The answer is easy, and complex.
As we create a new book or series, it takes months to get to know our characters. By the time we sit down to write our story, we know them as we would old friends that we see each day. Like friends, they have individual traits and expressions. Sometimes we link them to real life people.
For instance, in our new Missing Pieces book, A FINDER’S FEE, we always imagine Meg Ryan starring as Dae O’Donnell. She looks like Meg in our minds. We imagine her as Dae when we write about our psychic mayor finding things, and making sure her town, Duck, North Carolina, is running the way it should.
We keep huge records of our characters and what they do in each book they’re in— changes to their hair, clothes, marital status—everything. We keep a diary for them. We do the same for familiar landmarks in the books and important events.
Because of this, it’s easy to know what world we’re in.
It’s not always easy to let go of the place and characters you’re setting aside.
Knowing these people so well makes it difficult to say goodbye. You’d like to stay with them and make sure their lives go smoothly. Writing a book is a lot like reading a book—you don’t want to put it down. But there are other interesting characters and places you want to re-visit.
So you snuggle down with the new people and become absorbed in their lives, problems, and relationships. We enjoy our visits with Dae in Missing Pieces, Peggy Lee in her garden books, Jessie at the Renaissance Faire, Stella and her fire chief ghost in Sweet Pepper, and Maggie and Aunt Clara at their pie shop in Durham.
But we try to be the kind of visitors you want to invite back again. We make sure our visit has a beginning, and an end!
Excuse us now. We’re about to visit some witches in the old port city of Wilmington, NC, and a struggling food truck vendor in Mobile, Alabama. They are soon to be our newest friends!