Knowing Your Characters, by Andrea Kane

On Tour With Andrea Kane, Bestselling Author of “A Face To Die For”

While deciding on a subject for a guest post for this tour, I ran across an article on Andrea Kane’s blog entitled “Why I can’t write a first draft.”  Loved it!   It is all the detail that fascinates.  So I asked her to elaborate on how she develops—and keeps track of—her characters, and her process of researching. Ms. Kane wrote a lovely response that you can read right here.

Her article is part of the virtual book tour for A Face To Die For, hosted by Partners in Crime Book Tours.  You will find Ms. Kane visiting a variety of sites for the tour.  Stop in on as many as you can.  It’s a fantastic way to learn more about an author.

Enjoy!

An Article from Andrea Kane

For me, one of the hardest questions to answer is how I do my character development and my research. I guess that’s because the whole process is so chaotic and I’m so very structured by nature—and those two things are diametrically opposed. There’s no room for linear structure in writing a book—at least not for me. I’m generally all over the place, from beginning to end!

For starters, some books are character-created first, some are plot-created first (usually starting with a “what if”). Both are equally frustrating and challenging because the development stage comes next. If it’s a character-created story first, I have to do all the fleshing out of the character(s) who’ve been born in my mind, and then weave them into a storyline of their own creation (together with my hopefully-fertile imagination). If it’s a plot-created story first, I have to get a firmer grip on the full scope of the storyline and then cultivate the characters who mentally pop up as I go. I know, it sounds complicated. Trust me, it is.

So how do I create my characters? They’re the heart and soul of my books. I can see them, hear them, and interact with them. (Yes, I am a crazy writer.) But I need to flesh them out, get at all the nuances that make them who they are. I probably should do formal character sketches on paper, but that never seems to work for me. I’m more comfortable getting to know them, after which it’s like writing about a friend you instinctively know—what they’ll say, how they’ll behave under specific circumstances, etc. The basics of their lives, such as where they grew up, went to school, had previous careers, along with their physical specs like height, hair and eye color, habit and affectations—those things I sometimes jot down (and then promptly lose the page where I jotted them).

When I’m dealing with recurring characters, like the Forensic Instincts team, I always think it should be easier. It’s not. Because with each successive novel, new layers of each team member are peeled away, new facets of their lives are revealed, and new growth takes place in them as human beings and as professionals. What is easier about dealing with recurring characters is the sense of reconvening with old friends—I absolutely love writing the FI team and each development in their characters is a labor of love. Adding new team members is also super exciting for me; each one adds a new dimension to the dynamics of the group.

Okay, now let’s talk about research. I’m an authenticity fanatic. I take as little poetic license as I can and strive for as much accuracy as possible. And while the Internet is a necessary and wonderful tool, there’s no substitute for gathering information from the pros. I’ve been very fortunate to have consulted with the FBI for the past dozen or so years, meeting with and speaking to experts in every field from Behavioral Analysis (BAU) to Organized Crime to Crimes against Children (CAC) to Art Theft—I could go on and on. Each Special Agent and support staff member has helped me enhance my characters and bring authenticity to my plots. The NYPD has also been key in writing facets of my suspense thrillers. And those are just my law enforcement contacts!

I’ve also had fascinating fact-gathering talks with medical experts in those of my books that had strong medical themes (including A Face To Die For where I needed and received veterinary expertise) and input from so many professionals in other fields. All that research takes months, and I frequently have to arrange follow-up calls as my story unfolds and new questions crop up. Integrating all this while continuing to write a fluid story is probably the most challenging part of my research process. I always want my answers ASAP and I’ve never been good at the dreaded four-letter word “wait”, especially when I can’t forge ahead without the necessary details to do so.

And last, you’d think all this hard work would mean less editorial input. It doesn’t. On the technical front, my manuscripts are pretty clean when they’re delivered, so (thankfully) no major rewrites are necessary. But, from the onset of my fledgling storyline, the conceptual editing is intense and ongoing, just like my character-development and my research/plotting. I edit myself every day and my editor and I reconvene after I’ve written a chunk of each book to make sure what I’ve written is solid and the direction I’m heading in is strong and on target. The ultimate work is mine, but the editorial input is necessary.

So that’s my writing process, in a nutshell. Its intricacy is why I always tell aspiring writers to love what they do, or to choose a different profession!

☺ Fortunately, I can’t imagine doing anything else, so I feel very lucky to be able to create my novels and share them with my readers. Difficult or not, for me, it’s worth it!

The Tour

A Face to Die For

by Andrea Kane

on Tour September 18th – October 20th, 2017

Synopsis:

A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane

Urban legend says that everyone has a double, or exact look-alike. Would you search for yours? And if you found them, would you risk your life for theirs?

When a chance encounter outside the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan results in mistaken identity, wedding planner Gia Russo is curious to find the person whose cell phone picture has been shown her—veterinarian Dr. Danielle Murano, her exact look-alike. A Facebook private message blossoms into a budding, long-distance friendship, and the two women agree to meet in New York and see the truth for their own eyes.

Shocked at the sight of one another, they quickly bond over drinks, childhood pictures and an uncanny feeling that they share more than just a visual resemblance. Together they decide to end the speculation and undergo DNA testing for siblingship. But when the tests confirm they’re identical twins, more questions are raised than answered.

And with good reason. The same mysterious forces that separated the sisters years ago are still at large, frantic to keep the two women apart. Their attempts to do so become more violent once it becomes clear that the two sisters have found each other. But when the danger escalates and the sisters fear for their lives, Gia turns to a former client of her wedding planning company, Marc Devereraux of Forensic Instincts, for help.

Despite being embroiled in another case, Forensic Instincts agrees to help Gia and Danielle discover who has been threatening them. And when Forensic Instincts discovers that this case is linked to the [Mafia, Organized Crime], they must dig up skeletons better left buried, and get at the frightening truth without destroying the sisters and the families they have grown to love.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 1682320103 (ISBN13: 9781682320105)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York
March 1990

Anthony slid behind the wheel of his Ford Taurus and started it up, cranking up the heat the instant the engine turned over. It was friggin’ freezing outside. Even in the five minutes it had taken him to walk the babysitter to her front door, the temperature outside felt like it had dropped ten degrees, and his car was an icebox.

Shivering, he zipped his parka up as far as it would go and gripped the steering wheel, maneuvering the car away from the curb. He’d finally shared an evening out with his wife. It should have eased the knot in his gut. After all, it had been the first time that he and Carla had left their infants with a sitter since the babies had been born a month ago. And Judy was the perfect babysitter—a good girl from a good family, one who studied rather than doing drugs and screwing horny guys.

Still, dinner had been strained.

Anthony had only picked at his manicotti, his favorite dish at Raimo’s. His mind was far away, and acid kept building up in his stomach.

Carla couldn’t stop worrying and talking about the babies. She’d checked her watch a dozen times, intermittently giving Anthony puzzled looks and asking if he was okay.

Each time she asked, he’d assure her that he was fine, just exhausted from work and midnight feedings.
As if to contradict his words, some new waiter had dropped a tray of dishes on the floor, and Anthony had nearly jumped out of his skin at the crash.

Carla rose, asking him to order her another drink and to get one for himself to calm his nerves. Giving in to her new-mother concerns, she went to the pay phone in the back to call Judy for an update. So far, so good, Judy had reported. But that didn’t totally erase Carla’s fretting. She tried her best to be bright and chatty, but the truth was that, as this point, she was ready to go. She’d fiddled with her napkin and sipped at her drink, making small talk and glancing at the door.

Getting the hell out of there had worked for Anthony. He was more than ready to be home with his family and not out in the open. He’d use his fatigue as an excuse. He had to continue keeping the inevitable from Carla, until he had no choice but to tell her. He’d soften the blow as best he could. But the important thing was that his family would be protected at all costs.

Now, the heat in his car roared to life, warming his body but doing nothing to extinguish his inner chill. He knew the rules. No transgression went unpunished.

Why the hell had he been so preoccupied with new fatherhood that he’d forgotten to make his collections from the designated list of construction foremen these past two weeks? That in itself was a huge black mark against him—one he’d be punished for. But the outcome of his stupidity opened the door to a far more lethal punishment. Someone else had been sent to handle his route, and his money. They would have collected and turned over twice the amount he’d been handing over. And that meant he’d better be able to explain the discrepancy—assuming he’d even be asked before he was killed.

Please God, let him have that chance. He was just on the verge of buying that gas station he’d been single-mindedly building his bank account for, just about to provide for his family’s future.

And now this.

With shaking hands, Anthony switched on the radio, gritting his teeth as Madonna’s voice blasted off the windows, followed by Michael Jackson’s. He turned the dial until finally the soothing tones of Frank Sinatra’s voice filled the car. Sinatra. Perfect. The Chairman of the Board’s crooning was just the right medicine to ease his clawing anxiety.

He reached his street and turned down the line of small brick row houses, all identical in their flat lines, gated fronts, and tiny gardens. There was a certain comfort and peace about the sameness of it all; it made it feel like a neighborhood.

Would he ever feel that sense of comfort and peace again?

He pulled into his narrow driveway and spotted Carla standing at the front door with a broad smile, giving him a thumbs-up. That meant the infants had come through their first babysitting experience with flying colors.

He forced himself to smile back, but even as he did, his gaze swept the area around the house to see if he was alone. It appeared so. Quickly, he turned off the car and then made the frigid dash to his house.

He couldn’t shut and lock the door behind him fast enough.

The soothing warmth from the heating system enveloped him when he stepped inside. Comfort in yet another form. He was home. Carla and the babies were safe. And for the moment, so was he.

With a wave of relief—however temporary—he let the tension in his body ease. He shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the coatrack.

“You look happy,” he teased Carla. “What’s the final report?”

Carla’s eyes twinkled. “They were perfect. Judy said they’d only woken up once for their bottles and a diaper change. Now they’re sleeping like little angels.”

“Good.” Anthony looped an arm around his wife’s shoulders and led her toward the living room. “How about a nightcap before bed—to celebrate the success of our first night out?”

“That sounds wonderful.” Carla walked beside him, making a left into their comfortable living room.

They’d barely taken half a dozen steps when a tall masked man dressed in black rose from behind the large armchair, his .22 caliber pistol raised.

“Hello, Anthony.”

Anthony knew that voice only too well, and it elicited the chilling knowledge that there was no way out. No threats. Just death. “Welcome home.”

The man’s finger tightened around the trigger.

“No!” Carla screamed.

She threw herself in front of her husband just as the pistol fired.

The bullet pierced her skull, and with a shattering cry, she crumpled to the floor.

“Carla… no… Carla!” Anthony shouted. He dropped to his knees beside his wife’s lifeless body, grabbing her into his arms and openly weeping. “God forgive me. Oh, God forgive me.”

He looked up in dazed anguish, just as a second shot was fired.

The bullet struck Anthony between the eyes. His head jerked backward, and he fell over his wife, dead.
Upstairs, the babies started to cry.

The gunman shoved his pistol back in his waistband. He knew the mob code like he knew his own name. No women. No children. Omertà.

A woman lay dead before him, the taunting evidence of a fuckup.

He took the steps two at a time.

Tucked in their cribs, the babies were still crying as their parents’ killer entered the nursery and hovered over them.

Not even the nightlight could eradicate the darkness.

***

Excerpt from A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane. Copyright © 2017 by Andrea Kane. Reproduced with permission from Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including fourteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles. With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.

Kane’s first contemporary suspense thriller, Run for Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller. She followed with a string of bestselling psychological thrillers including No Way Out, Twisted, and Drawn in Blood.

Her latest storytelling triumph, A Face To Die For, extends the Forensic Instincts legacy where a dynamic, eclectic team of maverick investigators continue to solve seemingly impossible cases while walking a fine line between assisting and enraging law enforcement. The first showcase of their talents came with the New York Times bestseller, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, followed by The Line Between Here and Gone, The Stranger You Know, The Silence that Speaks and The Murder That Never Was.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, The Last Duke, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan. Otherwise, she’s either writing or playing with her Pomeranian, Mischief, who does his best to keep her from writing.

Catch Up With Andrea Kane On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

 

Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Andrea Kane. There will be one (1) winner of an Amazon.com Gift card AND five (5) winners of one (1) eBook edition of A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane! The giveaway begins on September 18th and runs through October 22, 2017.

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1 Response

  1. Cheryl says:

    Since I have read Ms. Kane’s books, both genres mystery and historical, I found this post quite interesting. I enjoy learning more about the author and the process of creating and in A FACE TO DIE FOR, the characters “came to life” for me. I’m looking forward to her next FI novel.

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