Biggest Surprise to the Author: Death Wishes, Life Purpose, and PTSD

Question:  I’ve heard that characters sometimes really surprise an author and don’t always behave the way the author expects when he/she starts writing the novel.   Did Lilah Burns do anything to surprise you while you were writing The Secret Lives of Librarians?

Answer:  She did plenty to surprise me during the course of telling her story, some of which will surprise the reader, so I won’t give it away.  But what really surprised me was finding out that this tough Special Ops girl who seemed so fearless struggled through the entire book to figure out the very point of her life and whether she wanted to live or not.

You can call it Post Traumatic Stress, if you want, either from the horrific incident that happened in her childhood or her part in the war machine as an early 20-something, but she really is lost, lost, lost up until the last chapters of the book.  She has been the victim of horrible crimes and has the kind of dark secrets that eat away at a person’s sanity unless she can come to terms with them, and her way of moving forward is to challenge death, at least on a subconscious level.  She knows she can’t go on this way indefinitely, and that maybe death–or some kind of limbo where she won’t have to relive her past–may give her the relief she seeks.  She needs forgiveness, and then she needs a purpose.

Hmmm.  Not at all who I thought she was when I wrote the first page of the story.

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