Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gone, but definitely not forgotten.

by Clare O'Donohue


Have you ever killed off a character you loved?

Yes, and the odd part is, I didn't start loving him until after he was dead.

In the first book of my Kate Conway series, MISSING PERSONS, there is a death very early on - Kate's estranged, philandering, underachieving husband, Frank.

Good riddance, right? Kate would be suspected of having some hand in it, plot complications would ensue, and it would be all tied together with a fun subplot about Frank's mistress wanting to be friends. Lovely.

Except, here's the thing. As I wrote about Kate, not quite a widow, not quite an ex-wife, Frank changed. Kate was dealing with the realities of his death - from planning his funeral to giving family heirlooms back to his parents. She was angry, she was hurt, she was sad, she had regrets.... and somewhere underneath it all, she still loved him.

I found that as I wrote, a more nuanced Frank emerged. A man of passion, with amazing talent, great dreams - and, okay, zero follow-through. Like all relationships, theirs became complicated, with blame on both sides, and good memories that somehow, nearly, made up for the bad. Frank become someone I wanted to protect and, at times, punch in the stomach.

But I couldn't. Frank was dead. He is dead. And even though I've never met him - I killed him off the page - I sometimes, honestly, feel sad about that.

8 comments:

Meredith Cole said...

Great post, Clare! I had the same experience with a character I killed off! Once I got to know her through the eyes of her friends who mourned her passing, I started to have regrets...

Gerrie Ferris Finger said...

I killed off a character in a recent book. One that I was particularly fond of, but his continued existence would have caused him grief.

Lori Rader-Day said...

Good thing you did, though, or there'd be no Kate books. And I'm a fan of Kate books.

Alan Orloff said...

Isn't that why the "long lost identical twin brother" was invented?

Clare O'Donohue said...

Ah Alan... the long lost twin brother. I'll get working on that! And yes, Meredith and Gerrie, you do have those pangs of "Wouldn't it be fun to have him around" but as you say Lori, then there wouldn't be a Kate!

Robin Spano said...

Awesome post. Makes me want to read the book!

Catriona McPherson said...

This would be a brilliant wind-up conversation for a first date - how much closer one can be to a guy once he's dead. Do most men's loos have windows that open? Great post.

Clare O'Donohue said...

Thanks Robin! Let's hope lots of people feel that way!!

And Catriona, you ask the question and then you pick up a steak knife and hold it in an odd way. And laugh. Questions like that should always be accompanied by a strange, knowing little laugh.