Tag Archives: alys kinnear

Yes, I talk to my characters…

At the risk of sounding schizophrenic (I’m pretty sure most people think I’m a bit neurotic, at the very least): Yes, I talk to my characters. And yes, they talk back to me. I don’t know if that’s the case for every fiction author, but I suspect it is, at least on some level.

To me, Alys Kinnear is a very real person. I don’t know if she only lives in my imagination, or if I’m tapping into (or, as Robert Heinlein proposed, actually creating) another universe to tell her stories. I’m not sure it matters, really.

Either way, characters in my novels – main characters, at least – are never just characters. I have conversations with them in my head, sometimes in the form of an interview, sometimes just talking. I use that as a way of getting to know them, which helps me flesh out who they are in the novel I’m working on.

If I can’t get a character to talk to me, it’s an early warning sign that the story isn’t working right. I wish I’d been aware of that when I was working on Knights Errant…sadly, it’s a realization that only came to me in the last couple of years. But realizing it has helped improve my writing by giving me a litmus test for the story.

The end result, or at least the ideal goal, is for the characters to become fully realized people. Not literally…Alys doesn’t actually appear and stand behind my shoulder while I’m writing, dictating her memoirs to me (or does she?). But she definitely does talk to me, helps me define who she is, and helps me write her stories. When she doesn’t…I know I’m doing something wrong, and it’s time to take a step back and review.

Robert Heinlein proposed the concept of “Pantheistic multiple-ego solipsism” (or the World as Myth) to describe the idea that an author (or artist of any variety) actually creates a parallel universe simply by writing about it. The pantheistic solipsism can be described as all myths and fictional universes existing as parallel universes to our own, and that persons and beings from those universes can interact with one another. Including – especially – creators and their creations.

He took it to its ultimate (and delightfully bonkers) conclusion in Number of the Beast, where his main characters hold a multi-universal convention, inviting all of the greatest writers and fictional characters to come and rub elbows with one another. Critics (and some reporters) were gently shown to a lounge where they could observe the proceedings but not interact with any of the guests…a lounge which turns out to be the dimensional equivalent of a Klein Bottle. Which tells us everything we need to know about Heinlein’s feelings on the matter. 😊

Does that mean that somewhere, in a nearby universe, Alys Kinnear is real and that I have some sort of connection with her? I like to think so. I find the idea very comforting, somehow. Am I telling her stories, or creating her stories?

I think the best answer is just “Yes.”

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Posted by on April 12, 2018 in My Writing, Ramblings


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New Kinnear Short Story!

I’ve made a new short story set in The Kinnear Chronicles available for free (in several formats) on my website. I had a lot of fun writing this one. Compared to the last one, it’s quite a bit more light-hearted (mostly) and was written almost purely for entertainment purposes. That said, keep an eye open for a few hidden plot-advancing gems hidden amidst the fluff…

Check it out!

The Kinnear Chronicles: A Very Merry Yule
It’s time for the mid-winter Yule celebrations, and Alys Kinnear is
determined to see to it that her boyfriend, Ben Donovan, enjoys it as he never has before. Doing so, to Ben’s discomfort, means taking him along on their visit to the new Swindon home of Alys’s parents: her mother, Deirdre, and her step-father (and former teacher) Jonathan Tremane.

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Posted by on August 1, 2015 in My Writing


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Ask Alys – 6/15/14

Mandy asks: What do you like to do in your spare time? It seems that you are on cases, learning or training a lot. In the last book, you went on a few dates with Ben…but other than that, what interests you that isn’t in a way related to your work?

Alys: I’m studying to be a professional wizard. That has a tendency to eat up time like you wouldn’t believe. The end result is not having much spare time for hobbies.

Athena: Or sleep, sometimes.

Alys: Too true. That said…the best thing about studying to be a wizard is how spectacularly multidisciplinary a field it is. Since I began my apprenticeship with Jonathan Tremane, I’ve studied – in addition to the Art of spellcasting – an incredibly wide variety of subjects, including psychology and sociology, comparative religion and mythology, chemistry, physics, woodworking and metalsmithing, law and history.

Jonathan assures me that if I decided to sit for exams at Oxford or Cambridge, I could get degrees in at least half of those. Frankly, I don’t doubt it…while my peers were in grammar school, I was already studying college-level material.

Unfortunately, that means that the worst thing about studying to be a wizard is that everything you do is eventually related to your work in some way or another. Whether you mean it to be, want it to be, or not. For example: I’ve been playing the Celtic Flute (a wooden flute with a lovely, rich sound) since I was a little girl. At first, I did it because I thought that learning an instrument of some sort would help me be accepted by the other kids. I stuck with it because I enjoy the discipline of it, and because it’s very relaxing to let myself go in the music.

I’m not professionally good, but I get by without making people wince.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that some species of supernatural predators can be calmed and lulled into sleep through the proper application of music. I have no doubt that sooner or later, playing the flute will come in handy in my work. In the meantime, it’s a lovely hobby.

What else? I read voraciously (obviously), and I have a fondness for Breton poetry (the works of T.S. Elliot and Robert Browning are amongst my favorites) and mysteries. Conan Doyle is a special favorite.

I also love going to the theater, be it for concerts, musicals or plays. And I’ve been known to go to the occasional film, though I find the tendency of movie theater owners to turn up the sound to deafening levels rather annoying.

Athena and Ben have been conspiring recently to get me out of the house as often as possible, and not just for work. But we lead busy, active lives, and our schedules don’t always mesh. Fortunately, I love what I’m doing…and as the saying goes, if you love what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work.

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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Ask Alys, My Writing


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