I don’t know if it is the same for other writers, but when I complete a novel, the characters seem to linger on in my mind and their story continues. Sometimes I write down what happens to them, but usually it is just a mental thing and its only in my imagination that their lives continue. I don’t mean they live independently from my creativity, I mean I continue to work on their story – I don’t think they really exist!!
Why do I do it if the story has finished and is maybe even published? I’m not sure, except that sometimes, as I’ve mentioned before, situations arise with these characters which can be transferred to another story… the situations, not the characters. So for example, in Flipside, which I am working on now to publish next month, there is a violent and terrifying ordeal for the characters right at the end. The story is complete but I imagined what might happen to them next, because of course a dreadful, life-threatening experience would have terrible consequences even if everyone survived… This led me to thinking of a situation which started before the beginning of a book and which the characters had to deal with during the course of the story… this led to The Stalking Of Rosa Czekov. None of the characters in Flipside or Rosa are remotely alike in any way, and nor is the setting; Flipside is set in the real town of Oldham, Lancashire, Rosa in my imaginary town of Easthope on an imaginary coastline.
I published Night Vision earlier this year and as usual the characters are still playing out their lives in my imagination. I won’t give anything away for those of you who haven’t read it, but the story involves the relationship of Beulah and Neil Cameron who move away from Manchester to save their marriage which is threatened by Neil’s irrational and unfounded jealousy of Beulah’s friend Rafi. At the end of the novel, after the discovery of a skeleton (a real one) murder, suspicion and a scene reminiscent of King Lear on the moors above Easthope, there is a definite resolution, and other family relationships have been resolved too.
However… jealousy is a powerful emotion and I think it must effect the person who is jealous, as well as the person who is suspected of something. With this story, perhaps more than others, maybe because Beulah and Neil and their family and friends are entering middle age, I wanted for my own satisfaction to know how the story played out. The story in the novel, and in my head is about love… and in my head I couldn’t resolve the various conundrums I had set myself… until suddenly, on Sunday, in a blinding flash I saw a solution. I know the end of the next bit, where the characters difficulties and dilemmas resolve themselves and there is a happy life through middle age, into old age solution for them! Phew!… Now how can I use this plot…? Hmmm… I think I have another idea!