Good day, my bookish peeps. Authors are highly creative as well as inventive in crafting their works of fiction. They have to not only create characters, come up with the plot, and provide a suitable setting, but then keep track of everything as they write. Some authors will keep detailed notes and/or outlines to keep everything straight. But then they have to not only keep everything straight as they write (or edit) but keep the characters suitably realistic and believable. Please help me welcome, Sharon Michalove, author of Dead in the Alley. Ms. Michalove will be sharing her thoughts on “using what you love” in crafting fictional characters. Thank you, Ms. Michalove, for joining us today, the blog is now all yours.
Using What You Love to Make Your Characters Come Alive
by Sharon Michalove
Every book brings new experiences and deepens my knowledge. I love crafting twisty, tension-filled plots. Creating journeys to places my readers may know, or may want to know. And exploring the mysteries of love. Every book has a couple who learns to build a lasting relationship.
When I start a writing project, the characters come first. Once I know about them, I know where they live, what they like, what they fear, and who they love, and the deep wounds in their background. In the case of Dead in the Alley, I knew early on that the book would be a mystery, but once I had the characters in place, they told me their parts—hero, heroine, victim, suspects, family, sidekicks. That leads me to the setting, motives, and the murderer.
Take the Bishop sisters. Bay Bishop is the female protagonist in Dead in the Alley. She is a chef, one of the many careers I considered when being a high-school history teacher didn’t work out. I talked to a local chef who ran a cooking school about the possibilities He was willing to take me on for professional training and warned me about the early rising and long hours. Those didn’t phase me. Picking up seventy-pound stock pots was another story, so I changed direction.
Bay’s older sister, Laurel, is a college professor. I had many years of experience in academic settings to work with in creating her. She may get a book of her own one of these days.
Livvy, the younger sister, was a little trickier. She is a fashion designer and I had to do research on where she would have gone to school, what hurdles she would face, and what her studio was like. I also have some ideas for her.
Their brother, Toby, is a bookstore owner. That was easier for me. Even though I’ve never owned or worked in a bookstore, I know small business owners and as a former librarian, I have a lot of experience with the book business.
My hero and the love interest, Greg Musgrove, took me back to my love for bike racing. I have followed the major races since a research trip to Paris in the summer of 2000 introduced me to the joys of watching and learning about the Tour de France. A few years later, I was able to see the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia because we were staying close enough to Verona to go there for the day.
Standing in the rain for hours in a huge crowd is an unforgettable experience, especially as taller fans with big umbrellas start crowding you out. as they push toward the front By the time the sun came out and the final time trial competitors came through, I couldn’t see a thing. Fortunately, a very tall friend held up my camera and took pictures at the finish line. The feel of being in the crowd was amazing, but now I’d rather watch it on TV.
As a former bike racer and now a drugs officer in this small Michigan town, I was able to tie together why he retired from racing, how his experience made him decide that drug enforcement was the right path, and how he pursued his dream to open a high-end bike shop with a former teammate. As a former cyclist, I’ve hung around bike shops for years and I tried to create the shop I’d love to spend time in.
Should you always write what you know? Not necessarily. I knew very little about the setting, northern Michigan. Research can take you a long way. But being able to write about things you are passionate about is a gift. Writing relatable characters who delight in things I love, gives me the chance to share them with my readers. ♦
Dead in the Alley
by Sharon Michalove
July 18 – August 12, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
When Bay Bishop’s husband was murdered in the alley behind their northern Michigan restaurant, she thought she’d lost the love of her life.
Now she’s a suspect.
And her high-school boyfriend, who left her broken-hearted years ago, is one of the detectives on the case.
Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: Indie Published
Publication Date: August 10, 2022
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781736918753 (paperback)
ASIN: B09P8QWC31 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | BookDepository.com | Goodreads
Sharon Michalove grew up in suburban Chicago. She received four degrees from the University of Illinois because she didn’t have the gumption to go anywhere else, and spent most of her career at the university, eventually earning a Ph.D., working in departmental administration, publishing, and libraries. Her specialties are 15th-16th century European history, polar exploration, and food history. She may be one of the few people in America to never live outside her home state.
In graduate school, she met and married the love of her life. They shared a love of music, theater, travel, and cats. He died in 2013.
Sharon also loves hockey, reading, cooking, writing, and various less elevated activities like eating cookies and sampling gins and single malts. After spending most of her life in a medium-sized university town she moved back to Chicago in 2017 so she could go to more Blackhawks games and spend quality time at Eataly. In 2021 she accomplished a lifetime goal by publishing her first novel. Unfortunately, her other lifetime goal, to be English, is likely to remain unfulfilled.
Catch Up With Sharon Michalove:
BookBub – @sdmichalove
Instagram – @sdmichaloveauthor
Twitter – @sdmichalove
Facebook – @sharonmichalove
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Sharon Michalove. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.