Author – Teacher
Calling Forth Our Characters
Today’s post is classier than usual. I’m honored to turn the page over to Gail Kittleson. I thought some of my readers would like to meet Gail prior to the fall release of her sequel to With Each New Dawn.
The World War II era intrigues Gail Kittleson, who writes from her northern Iowa home. After instructing English as a Second Language and expository writing, she published a memoir and now focuses on women’s historical fiction. She also facilitates writing workshops/retreats.
She and her husband enjoy their grandchildren and in winter, Arizona’s Mogollon Rim Country. You can count on Gail’s heroines to ask honest questions, act with integrity, grow in faith, and face hardships with spunk. Here’s Gail.
The female Gambel’s Quail chirping to her young before they hatch gives such a powerful picture of a mother’s role. I’m working on a book for midlife women, using desert life’s survival strategies to navigate midlife’s pitfalls.
That mother quail calling her chicks to life sticks with me. So does an amazing desert flower, la Reigna de la Noche, which blossoms just once each year. At night. In obscurity. About the third week in June, around sunset, with help from insects and birds, the Queen of the Night propagates itself.
Blossoming just one day a year . . . calling your unhatched chicks into life . . . I said I’d be writing about characterization, and I’m getting there.
Yesterday I read about Ananias, the early Damascan disciple commanded to lay hands on temporarily blinded Saul. This would-be Apostle had already dreamed of Ananias coming to heal him.
If I were Ananias, I’d feel a little STUCK, backed into a corner. If he refuses to obey, God’s plan (which He reveals to Ananias—to use Saul in a mighty way in propagating the Gospel) goes awry. Who could handle that sort of guilt?
But the Master adds, “Don’t argue! Go! . . . I’m about to show him what he’s in for—the hard suffering that goes with this job.” (Acts 9: 15-16 MSG)
That one extra bit of motivation might have made all the difference. So God hand-picked Saul, and he’s going to suffer like the rest of us . . . Who knows if Ananias thought like that, but it’s how I think—above all, I want justice to be done.
That’s a character trait. For me, it goes back to a bottom-line concern for things to turn out right! As you can imagine, that trait has required tweaking over the years.
I’m also working on a novel set in Pine, AZ, where we spend most of the winter
|A bit of the Mogollon Rim
near Gail’s winter home.
right under the Mogollon Rim. My heroine Abby’s character arc develops under the shadow of that Rim and evolves in the same way as this blog article. Bit by bit.
Abby came to me years ago, the winter my husband spent in Iraq. But she’s been a little reticent to let me see into her soul. I’ve realized only recently that she’s also reticent to embrace joy.
Once, she lunged into the emotion of the moment, but as hurt after hurt piled on her, she shrank back from joy. If we do that long enough, our capacity becomes stunted, and recovering the faculty happens ever so gradually. That’s my Abby.
A dear friend sent me a card that said, “Blooming is risky business—just ask any flower.” Yes, but what kind of world would be flowerless? Impossible to calculate the effect of beauty—how many times has a glimpse of loveliness thwarted evil or encouraged a despairing soul to plod on? The Rim’s natural beauty attends Abby as she regains her ability to enjoy life.
Those of you who write, how do your characters evolve? And readers, what types of character strengths/flaws entice you most?
|One more soon to come.|
We’ll try to get Gail to come back as her new book nears publication. Stay tuned.
Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays
Thank a veteran