The Exorcism of Alex
I had a conversation with my next-door neighbor recently. I was whining (in case you didn’t know, writers whine a lot) about how my main characters weren’t doing what I wanted.
My next-door neighbor is not a writer. She stared at me as if I were insane.
“But you made them up,” she said. “What do you mean, they won’t do what you want? Just write it however you’d like.”
Insert hollow laugh.
Main characters can definitely have minds of their own, even when they’re not in a story. I know. I’ve been haunted by one.
Alex, the main character of the Angel Burn series, started life in one of my early, unpublished novels. His name then was ‘Alex Deftblade’ and he was a thief in a fantasy world. The novel didn’t work, and I put it aside…but Alex refused to leave. He just hung around in my head, demanding that I write about him.
If you’ve read Angel Burn, you can imagine what this was like. Alex isn’t shy.
Fast forward about ten years. I was published, but Alex still wouldn’t go away. He was a constant presence: a teenage boy with dark hair and blue-grey eyes, watching everything I wrote and saying, That’s not about me. When are you going to write my story?
I wanted to. Very much. But I knew it had to be the right one. Finally, finally I had the idea for Angel Burn – and Alex Deftblade became Alex Kylar, a killer of angels.
Did this make the Alex in my head go away? Ha. He became more of an obsession than ever. Willow wasn’t the only one in love with him (thankfully, my husband’s pretty understanding about fictional rivals). And so it went for the four years of writing the series. I could not get Alex out of my head.
Then I finished Angel Fever, the final book. And once the last edits were done, Alex seemed to smile at me…and faded. I couldn’t believe it. After so many years, the ghost in my head was gone. I’ve finally exorcised him – by writing his story and giving him to you.
It’s a bittersweet feeling. I miss him. But it’s also a relief, because I must have gotten his story right; otherwise, he’d still be right there, watching everything I do. I have a new main character haunting me now…but I can never love him quite as much as Alex.
Goodbye, dear ghost. I wish you a wonderful journey as you travel through the world of readers.
And as for my neighbor – you know what? Maybe we’ll just stick to swapping recipes from now on.