I like to write novels. In a dark time in my life, it was novel writing that kept me sane and from losing hope. Writing novels, creating new worlds and new characters, helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel and assisted me in healing from those things that kept me stuck.
Being an only child, I made up stories in my head. When I played house or acted out what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would create a whole backstory to go along with playtime. It was not until I was about twelve that I started writing short stories. The more I practiced, the better I became. Everyone I let read my work liked my stories.
It was not until I was in a creative writing class in college taught by a short, graying woman in her eighties that my Jaguar and Peacock characters came to me.
For one assignment, my teacher made us write a description for each character. I created Jessa Strazzer. I wrote out a long, extensive description for this character, and her husband, Luke Hayden. For years, I tried to fit her into a story, a book, anything. She never seemed to work in any format. I put her away. I did not think I would ever go back to her, but ten years later, with fresh eyes, I looked at her again. Only this time instead of just being a StarVessel captain, she would also be a Federal Agent, solving cases in space.
With the concept in place, I tried to work through stories for her. I landed on one, but the characters did not seem right. Her partner wanted to be the husband, and Luke Hayden, the original husband, wanted to be one of the bad guys, so I made the switch. Bingo! The story unfolded into a book. The characters started talking to me. I always know when I am onto something with a novel when the characters start talking, when they take on a life of their own.
I finished one novel, then another and another until there were nineteen novels with these same characters. It took ten years, but the story, the characters and the format finally came to life.