Mystery Trivia Tuesday: Who IS this Gal? Meet Kate Dalton

What Carolyn J. Rose talks about on my blog today is so true. As writers, we create our characters and often lose control of them after they make an appearance on the page. But that can be a good thing. As they grow and develop, their flaws, idiosyncrasies, and general outlook on life give them a depth that grabs the readers and has them anticipating the next mystery in the series. Meet Kate Dalton, protagonist, of Carolyn's Deadly Duo Mysteries. 
Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of SEA OF REGRET. 

As an author, I’m used to having my characters “talk” to me in the middle of the night or while I’m driving or spending “quality time” in one of the smaller rooms in my house. (You know, the rooms with all those plumbing fixtures.) But until Kathleen mentioned that I might interview one of my characters, the idea hadn’t occurred to me.

Since Sea of Regret is my most recent release, I thought I’d quiz Kate Dalton and see what she had to say about herself and some of the other characters in this suspense novel.

Kate, you’re smart and you’re stubborn. Those two attributes are often in conflict. Why do you think that is?

LOL Because that’s the way you wrote me?

Seriously, you gave me intelligence, rigid parents to rebel against, a strong sense of social justice, and a tendency to speak my mind. That wasn’t just a series of accidents, was it?

No, but it seems to me that as a story unfolds, a character takes on a life of his or her own. How much of what’s revealed about you is the result of what I intended when I plotted the book? And how much is due to the way you react to circumstances and then to the consequences of your reactions?

I think it’s at least 50-50, and possibly as much as 30-70. We get far more insight into people when we see them in action or facing tough situations and decisions. The same is true of fictional characters.

For example, you knew I would survive the fight in the opening pages of An Uncertain Refuge, but when you were plotting the book you didn’t imagine all the repercussions of that. It wasn’t until you wrote past the scene that you started to see a domino effect.

But to get back to smart and stubborn being in conflict, I think that’s true for a lot of fictional characters, and real people as well. If we’re smart, and especially if we’re pragmatic, we clash with people who see only one way to do things or people who embrace power for the sake of being powerful.

Do you clash because you think your way is the right way?

Sometimes. But mostly we clash because I think their way is the wrong way.

You came to love Jackson Scovell at the end of An Uncertain Refuge, and you’re with him in Sea of Regret, but you’re often in conflict. Why?

Jackson is a strong and capable man, but he has a military background and sometimes falls back on that and expects his orders to be followed without question. I see us as a team, as two people with different skills. We struggle with the chain-of-command concept throughout the book—sometimes in humorous ways and sometimes not.

Jackson also tends to rely too much on his strength. When his physical condition deteriorates, he deals with that by denial and procrastination. That creates more conflict, especially in the final scenes.

What about Evie Hopkins, the woman who runs the wildlife rehabilitation center where you all live, what are your conflicts with her?

Evie is even more stubborn than I am and more in denial than Jackson. She’s willing to go all-out for what she believes and she’s able to narrow her focus to the task at hand. Those attributes allow her to devote an enormous amount of time and energy to caring for the creatures she takes in. But at the same time those characteristics give her tunnel vision or blind spots where the rest of the world is concerned.

As the story unfolds, Evie wrestles with the questions of whether she should change and whether she can change.

And what about Way-Ray, the boy orphaned by violence in An Uncertain Refuge? What are his characteristics and how do they create conflict?

Way-Ray is a boy coming up on eleven, getting taller and stronger every day. Like many kids that age, he’s pushing the envelope with adults—pretending he doesn’t hear, deliberately misinterpreting, dragging his feet about doing chores, talking back, etc. Jackson and I don’t have experience raising children, so we don’t always have the “right” response. All of that creates conflict, sometimes of the amusing variety.

In addition, Way-Ray is still working through the trauma of his mother’s death and the abuse of his father and uncle. He’s fragile, but he also lashes out.

How do your intelligence and stubbornness help you in the final scenes of Sea of Regret?

Well, I don’t want to give anything away or you might decide you’re done with me as a character, but I will say that you put me in a position where I had no one to depend on except myself. Beyond that, you created dire consequences for giving up.

In order to survive, I had to be determined to overcome a killer. I had to be smart enough to recognize opportunity and seize it. And I had to be willing to do whatever it might take to get out alive.

It seems that’s also good advice for writers—be determined, recognize opportunity, and do what it takes.

It is. Now get back to your work in progress. The sooner you get that one finished, the sooner I can find out what happens to me next.

Now Meet Carolyn Rose

Carolyn J. Rose is the author of several novels, including Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, and No Substitute for Murder. She penned two humorous cozy mysteries, The Big Grabowski and Sometimes a Great Commotion, with her husband, Mike Nettleton.

She grew up in New York's Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She founded the Vancouver Writers' Mixers and is an active supporter of her local bookstore, Cover to Cover. Her interests are reading, gardening, and not cooking.

Blurb for Sea of Regret

A woman determined to hold onto her land.

Financial sharks out to make a killing.

A life-or-death struggle by the SEA OF REGRET.

A year after the violence and tragedy of AN UNCERTAIN REFUGE, Kate Dalton’s life is shattered again. Developers want Evie Hopkins’ former dairy farm on the Oregon Coast, want it bad enough to sabotage the Castaway Beach Wildlife Rehabilitation Center she runs there. Aligned with developers and hoping to cash in on his inheritance early, Evie’s son claims she’s losing her mind and intends to prove that in court.

The wildlife center is both home and place of healing for Kate, for Jackson Scovell who traded alcoholic oblivion for life with her, and for Way-Ray, a boy orphaned by murder. They fear for Evie and the sick and injured birds and animals she rescues and nurtures, but they vow to support her decision—whether it’s to sell or to fight.

As Evie agonizes over her choice, protests and politics divide the community. Threats and violence escalate. Then two hired killers trap Kate, Jackson, and Way-Ray at a remote cove. And time runs out.

Thanks, Carolyn and Kate, for being my guest today. Carolyn is giving away a copy of SEA OF REGRET. Just leave a comment for a chance to win.

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