There are several ways to approach the art of story telling. There is no right way, as with many things, only the right way to tell the tale. I’m very much driven by characters. Other writers might start with the plot, some might start with an ending, or the beginning and many may not have a clue! For me, I like to get under the characters skin, not just the protagonist but the whole crew however big or small their part may be.
In The Promise, my new release due out on the 23rd June I began with the main character, Harry. The story was motivated by a real life snippet I’d read about a British prisoner of war, who feel in love with an Italian girl. Harry was the name of my grandfather, who fought as a very young man, in the First World War. I remember him as a gentle giant, a tall round figure of a man who taught me to swim, but not my father. My grandfather never spoke about his time in the war, as was the case for many in those days. He never told his son that he had been awarded a medal for bravery. In fact, we never found out until after my Uncle died. It just wasn’t spoken about.
My Harry in The Promise is only connected by name. His character is challenged by the demons of war, by the frustrations of being held prisoner and the sense of duty to his country and later on, by the depth of his love for a woman who captured his heart. But he has other loyalties which will test his convictions. Harry is a man who strives to be better than the best, as a younger son striving for recognition against the elder brother who is placed on a pedestal by his mother. In his friend, Sam he finds the friendship that will keep him going during their incarceration as prisoners of war. Harry will be Sam’s savior and tormentor, he is not easily persuaded to follow a path he does not want to tread.
Yet he is also a victim, of lies and deceit by others and by his mind. Does he keep his promise? Will he be able to be loyal and true at the same time? Or do his demons continue to torment him?
In order to draw Harry in my head (I’m a very visual writer) I spent a lot of time exploring his traits, his personality, writing notes, pinning photo’s and asking him questions. If only I had that opportunity with my grandfather.
If you want to know more about Harry, then you’ll have to read the book! And if you do, please let me know what you think.