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The Inspiration Behind my Characters: Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

Writing.ie | Resources | Better Fiction Guides | Character
Jane Corry credit Justine Stoddart

Jane Corry

It’s a funny thing, being a novelist. One of the first things that friends and family do when they’ve read your book, is to assume that the murderer/victim/hero/policeman was based on them or the author or a relative or someone else whom they know.

It’s almost as if they can’t believe that writers are perfectly capable of making up characters. But the truth is that we actually work very hard at it!

It’s also true that this particular art can be a bit daunting. The challenge is to create characters who are different enough from each other (both physically and emotionally) so that the reader can distinguish between them easily. But we also have to make sure that our cast is believable and that each member plays a part in pushing  the plot along.

So how do you do that? I personally begin by mulling over my core idea for the plot and then thinking of a main character who could be affected by the goings on. In Blood Sisters, I knew I wanted two heroines. One had to be an artist – Alison – who took a job in a prison. And the other – Kitty – needed to be a woman of indeterminate age who is in a home and doesn’t know why she’s there. We don’t know how they are connected or, indeed, if they are.

I then let the story start to flow and found that my characters began to grow. For example, soon after  I started the second chapter, I realised I needed to visit some brain injury units. It was there I discovered  – to my surprise – that there is a great deal of humour in what you might perceive as a tragic situation. So Kitty began to develop her own wicked sense of fun, despite the fact that she can’t talk or walk. This served to lighten what might otherwise have been a very dark story.

Often my characters take me by surprise by unearthing recollections of people I’d forgotten I’d even known. As I said at the beginning, I make sure that none of my characters are based on one particular person. However, they can be a ‘ pot pourri’ or mixture. In other words, they might include a friend’s way of walking, a neighbour’s habit of sniffing, a sister’s love, a brother’s envy and an old school friend’s competitive streak. Then there will be lots of other traits which I have simply dreamed up.

Personally, I don’t sit down and decide which characteristics I’m going to mix up for whom. That would be too much like ‘characterisation by numbers’. Instead, they just find their own particular combinations onto the page as I write. This part is beyond explanation. It’s a sort of magic which just happens.

I am also very careful to check names. I will Google painstakingly to make sure that the fictional name I have chosen for a celebrity or a street or a town, doesn’t exist. And I usually choose surnames which are very common. Sometimes, I will ask members of my family if I can use their names. And recently, I was asked by a charity if people could place bids for the right to name to one of my characters.  Can you guess which character that was?

Someone, years ago, gave me a very good piece of advice. This was to make sure that I didn’t have characters whose names start with the same letter or sounded similar. Otherwise, the reader might confuse them. So I would never have an Alice in the same novel as an Anna or a Geoff with a Jane!

Another of my methods is to go through magazines and cut out pictures that resemble the characters I have imagined in my head. I will then put them on cork boards and prop these up by my desk. They help to keep my cast ‘real’ in my head and might well give me a clue for the plot. One of my ‘Alison’ pictures had a necklace round her neck. I changed this to a locket which played a big part in her life. I can’t reveal why just in case you haven’t read Blood Sisters!

I also like to create characters who aren’t who they seem. Someone ‘bad’ might be better that you realise. It’s important, too, that the writer gives them a reason for their behaviour. One of Alison’s criminal students has a very ‘good’ reason for doing what he does.

On the other hand, don’t believe everything you’re told!  I’m a great fan of the ‘unreliable narrator’. In other words, a character who appears to be telling the reader the truth but is actually leading them down the garden path! There’s more than one of these in Blood Sisters!

Finally, in case you’re wondering who won the name auction, take a look at a certain character who is introduced on Page 405.

I do hope you enjoy the characters in Blood Sisters. Meanwhile, happy writing – and reading!

(c) Lisa Stone

Author photograph (c) Justine Stoddart

About Blood Sisters:

From the author of the 2016 bestseller My Husband’s Wife, comes a spine-tingling psychological suspense about two sisters bound by a deadly secret, for fans of Liane Moriarty and B A Paris.

Two women. Two versions of the truth.

Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak properly, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here. At least that’s the story she’s sticking to.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison. Someone who wants revenge for what happened that sunny morning in May. And only another life will do…

‘I absolutely loved this chilling and captivating book! Jane Corry is a true master of psychological suspense’ Kathryn Croft, author of While You Were Sleeping

‘Her characters are complex and chilling… the perfect summer read!’ L J Ross, bestselling author of DCI Ryan series

‘Jane Corry hooks us from page one with a chilling tale of betrayal and deceit. Prepare to be bled! Jane Holland, author of Girl Number One.

Order your copy online here.

 

About the author

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist who has written regularly for numerous newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph Weekend section, the Mail on Sunday and Woman. She has spent time working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men – an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her début thriller. ‘I love twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end! My husband says I’m a nightmare to watch dramas with as I love to work out who did it before the final revelation!’

Jane runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals all over the world, including The Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. Until her recent move to Devon, she was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University. She is also an associate member of the Royal Literary Fund.
Many of Jane’s ideas come during her morning dog-jog along the beach followed by a dip in her wetsuit. (She’s an all-year-round swimmer provided the sea isn’t dangerous.) Jane also loves tennis, walking, reading, yoga, the ‘Quiet’ train carriage (a great ‘office’ for writing) and her family. She’s still coming to terms with being an empty-nester but makes up for it with lots of long-distance nagging! Jane’s second husband was a bachelor family friend who is also Godfather to her children. He makes her laugh every day although they can’t agree on how to load the dishwasher!

You can find Jane on Twitter at @JaneCorryAuthor and on Facebook at JaneCorryAuthor.

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