Why does our gal Bunny do what she does? What motivates Max, Naidenne, Merrill or Judy? Read about their backgrounds, and other details you won’t find in the books, in their character sketches.
When I begin a new work, or whenever a new character pops up in the narrative, I like to complete a brief synopsis of the character’s background and personality. This adds depth to the people populating my books, as well as providing me with a place to go to compare what I plan for a character to do or say, so it doesn’t appear “out of character” in the finished work. The writing software I use, Scrivener, has helpful templates providing prompts about the character being created. Even though only brief glimpses of a complete character may appear in the story, these sketches provide continuity and a firm foundation for the person’s motivations and actions. I thought it would be fun to share a bit more of the background of some of the people you meet in my stories, so from time to time, I will be revealing information from the background sketches of my favorite characters.
First up: the lovable, incorrigible Bunny Elder
Character Name: Born Leveline Davis – preferred nickname “Bunny”
Role in Story: Protagonist in the Bunny Elder Adventures series, she also pops ups for cameo appearances in the First Ladies Club books.
Occupation: Former pastor’s wife and secretary/reporter on a small town newspaper (Hollow), turned free-lance writer (Seadrift), and currently an aspiring novelist (First Ladies Club)
Physical Description: Bunny is a petite woman in her mid-fifties with a sweet smile, mischievous blue eyes, and soft honey-blond hair sprinkled with silver and gray. She struggles to combat a tendency to chubbiness by eating less than she’d like, doing yoga and taking long walks.
Personality: Bunny is a devout Christian, constantly humbled by her own disobedience and failings. Nevertheless, she is determinedly optimistic, with a penchant for plain speaking.
Habits/Mannerisms: Constantly looking for the best in people and circumstances can get Bunny into trouble. Without looking for it, she stumbles into some pretty scary situations involving a varied collection of bad guys who want to do her harm.
Background: Bunny is the youngest of three sisters raised in a small mountain town in Northern California. She married her high school sweetheart, Max. Although this early marriage was short-lived, Bunny and Max were never completely out of each other’s heart. On the rebound, she married Rev. Eustace Elder. The marriage, though lacking joy, lasted until his untimely death (Hollow), when Bunny had to start over as a middle-aged widow. For a short while she lived in southern Idaho with her sister, Linda (Vain Pursuits) before relocating to the Oregon Coast (Seadrift).
Internal Conflicts: Bunny has all the same needs and desires as any woman. Most of her internal conflicts involve reconciling these temptations with her determination to be faithful to God. Her on-again-off-again relationship with Max is just one her issues.
External Conflicts: Bunny must deal with a deranged serial killer (Hollow), smugglers and the Italian mob (Vain Pursuits), human traffickers and a new love interest (Seadrift), Somali pirates (…and Something Blue), and a kidnapped friend (The First Ladies Club). You might say she has an overabundance of external conflicts.
Notes: Bunny steps out of the books and drops in to host my blog from time to time, as well.
Next Up: Naidenne Davidson:
Character Name: Born Naidenne Grinager. (Introduced inSeadrift) Married Rev. Scott Davidson (…and Something Blue)
Role in Story: Naidenne is Bunny Elder’s first friend when she moves to Bannoch, OR (Seadrift, Something Blue). She is the main character in The First Ladies Club, the first book of that series.
Occupation: Real estate agent/owner of property management company. Also runs a local crafts boutique in a corner of her real estate office.
Physical Description: Naidenne, in her early forties, is almost six feet tall, slim and attractive, with riotous curly red-gold hair she struggles to tame. Until meeting Bunny and getting a little help with her style, Naidenne dressed as inconspicuously as possible in a uniform of straight dark skirts and business-like shirts and jackets. She tried to control her frustratingly independent hair by skewering it into a knot on the top of her head. Once Bunny convinced Naidenne of her model-like beauty, she discovered her own sense of style, shook out her glorious hair and left the dowdy wardrobe behind. These changes soon caught the attention of Scott and resulted in their marriage.
Personality: Modest and unassuming. Although capable and assertive in her business life, Naidenne’s childhood left her scarred and emotionally insecure. Meeting and marrying Scott has changed that. She has blossomed into a confident and kind wife and mother.
Habits/Mannerisms: Unusually for such a tall woman, Naidenne has excellent posture. She is invariably kind and compassionate.
Background: Naidenne, an only child, was raised in various small towns in Oklahoma by parents who were both Pentecostal preachers. She enjoyed a life centered on the rousing church services until she was thirteen, when a painful experience with the visiting evangelist during a revival meeting turned her away from the church and made her distrust all clergy. Because of their lack of support at this time, she is now estranged from her parents. Meeting Bunny, and falling in love with Scott, allowed her to get over her earlier trauma and begin to find her way back to God.
Internal Conflicts: She has residual issues of confidence and trust from that early episode. Being the tallest girl in school made her want to disappear in social settings, but she has overcome those feelings, for the most part. It is important to Naidenne to raise her small daughter, Talitha Joy, with a healthy self-image, so she strives to model that.
External Conflicts: Naidenne is kidnapped and assaulted in The First Ladies Club. She must escape from her attacker, an escaped convict. In the other books where she appears she has only normal relationship issues with her sister-in-law, Rosamund, church members, and the other wives in the First Ladies Club, but thanks to her generous nature, these never grow to the level of conflicts.
Now we learn about the Reverend Doctor I. Merrill Bishop, ThD. , introduced in A Body in the Belfry.
Character Name & brief background: Merrill, born Indigo Merrillanne Rose to hippy parents, has two brothers; older brother Wolf and younger brother, Sage. After spending their preschool years living in a tepee, a caravan and a couple of communes, the Rose children and their now middle-class parents moved to the Southern California suburbs.
Called Indigo as a child, Merrill decided the moniker “Indigo Rose” sounded more like an exotic dancer than a serious student and began using her abbreviated middle name in college, where she met and married William Bishop who was attending a nearby seminary.
Role in Story: Protagonist in the second book in the First Ladies Club series.
Occupation: After enjoying many years as the wife of a pastor, Merrill felt the call to ministry and went to seminary, obtaining her Master’s Degree in Theology. She assisted her pastor-husband until his death from cancer. As a widow, she joined the staff of a large Bay Area inner-city church. When we meet Merrill she has just been called to her first senior pastorate, the struggling First Baptist Church of Bannoch, Oregon.
Physical Description: Merrill has shoulder length blond hair, sprinkled with gray, blue eyes and a trim middle-aged figure. She is petite, but stronger than she looks.
Personality: Fun-loving and mischievous by nature, Merrill feels a responsibility to maintain a more serious demeanor befitting her role in the church and community.
Habits/Mannerisms: Merrill is determined to maintain her physical health with regular exercise, including long daily walks on the beach. She plans her wardrobe so as not to appear frivolous, but to seem approachable. Aware of the prejudices some hold against women pastors, she walks a tightrope trying to avoid offending anyone.
Internal Conflicts: Loneliness may be Merrill’s greatest conflict. As a still-vibrant woman, she longs for companionship and intimacy, but fears that becoming involved in close relationships would distract her from her ministry or even undermine her position in her church.
External Conflicts: Someone is killing people in her new hometown and may be targeting her church, the congregation, or Merrill, next.
If you read A Body in the Belfry and wonder what happens next for Merrill, you will be able to catch up with her and her friends in the First Ladies Club in the next book in the series, A Corpse in the Chapel,scheduled for publication this summer.