Behind the Scenes of a Character

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal 22 Comments

My Hidden Springs Mystery book giveaway here on One Writer’s Journal is ongoing as an early celebration of the coming release of Hidden Springs 3, Murder Is No Accident (coming in March). That’s why I decided to take you behind the scenes and let you get a glimpse of how I get to know my characters. My grandgirl here could have been a model for Maggie who is one of the viewpoint characters in my new mystery. She wasn’t, but she could have been. Right age. Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is still a major viewpoint character and Aunt Lindy has a few scenes too, but it was fun introducing a fresh character. But to do that I had to get to know Maggie.

So here’s a glimpse at some of my pre-writing, that writing that I do before I actually start writing a book.

Maggie Greene – 15

Maggie is a hard luck girl. Cute and smart and determined to make something of her life. Her parents are struggling to make ends meet and have some problems getting along. They’re working too many hours or the mother is because the father lost his job. The factory where he worked moved to Mexico or somewhere overseas. He’s a guy who identified with being able to make money and now he can’t find a job that pays anything. He can’t stand the thought of working as a dishwasher or busboy or janitor. He keeps looking back instead of forward. Back to when he was making a good wage. Now he has to wonder where it went. They have two other kids younger than Maggie. One son who’s 8 now had health problems when he was born. Had to have heart surgery and even though they had insurance, it didn’t cover everything and that’s where the money went. He also bought a nice truck before he lost his job and the payments on it are pulling them down. That plus health insurance. Mother makes money cleaning houses, but no benefits to that. Sometimes Maggie helps her, which is how she knows about Miss Fonda’s house. Maggie’s mother used to clean the house twice a month before Miss Fonda went to the nursing home.  

They live in a trailer – manufactured home her mother says – over in the trailer park with the other families who are in some of the same boats as Maggie and her family. Some much worse off. In spite of the arguments between her parents, they are still a family with a mother and father.

That’s just a little of my ideas very early on about Maggie. Things changed. She ended up with only one little brother, Jesse. She had more of a friendship with Miss Fonda, the old lady who owns the big old Victorian mansion that is the major setting for the murder mystery. In the story Maggie gets to have a little romance. But most of all, I hope readers will really like Maggie and be with her in every scene.

If you’d like to know more about Murder Is No Accident, check out its book page. The book is available for pre-order now at on-line sites. But first, if you haven’t read the first two Hidden Springs Mysteries, Murder at the Courthouse or Murder Comes by Mail, here’s your chance to win a copy. Even if you have read them, you surely know a friend who might like the story. All you have to do is leave a comment on one of my blog posts this week or next. Each comment on a new post gets you a new entry. You do have to be 18 to enter. One winner, Joan, has already been picked. She’s getting Murder at the Courthouse as soon as I get to the post office. I’ll draw a new winner on this Sunday, January 22, and next Sunday, January 29.

So, did you enjoy looking behind the scenes at how I got to know Maggie Greene? Do you think she’ll be a character you will enjoy getting to know in my new mystery?

As always, thanks for reading. I’m a day late with this post, but with the holiday Monday, I forgot it was Wednesday. That’s sad, isn’t it? 🙂

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Comments 22

  1. Karen Jones

    Getting off a day happens to the best of us. 😊 I must add those mysteries to my reading list. Thank you for continuing to remind me. Our secretary at church name is Fonda. That was the first time I had heard that name. How did you arrive at using it in your book?

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      Ann H Gabhart

      I don’t know, Karen, where I came up with that name. I do have a baby name book I’ve used for years so I might have come across it there. I wanted something that sounded a little different and old fashioned. Of course, I have heard the name LaFonda, but Miss Fonda didn’t have that La. LOL. My biggest problem with her name was while I was writing the book I kept hitting the “F” and then typing Fiona. I have a granddaughter with that name. Sometimes I didn’t even notice until I went back and was editing. So before I sent in the book to my publishers, I did one of those word searches to be sure I had called Miss Fonda the right name. So glad you got a day off and I do hope you’ll add some of my mysteries to your reading pile. Maybe you’ll win one. 🙂

  2. Barbara D Davis

    My two favorite books are Angel Sister and The Believer. I think I have all your books except for this new series.. I’ve been busy this past year working on research. But now I’m ready to get back to some fun reading and since I have a granddaughter that is 14…I’ll be picturing her as Maggie! Hope my name get’s picked for one of the books!

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Well, what fun for me to hear that you have all my books except these new mysteries, Barbara. So this contest is perfect for you. I’m getting ready to draw my second winner here in a few minutes. I’m so glad you enjoyed my stories in Angel Sister and The Believer. Good characters to write about in both those stories. I enjoyed Lorena in Angel Sister and Hannah in The Believer. I like writing about young characters, it seems.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      I don’t know if Maggie can compare to Jocie, but she does have a lot going on in this story. Jocie managed to keep her story going for three books. And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find out she’s still plotting up things with Wes against Zella. 🙂

  3. peggy clayton

    I just love the insight also your grandkids are just so cute and such a blessing that they live close to you. Thank you for sharing!

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      Ann H Gabhart

      My grandkids are each and every one a blessing to me, Peggy. Such great kids. Some of them don’t live very close but I get to see them several times a year. It can be a day trip but a lot of driving in that day. Glad you enjoyed the peek behind the scenes of my character work.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Thanks, Myra. It’s so fun to have people I’ve known forever – well, it’s been a while since we were in high school – to read my books. I appreciate you letting me know you enjoy the stories.

  4. Rory Lynn Lemond

    Loved how you showed how you pre-write to get the feeling for a character. It is a fun way to see how some of your books come to light. I think this character sounds delightful and wonder just how the story turn out.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      I really enjoyed Maggie in this mystery, Rory. She is a great combination of vulnerability and courage. She loves her family and has dreams for her future. I do hope readers will love her too and I bring back a character from mystery one, Murder at the Courthouse, to add to the mix too. I might talk about the setting on Sunday. Trying to talk Hidden Springs while I’m doing this giveaway, and hoping you readers won’t get tired of it.

  5. Paula

    I read a little about Maggie in the Victorian house and it piqued my interest! Yes it’s fun to see how you flesh out the background of a character. It’s an insight into what her outlook on life might be in light of her circumstances. I’ve read the first two books in the series and am looking forward to reading the next one!

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Thank you, Paula. I appreciate you reading the first two Hidden Springs mysteries and hope you’ll enjoy mystery three. Sunday I may share a little more of my pre-writing in regard to that Victorian house.

  6. Pam K.

    I read Murder Comes By Mail and really enjoyed this. With the setting of this new book in an old Victorian mansion, it’s a must read for me. I’m hoping to read Murder at the courthouse sometime too. I like reading about the characters in your small towns. Maggie sounds like an interesting addition.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Thanks for reading my Murder Comes by Mail book, Pam. Now you can go back and get the beginning of the Hidden Springs stories if you decide to read Murder at the Courthouse. It’s been fun staying with these characters while adding a few new ones each book through three stories. I enjoyed writing about my little town of Hidden Springs.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      So glad you read and liked Angel Sister, Sandi. Anytime anybody tells me they liked that book, I’m smiling. Of course I’m happy when a reader is glad she or he has read any of my books, but Angel Sister is a book that has so much of my mom’s memories in it that it’s close to my heart. Sometimes I wish my mind worked just a wee bit better. Or maybe a lot better, but I thank you for your kind words and encouragement.

  7. Margaret Nelson

    It’s always fun to read about how an author comes up with characters, etc. I’m looking forward to reading a,nd learning more, about Maggie!

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Oh, I hope you do like getting to know Maggie, Margaret, when my new book comes out. Glad you enjoyed the peek behind the scenes.

  8. Evelyn Hawkins

    Now I want to know more about Maggie and I’m in the middle of quilting a quilt. Oh well I’ll think about that later.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      You’ll probably have time to finish that quilt before Maggie’s story gets out, Evelyn. The book won’t release until mid-March. I’m glad you want to know more about Maggie. Sunday I may talk about the house. It’ll be one you recognize.

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