pretty much describes exactly where I was when I started to plot THE DEVIL SHE KNOWS – adrift without anywhere to place my hero.
Usually we think of a hero – or heroine – as being firmly planted in a single place. Where would Arthur be without Camelot? D’Arcy must have his Pemberly in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, right? How could Harry Dresden live anywhere but Chicago in Jim Butcher’s THE DRESDEN FILES? I, for one, refuse to imagine Sookie Stackhouse living anywhere but Louisiana.
Now put yourself in my shoes. I knew THE DEVIL SHE KNOWS was going to be about Gareth Lowell. After all, he told me at the end of THE IRISH DEVIL that I had to write a book about him. I just nodded and said, yeah, right, mister, you’re maybe eighteen years old, you’ve got some growing up to do before you’ve got enough angst to be interesting…
Boy, was I wrong!
Gareth reminded me he was still waiting during three more books. He only kept his mouth shut during KISSES LIKE A DEVIL because that one takes place after he’s married. (And I had no idea how he and Portia had pulled it off. Very frustrating.)
So there I was, completely determined to finally write Gareth’s story – but I had absolutely, positively no idea of where his home was. None. Not a clue in the world.
Okay, I did know he came from Kentucky but how much did that mean in the wild, wild West? Men crossed the Mississippi, never to see their birthplace again, all the time. And this fellow sure did have a passion for traveling.
THE IRISH DEVIL finds him in 1871 Arizona.
1872 catches him in Omaha during the spring for THE RIVER DEVIL, Colorado for the summer in THE NORTHERN DEVIL. Whenever I thought about the state of transportation back then, my admiration for his ability to get around grew and grew.
But why on earth is he so determined not to stay in one place? Why is he avoiding Kentucky? Where would he be happy to make a home?
I pondered long and hard.
Perhaps Gareth is like Aragorn, fighting battles to make other men safe while enduring the pain of a deathless, unfulfilled love? Aragorn travels widely as a Ranger and knows the hobbits’ Shire, the Riders’ Rohan, and the elves’ Lórien.
The climactic battle should take place somewhere wonderful and memorable. Well, maybe I don’t have a glamorous Minas Tirith up my sleeve but perhaps exotic Constantinople might work. After all, two continents come together there, Alexander’s heirs fought over it, the Roman emperors built fortifications which stands to this day, Vikings guarded the Byzantine emperors, and Ottomans created some of the most exquisite food – and bloodthirsty treachery! – amid its twisting streets.
To finish THE DEVIL SHE KNOWS, all I needed was a place for Gareth to call home. Perhaps golden Santa Barbara
And, of course, figure out what the heck problems lie inside Gareth’s heart which keep him from falling in love with Portia!
So tell me, do you like heroes who identify strongly with a single place? Or do you prefer one who travels from town to town?
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