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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

***Contest*** Revisiting Characters Years Later... by Cynthia Vespia

 We all know by now how novels are birthed. An idea is impregnated in my brain that must claw its way out before the host body is threatened. Novel is then nurtured through the initial pages, edited, and sent off into the world to find its place.

But sometimes that novel returns with luggage in hand looking for a place to crash for the night, which inevitably turns into months and then years. I know it sounds like I'm speaking about children, right? Well, in a way, a writer's work is their baby. Sometimes a beautiful blessed child and others a spoiled brat.
I have a fond place in my heart for everything I write even if it never sees the light of day. My new thriller Life, Death, and Back had a strange journey. The novel itself is the story of a man named Bryan Caleb's sudden death and subsequent return to form as a guardian angel of sorts. This was the initial story that stirred awake inside me (during yoga class of all things) almost ten years ago. I finished it, put it away, and went on to something else. I'm a little OCD that way, but aren't we all? Don't deny it.

So in all honesty a year rolled by when I was visited by this story again. It returned to me as I was minding my own business completely unaware. Knee deep in something I'm sure was important, it crept up behind me and bludgeoned me with a fresh continuation of the initial idea: Bryan now dead for so many years is suddenly resurrected. After picking myself up from the floor I took the bait and jumped right in. What wicked fun it is to write about a character fresh from the dead. Even in a contemporary piece there are no real rules!

I married parts I&II together and had myself quite a delectable little tale ready to be unleashed on the world. Then I of course put it aside and moved on with indulging more latent tendencies. It seemed this novel may never really see the world until one day my present publisher Sue Durkin at Weaving Dreams came across it. Sue enjoyed the story and wanted to release it but with one special request: We needed a third and final installment to round everything out.

I was up for the challenge but it quickly became daunting. It had been awhile since I'd seen Bryan and his crazy friends. I'd been knee deep in my other novels like Demon Hunter and the female gladiators in The Crescent. So I had to go back and find out who these people were, what made them tick.
What I found out is that these characters become a part of you. As soon as you breathe life into them they remain with you for all time, ever so subtle but still alive in your memory. It didn't take me long to pick right up where I left off...and let me tell you it was fun!

I've written a series before. But Demon Hunter was done back-to-back with virtually no break in between. For Life, Death, and Back a great deal of time accrued from start to finish. But I really did enjoy revisiting my old friends and putting them through more ordeals and troubles they had to find their way out of. Good times!

So I'd like to invite you to share in the same experience. One lucky winner will walk away with an electronic copy of LIFE DEATH and BACK so you can find out exactly what I've been talking about here. Enjoy a preview below:

The first sojourn from life to death was very much the epitome of birth. Brilliant flashes of light were aglow all around bathing snapshots of memory, minute but hardly trivial.
When the ride stopped and the suspension of disbelief released him, Bryan was curious to find his own corpse stretched out at his feet. It lay on the grassy lawn in front of his office building, twenty feet from where he had initially been walking.
The corpse, his corpse, stared up at him through one wide eye. Sightless now it still echoed the feeling of shock that he had felt the very moment the vehicle had struck him.
Though he wanted to look away from the tragic scene utter terror and confusion gripped him still. Pedestrians and motorists surrounded the accident and sirens wailed in the distance.  He was oblivious to it all.
All Bryan wanted to do was crawl back inside his body, stand up and say, "Hey, look at me, I'm fine. Not a scratch." Then there were strong impulses pulling him into the belief that this was just a nightmare. At any moment he was going to respond with a shudder and a cold sweat but he would wake, frantic at first, until he found himself in bed next to his lovely wife, Holly.
He hadn't bothered to wake her that morning. She was radiantly aglow in her pregnancy as she slept. It was their very first child and they were overjoyed to be experiencing this miracle after only one year of marriage.
Bryan had kissed her on the cheek and gone on his way to the law firm. His place of business was another joyful experience to be able to share with Holly. Bryan was the youngest of his class to seek and sustain a substantial position within a reputable law firm. Of course it helped that his father had owned and maintained the firm since Bryan had been a boy. But now it was his own, inheriting it when his father had passed away just two years after Bryan had graduated from law school.
It was an unusually cloudy day in Stanford, but nevertheless Bryan was in an upbeat mood. Whistling as he crossed the street to his offices he had never even seen the drunk driver's vehicle coming. Perhaps he had not wanted to. As the saying goes he had been looking upon the world with rose-colored glasses up to that point. No harm could befall him, he was indestructible. Throughout life Bryan had truly felt blessed, now it was all gone. In an instant his entire life had been snuffed out. His promising future was no more. All that was left was another casualty in the war of drinking and driving. He was no longer Bryan Adam Caleb outstanding lawyer, loving husband, expectant father, and genuine nice guy. Now he was just another statistic.
But Bryan didn't understand what was happening. If he was dead, why was he still on this Earth? What happened to the other side? So many unanswered questions tore through his mind.
He refused to believe it.
As paramedics encompassed the accident scene Bryan turned and ran. His mind was in frenzy and he just needed to get away, get some space to determine what in the world was going on. 
His pace quickened to the point where he felt as though he had wings and could lift off.  Finally he came to a stop at the end of the block and to his surprise he was not at all fatigued.  His leg muscles did not ache and he was not breathing heavy. In fact, he was not breathing at all.
Still in disbelief he went to check his pulse for some sign that he was still alive. His fingers passed straight through his arm. There was no solidity to his wrist at all. He tried two more times with nothing but the same result.
Bryan looked around frantically for help. With his head on a swivel, something above him caught his eye. Lights gleamed up in the sky like as though a great crystal was wedged between two clouds precariously placed for the sun to shine off it.
He stood awed looking at the magnificent colors waning in every direction. It brought him a smile and a sense of peace. After a moment he even thought he glimpsed his loving father's face high above beckoning him to come forward and join him. 
Bryan began to imagine just how nice it would be to be at his father's side again and to see his mother again in perfect and simple bliss.
The lights shone brighter and began to descend down towards him. Bryan stood stock still as they came closer and closer. The bright glare was such that he had to close his eyes but the pleasant images still remained. He felt his feet lift off the ground and he began to rise up with the jubilation.
Many wondrous memories were encompassing him now. Simple joys he new as a boy, more substantial and rich emotions of love and faith and virtue that he'd experienced as a man.  Those worlds of days long since past were uniting on a grand scale and lifting Bryan up higher and higher into ecstasy the likes of which he had never known before. But with this cataclysm of extraordinary peace came relevance and a fear.
This illuminated structure of memories was a portal allowing him access to the other side.  It was the ever after, bounty and life everlasting would be soon to come. Bryan's time here on Earth had been full but was now over. But he wasn't ready to leave yet.
"No," he stated. His voice was low at first as he still clung to the tranquility of the descending portal and the majesty of what it was. 
He tried hard to shake it off, feeling indifference of a strong nature. Something was wrong. He did not belong here, not now. There was too much left for him to do. He did not want to leave his unborn child fatherless. The Caleb Family Law Practice was on a steady rise; Bryan needed to leave his legacy before he left this Earth.
As his will to stay grew stronger and stronger he shouted "No!" more defiantly than before and this time it broke him away from the suction of the light.  
To find out what happens, order your copy of  Life, Death, and Back right now.
Visit Cynthia at: www.CynthiaVespia.com
See the trailer and find out more about Life, Death, and Back:

 One lucky winner will walk away with an electronic copy of LIFE DEATH and BACK just be sure to leave a comment and an email where your prize can be sent.


  1. Interesting post. I know that as a reader characters can stay with me. I also have read books years later and the characters and the story have changed because I've had more life experiences and how I see them changed.


  2. Hi Cynthia,
    What a great article. You're so right when you say no matter how much time passes, when you return to that piece you were working on, you still love those characters and it's easy to pick right back up and work on it. Best of luck with your release...Tabs

  3. Wow, Cynthia! This sounds really intriguing! I'm glad Bryan came back to life. My husband's name is spelled exactly the same, so I think it's perfect :)


  4. This was a great article Cynthia. I'm not a writer but I know I've read great books that were written so well that I never forget the characters.
    Let's just say that the writer wrote the character so life like that you find yourself falling in love.
    Very interesting and impressive article.

    Teresa K.

  5. I have some manuscripts like that. I finish them and start a new one, but they don't really leave you.


  6. Great interview ladies! AND what an intriguing concept! Sounds like a great read!! Thanks so much for sharing!



  8. I would love to read the rest!! It sounds like a great read!!


  9. Thank you everyone for stopping by... Cynthia you are so right about characters, some books/characters never leave you, I have thought that about a recent book by Jean Auel... its been decades since her last book but her character Ayla never gets old and is as clear in my mind as when I read the 1st book in the series:)



  11. Thanks for all the great comments guys! I write for reader's entertainment so I thrive on the feedback...its like a shot in the arm, the juice that is my fix like an adrenaline junkie. Which is why I keep my posts informative but light and entertaining at the same time.
    Thanks for hosting me, Brandy. If you all want to see more visit me on my own blog: www.cynsights.blogspot.com
    Good luck to all!