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Penmore Press Authors on Characters

Books are the carriers of civilization….They are engines of change (as the poet said), windows on the world and lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.” — Barbara Tuchman

Penmore Press is pleased to offer a series of personal reflections on the surprising relationship between author and character. Here you will find a wide range of responses from our authors to their own characters—from those who appeared out of nowhere to those who started small and took over the novel to those the authors (or their families) came to love the most. We hope you’ll enjoy this intimate look into the development of characters and the writing process that brings them to life.

John M. Danielski: The Pennywhistle Series: Tom Pennywhistle in the present day would likely be a member of the British Special Air Service. While physical fitness is important and courage always in evidence with Special Forces operators, mental fitness counts for much more. Intelligence is Pennywhistle’s deadliest weapon, quick thinking his strongest ally, and sizing up a critical situation in a single glance his greatest gift. He quietly solves lethal problems under the sorts of pressure that would leave most wailing in terror

Lou Aguilar: A Dog’s Tale: “Ken Miller was always a golden boy. He had looks, brains and popularity, with a commensurate arrogance, no less toward women. Straight out of Northwestern University; where he majored in political science and practically minored in partying; he went into a suitable career for his manipulative charm, advertising.”

Philip K. Allan: Names and Identities: “Born into a tribal community on the coast of modern day Ghana, Ablanjaye Senghore saw his village destroyed when it was attacked by a rival tribe. The older residents were butchered, while the young were sold to western slave traders. Shipped to Barbados, Ablanjaye spent the next years working in the cane fields of a plantation … One black night he escapes from his compound and is helped to join the navy. His problems begin early.”

Mark Bois: A Packet of Letters: “I came across a dusty packet of letters that introduced me to Lieutenant William Faithful Fortescue and his Irish Catholic wife, Honora O’Brian Fortescue. Their story was an ultimately tragic one… I had never intended to write a novel, but the story was so poignant, so vibrant, that it deserved to be shared.”

Susan Boulton: A WWI Veteran Speaks: “There comes a point in every story I have written where I need to create a small secondary character… In Hand of Glory such was Taffy Holbrook. Originally he was just the owner of the pawn shop. Someone my Police Inspector was to question about stolen goods, and later to be offered certain items by one of gang of thieves…I just needed him to say a few words. It didn’t turn out like that.”

Leah Devlin: Millennials 24-7: “The world-weary Baltimore detective, Jay Braden is inescapably surrounded by Millennials, one being Sergeant Lisa Paco. Lisa Paco was never supposed to be a major character. In fact, she was to be a relatively silent, geeky detective who remained behind her computer at headquarters, working with the IT unit. But Lisa wouldn’t sit still … or be quiet.”

Leah Devlin: Notorious Relatives: “Wait … the story’s missing something. Giles and the other pyrates are feeling amorous. Drum roll please … enter women. Ferocious women, indentured servants-prisoners from the slums of Dublin and London, flee from a brutish foreman on a Virginia tobacco plantation and join the crew of the Raven.”

Diana Forbes: The City as Character: “Readers always tell me that ‘New York is a character”’in my novel. When I walk through the streets today, I imagine how it was back in the nineteenth century. The smell of horses sweltering on a humid summer day. The splinters of sawdust jettisoned in the air from the constant construction.”