By the time I decided to create what would become the Fire Angel Universe I had already written a few short stories containing a number of characters that I knew I could integrate into my new superhero stories. I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs how I did this with some of the characters, such as Kit Palmer becoming Kat Palmer of Project: Guardian while keeping her original backstory.
When I create a character, one of the first things I like to do after coming up with their basic outline, is to create a family tree. Sometimes there are happy accidents when the new character I’ve created shares the same surname with a character from one of my short stories. This allows me to bring them into the story and give them a new lease of life, when previously I had no plans for them. This also creates new story opportunities.
A few years ago, while writing my second novel Fire Angel: Turning Point, I referenced a particular off-page character who was supposed to be a one-time mention. But then, not only did I realize the surname I’d used was one I’d used in a previous short story, but also another character from my first attempt at a novel shared the same name too. This was an opportunity too good to waste so I decided they should be siblings. Furthermore, I realized that the character from the short story had at one time dated a character who I’d already planned to bring into the Fire Angel Universe, leading to even more future story potential!
It’s not only relatives of characters that turn up in the Fire Angel Universe. Sometimes a new scene calls for a new character to unexpectedly show up. While writing Fire Angel: Igniting the spark I was brainstorming where to go with a particular character who I’d brought in from a short story. When I decided on a dinner scene, I realized that it’d make sense if I introduced another character from that same short story, which enabled me to move the scene forward.
Finally, there are the characters who just decide to show up when they’re not supposed to. For example, while I’ve been writing the second book of the Scorched Earth trilogy, a character who’d had a cameo appearance in the first book, and who wasn’t supposed to be seen again until a few books down the line, has now become a huge part of the story.
So, in the end, I guess it’s the characters who decide when they show up not the author!
If you’re a writer does this ever happen to you?