Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Molly Best Tinsley and Karetta Hubbard - Satan's Chamber - Guest Post
About the Book
He was a crack CIA operative, who vanished from the streets of Khartoum, Sudan.
And he was her father.
She followed him into the Agency’s National Clandestine Service, and now despite her junior status, she gets the assignment she covets: Khartoum.
From the minute Victoria Pierce arrives in-country, nothing is what it seems.
The one-eyed Kendacke, descendant of the first female black pharaohs, is a fugitive in her own land. Bart Wilkins, the buff but bumbling supply officer at the Embassy, keeps turning up one step ahead. The super-rich Adam Marshall has information, but it comes with strings attached.
Whom can she trust as she begins to uncover the pieces of a horrific plan? Thus the mystery begins.
A good story is about people before it’s about anything else.
How do we bring to life on the page the multi-dimensional, colorful characters who star in riveting stories like Satan’s Chamber? The same way we connect with and support the real people we encounter in life: through empathy. We tap the imagination to put ourselves in the same boat as another and find out how it feels. There are a number of techniques that further that process.
Define and respect each character’s backstory. We write at least a page of biography about each important character, being as specific as possible about the forces that shaped his or her personality and motivations. We knew things about the childhoods of Victoria “Tory” Pierce or Adam Marshall that never showed up specifically in the narrative but still lent authority to their portraits. We pay particular attention to a character’s idiosyncrasies, flaws, weaknesses—these are the quirks that make things happen. These are the traits that will allow, no, force your character to change. And change is good. Meanwhile, perfection is usually predictable and generic, always static.
Find the part of yourself that resonates with each of your characters to keep them from becoming wooden pawns. The do-gooder who can’t say no, the party animal, the political activist, the neurotic agoraphobic, or someone quite despicable and villainous—we all have such mini-selves hiding within, which we can draw on to add depth and diversity to our fictional lineup. Molly was shocked to discover her inner thug through a choice she made on behalf of one of the bad guys in Satan’s Chamber: she didn’t think she had it in her, in fact, she wishes she didn’t. But it is important to remember that the good guys have faults, the bad guys have dreams, and both have motivations for their actions.
Seek out points of tension between characters and turn up the volume on them. In fact, narrative propulsion will come more easily if you conceive of your story in terms of a number characters in conflict, as opposed to an individual “main character.” Although Satan’s Chamber charts the transformational arc of one main character, Tory Pierce, she is continually bumping up against both helpers and enemies who embody different perspectives, value systems, and personalities. Of course, it is part of Tory’s learning curve to figure out exactly which of these supporting characters to believe and trust, which to avoid, and even take out. These conflicts and decisions keep the action moving and the sparks flying.
Finally, it’s important to trust your characters once you feel you know them well enough. Let them have something to say about the course of the action, rather than putting them lockstep through the paces of a preconceived plot. Most crucial: allow them to speak out and reveal themselves. Give them the room to grow beyond your control through scenes.
Satan's Chamber can be purchased at:
Price: $19.95 hardcover, $14.95 paperback, $5.99 ebook
Release: August 2009
About the Authors
Air Force brat Molly Best Tinsley taught on the civilian faculty at the United States Naval Academy for twenty years and is the institution’s first professor emerita. Author of My Life with Darwin (Houghton Mifflin) and Throwing Knives (Ohio State University Press), she also co-authored Satan’s Chamber (Fuze Publishing) and the textbook, The Creative Process (St. Martin’s). Her fiction has earned two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sandstone Prize, and the Oregon Book Award. Her plays have been read and produced nationwide. She lives in Oregon, where she divides her time between Ashland and Portland.
As a businesswoman and entrepreneur, Karetta Hubbard has more than twenty-five years of experience in consulting, strategic management, and organizational change for companies throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Japan. Having recently turned to literary endeavors, Ms. Hubbard credits her five grandchildren as her inspiration and encouragement to put pen to paper.
As an active member of the Washington, DC community, Ms. Hubbard has held appointments at the Small Business Advisory Council (SBA), the Tyson Business and Professional Women Foundation (BPW), and the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. Ms. Hubbard attended the University of Virginia and received her B.A. degree from George Mason University. She also attended Catholic University’s Graduate School in Social Work.
Connect with Molly and Karetta:
Satan's Chamber Web Site
Satan's Chamber Goodreads
Fuze Publishing Web Site
Fuze Publishing Blog
Fuze Publishing Facebook
Fuze Publishing Twitter