Damages   4 comments

What’s the worst wound (emotional or physical) one of your characters has ever had to deal with? How did you react to writing the scene?


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Hard on my Characters

I write post-apocalyptic and fantasy. It would be silly to assume everybody in a post-apocalyptic world is going to survive and the thing about fantasy is that everyone runs around with these great big swords. Sooner or later, someone is bound to get killed. Might as well just accept reality in such fiction.

Daermad Cycle

I started out killing Prince Maryn about 20 pages into The Willow Branch. His death sets up turmoil of the next century in Celdrya. It’s always in the background. I’ve got a beta reader who says she is always waiting for who dies next. Clearly, I kill my characters if the story demands it. At the end of The Willow Branch, Tamys is at the edge of death. He lives, but is blind. In Mirklin Wood, Danys falls and his survival remains a question even at the end of Fount of Wraiths.

Transformation Project

I kill 30 million Americans by the end of the first book Life As We Knew It. I kill a hundred more, including characters who had spoken, in Objects in View. Jacob died peacefully in his sleep of ordinary old age in Gathering In. In Winter’s Reckoning, Shane falls and dislocates a hip and comes close to dying of hypothermia. Everybody thought Mike died in Gathering In, but he appears at the end of A Death in Jericho, just as Cai takes a bullet across town. You’ll have to read Worm Moon, due out later this year, to find out if Mike is really alive (Shane’s PTSD has included a “ghost” of Mike) or if Cai lives.

What If Wasn’t

This series isn’t a post-apocalyptic or fantasy, but a new adult drama set in Long Island, but somehow I can’t get away from injury or death.

At the end of Red Kryptonite Curve, Peter drove a car into a tree, dislocating his shoulder and smashing Chyenne’s face. The book ends with Peter deeply depressed, admitting he’s an alcoholic, and he wants to save himself.

That desire to stay sober is not as easy to accomplish as it is in a Hallmark movie, so at the end of Dumpster Fire, Peter’s drunken actions result in Alyse’s death and potential injuries to others. Do you think an 18-year-old kid who kills his sister, even accidentally, might suffer some emotional wounds? That’s the subject of Pocketful of Rocks which comes out next month. All I can say is that I bawled when I wrote the book..several times. Often times when I write injury scenes, I try to be very clinical about it so it doesn’t touch me, but with Peter, the scenes center on him and…wow…painful. I thought Shane could be dark, but Peter….

The Worst?

I think, if I had to choose, the character with the worst physical injury of all of them is Geo, Jazz Tully’s brother (Transformation Project), who was shot in the head and is currently serving as a lab rat for his employer. He can’t move, speak or breathe on his own, so I’d say that’s the worst injury…so far. I actually woke up a few times while writing his scenes, momentarily feeling like I couldn’t move, so it is disturbing to write it.

4 responses to “Damages

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  1. I went the opposite direction in my small town mystery series. In some of the books, no one died! But in post-apocalyptic fiction? Death is the norm.


    • If I were writing a mystery series set in a small town, I’d be careful how many people I bumped off. You wouldn’t want to be like Murder She Wrote where they had to move the character to a big city to avoid explaining why there was still anyone living in Cabot Cove.


  2. I have been told by a couple of agents not to kill off characters, but I suppose as you say, if everyone’s running around with a sword then somebody is going to suffer!


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