Totally THRILLED to have the awesome Neil White on my blog today talking characters! Eeeek! #MyFave – But first, let’s find out more about his latest Publication: From The Shadows and a little bit about the author himself!!
THE NEW SERIES FROM BESTSELLING AUTHOR NEIL WHITE.
He hides in the shadows, watching, waiting, until the time is right . . .
Mary Kendricks, a smart, pretty, twenty-four-year-old teacher, has been brutally murdered and Robert Carter is accused of killing her.
When defence lawyer, Dan Grant inherits Carter’s case only weeks before the trial starts, everyone expects him just to babysit it, but Dan’s not that kind of lawyer. He’ll follow the evidence – wherever it takes him.
But as Dan and his investigator Jayne Brett look into the case, they discover that there is more to it than meets the eye. In order to do their jobs they need to push the limits of the system, even if it means putting themselves in danger.
Together they will get to the truth – whatever the cost . . .
About The Author
Neil White was born and brought up around West Yorkshire. He left school at sixteen but returned to education in his twenties, when he studied for a law degree. He started writing in 1994, and is now a criminal lawyer by day, crime fiction writer by night.
Thinking of new character is in one way the hardest part of writing, but also, in another, the easiest.
It’s the hardest part because a character should be someone the reader wants to read about. That is fundamental, so it creates a pressure to get it right, because the whole point of being a writer is creating something someone wants to read.
It is also the easiest part, however, because there is inspiration all around, from the people we meet everyday, and the people we wish we hadn’t met.
The latter type is the easiest character to write. If I meet someone I don’t like, I just put them in a book and barely conceal them. I have settled more than a few old scores that way, even thought I won’t name names.
That isn’t to say that I kill them. In fact, the contrary, because the most common request I get from readers or friends is to be killed in one of my books. I am more than happy to oblige, in most cases. Many a good friend has met a grisly demise.
With heroes, it is slightly more involved, because the character should be more enduring, more readable, and I’ve always thought they fall into two distinct types: the person we’d like to be, or the person we’d actually be.
For example, Jack Reacher is the character a reader would like to be, dispatching bullies and villains and never backing down. He’s the hero people whoop for. On the other hand, if an ordinary person had to deal with Reacher’s situations, the stories would be much different. The outcome might be the same but the journey would have a different view. It is these characters that I’ve always wanted to write about, ordinary people in extraordinary situations.
In my new series, there is probably a mix, and there are two heroes: Dan Grant and Jayne Brett. I’m going to make Jayne the focus of this piece, because Dan Grant is a much simpler character to describe, as he’s the lawyer I would like to be.
I’ve been a criminal lawyer for over twenty years, principally working as a prosecutor but I started out as a defence lawyer. I’ve enjoyed an interesting and varied career, and still do, and have worked on pretty much every type of case you can imagine, from the bizarre and weird to the horrific and numbing. As a person, I’m quite chilled and don’t seek confrontation, but I wish I was more combative.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t had my share of scraps in the courtroom, but I’ve always tried to play it straight. When I wanted a defence lawyer as a character, I wanted a defence lawyer who was more of the lawyer I wanted to be. More willing to push the boundaries, more willing to take risks. All I had to do was make him like me but more so. I just imagined what I wish I would do as opposed to what I would actually do.
And younger. With darker hair (more salt than pepper for me these days). I see Dan Grant as the legal career I wished I’d had.
The Jayne Brett character was a different creation though.
In my mind, I had the Petrocelli television series in my head (for anyone under fifty, Google will help), where a defence lawyer had an investigator working for him, but on the outside of the firm, not one of his suited assistants. I wanted that, to have fewer restrictions.
I considered whether to have a male investigator, a Jack Reacher type, but I decided against it. Instead, I wanted to have a young woman as the investigator, but with all the private investigator tropes: a chaotic lifestyle, living from one case to the next, the exact opposite of Dan.
What I like about Jayne is not only her more chaotic nature, but also the personal dynamic she introduces between the two main characters, due to their back-story.
Jayne had once been accused of murder, when her abusive boyfriend died from a stab wound and she had been holding the knife. Dan Grant had been her lawyer, and once acquitted she escaped the aftermath by beginning a new life in Dan’s hometown, a small place in the Pennine hills.
Their shared past makes things complicated. Her feelings for Dan are mixed up with what he’d done for her as her lawyer, but she can’t let herself feel anything for him, because she’d killed the last person she loved, wherever the fault lay. For Dan, Jayne is a former client. That creates a line he cannot cross, however he feels about her.
As a lawyer, it is easy for me to see the defence lawyer as the main character, but I want to avoid that, and see them very much as joint heroes. They each play an equal but different part. Dan does the legal stuff, fights the battles in the courtroom. Jayne does the physical stuff, putting herself in danger outside of the courtroom.
I hope it works out and that people like the characters. That is pretty much all I can do. If people don’t, that’s my fault, but I like them. That’s part of the battle done.
Thanks so much Neil for that awesome post! I could talk characters with authors all day long! I have this book on my TBR and I am really looking forward to reading it! If you fancy a read, click the wee book below….