More character development

I wrote some time ago about how my character Thomas Radwinter changed and developed over the books I have written about him. I wrote the first one as a stand-alone, but then the story seemed to require a sequel… then a further book needed to complete some story lines, and then another which should have been the last… However, there are now six Radwinter books and I have plans for a seventh!

This is something I wrote about how Thomas’s character has changed:

Character development

When I first began to write my novel ‘Radwinter’, and even when I finished and published it, I had no thoughts of a sequel, and definitely no thoughts that it might become a series. It’s something I never anticipated or contemplated – in fact when people had asked me about my other books, ‘what happened next‘, even though I knew in my head where my stories went, I was resolute that no, I was not going to write more about those characters.

All changed with Radwinter, and now I’m working on the final edits of book 6! In some series, the characters remain essentially the same, in some they don’t even age; however because Radwinter included a very strong story-line about Thomas, the narrator and part of the narrative was how he changed, it was inevitable that he would continue to change in the subsequent stories. His world changes completely – at the beginning of the first book he is in a ten-year old marriage, in a job which he endures rather than enjoys, and feels a baby compared to his brothers, even though he’s a thirty-three year old man. Now, without giving too much away, he is married to someone else, has a family and is very close to his older brothers; he also is in a completely different work situation – which allows, from a plot point of view, complete freedom to investigate the various mysteries he is commissioned to solve!

I’ve taken great care to try and make the changes in his character slow, and realistic – he’s not a butterfly suddenly emerging from a cocoon! In the first novel, he was shy, nervous, insecure, in a constant state of embarrassment over everything about himself, and with an extremely low feeling of self-worth – in fact he didn’t feel he was worthy of anything. He had been bullied as a child, and in fact in this first novel, at the beginning he is still bullied.

In my latest novel he comments:

Fergus had been very quiet when I spoke to him,  distracted, moody, but sometimes it’s quiet people who explode… take me, case in point… I wouldn’t say I’m quiet in terms of personality, I seem to have had a bit of a make-over on that front, and from being a timid mouse I’m a bumptious so-and-so – apparently! I appear placid and calm, but when I lose it, boy do I lose it! It’s only happened a couple of times… and it wasn’t pleasant…

This change has taken place slowly, so in book 2, Magick,  he still suffers from anxiety attacks, he has bad dreams and cries in his sleep, and finds it difficult to trust and believe people who love him. This begins to change during the novel, especially as he finds out more about his family history and what caused the family to end up in such dire straits. In the third novel, Raddy and Syl he begins to unpick the background of the people who brought him up, and instead of condemning them and blaming them he finds he’s able to face his own demons.

These three books sound gloomy, traumatic and sad the way I have described this aspect – in fact, Thomas discovers that he is very funny, people like him, respect him, and they turn to him for help. He begins to be able to stand up for himself, in every sense, so when he is confronted by dangerous people he is able to defend himself and others and keep people safe.

In the fourth book, Beyond Hope, Thomas  is really feeling very strong and sure of himself, until various crises undermine his confidence; he now has a family and is married to someone who has loved him since the first time they met, but relations with his brothers are suddenly under strain as he discovers a dreadful truth about their parent. By the end of the novel, once again Thomas’s relationship with those nearest to him has matured and changed and he feels strong and, as he describes it, ‘grown up’!

Now in the sixth novel, bumptious Thomas still conceals the inner frightened child, but he is able to cope with that and fight back to being his adult self:

“Yes, Terri-Ann…”
“Am I going back to Tobago?”
Well, that was an absolute bolt from the blue! I was literally speechless – a million answers and thoughts rushing into my head.
Did she mean she wanted to go back? Did she mean she thought we might send her back? What… what did she mean? My second reaction was a heart clenching fear that my girl wanted to leave us, that she wanted to leave the pale skies and feeble sun and dull colours and go back to brilliant skies and glorious sun and vivid vibrant colours…
Before I could say anything, a damned cyclist raced towards us, on the pavement, yes, on the pavement and I dragged the children to one side, shouting angry words after the aggressive, selfish moron!
“Sorry, darling, what did you say?”
Before Terri-Ann could reply Kenneil burst out that he’d like to go to Tobago to see his other Dad who lived far far away…
My world seemed to be on the verge of imploding, brave confident Thomas being thrust aside by weak frightened abandoned Thomas.
“We could all go for a holiday, couldn’t we!” Kenneil said excitedly.
“I can show you where I lived with my Mamma when I was a little girl,” Terri replied and without me saying anything they began to plan when they’d go – in the holidays so they didn’t miss school – and my heart began to return to its normal rate.

Thomas has grown and changed, but ‘weak frightened abandoned Thomas’ is still there. Now, however, brave confident Thomas is always there to protect him!

If you are interested in my previous thoughts on Thomas’s character, here is a link to what I wrote three years ago:

If you haven’t yet met Thomas and read about his adventures, here is a link to my Radwinter books:

I’m using the same featured image as on my previous post about characters, as i said at the time: “I chose my featured image because somehow the Radwinter stories are like water flowing, I filled up a bucket called Radwinter, but it began to oveflow and it went into another bucket called Magick… then Raddy and Syl… now who knows… Maybe ‘The Last House’?!” – in fact the next one was ‘Beyond Hope’, then ‘Earthquake’, then ‘Saltpans’, so now I have a spare title, ‘The Last House’ – maybe Radwinter VII?!

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