So, in writing the The Messiah Murders, I started off in the mid-90s with Hicks looking, in my mind something like this:
For those who don’t remember, this is Gabrielle Reece, pro volleyball player and all around bad-ass chick.
Originally, she and Paxton had been brought on to be the foils to Matt and generally be his sounding board, asking the sort of questions that would draw out the exposition that we wanted to have…well…exposed, I guess. I was more concerned with the action of the novel and characterization had sort of taken a back seat to that. It certainly wasn’t the best way to go about writing the novel and in fact a lot of people would have told me that I was approaching it backwards; Character should inform the action, not the other way around. However, technical difficulties with my word processor forced me out of the novel writing class and the novel came to a bit of a grinding half, then literally gathered dust for years, getting tinkered with every once in a while. When I returned to writing in 2013, I started thinking about the novel again. One of the things that I took from the novel class was the criticism of one class, where it was suggested that I move the setting of the novel from the American West to something a little closer to home. I eventually came to a compromise and have the novel set in a slightly fictionalized version of the Fraser Valley just east of Vancouver, British Columbia.
However, as the novel progressed and evolved and then got re-visited last year for Nanowrimo 2015, I re-thought how I saw her in the book. I took another approach to the book,moving it from being a straight linear narrative with one person’s POV to a multi-POV in alternating chapters. As I started to write the chapter from Megan’s POV, I found her character was severely under-developed and wanted to get more of a sense of who she was, so that when she and my main character finally meet, there would be a real guiding idea of how each would react to the other. So, instead of having her and Paxton show up in media res, I wrote a chapter that establishes the relationship between Hicks and Paxton, as well as giving us a bit of backstory on her and her old partner, Nathan Praminam. It wasn’t extensive but it did create an opportunity to expand on Megan as well as letting me teach myself a little more about her.
As a result the way I saw Megan changed; I originally saw her in a bit more….uhhh… crusty role, kinda like this:
This is Nicola Parker, esteemed English Actress and the co-lead in “River”.
However, as much as I liked the idea of Megan as a Nicola-esque older woman, I didn’t feel 100% at ease with the way that played in the story; as the draft evolved, I saw Megan as somewhat younger, somewhat established in her career but still nearer the beginning of it than the end.
So, as I wrote and re-wrote, the image of how I was seeing Megan evolved again.
Finally, I saw her:
Now, at least in my head, Megan looks more like Stefanie Lanius: Tough but still with a gentler side.