Last night I had a speaker-phone chat with a group of readers. One of them asked how I picked the murder victim in my latest book. For a moment, I felt totally baffled. It was really funny. I felt as if I'd been asked, "So, why did you have that particular son?" Uh. well, cause he's the one who showed up?
Sometimes I actually can answer a question like that, because of some conscious choice, but a lot of times it's a funny and fascinating question that I can't even hope to answer, because there's no conscious choice involved at all. So when readers ask me things such as, "Why did character X do that?". . .my answer boils down to, "Because he did." Not very helpful, lol. But when a story feels good, it also feels as if it really must have happened to these people for all the reason things happen to us real people. Sometimes we know why. Sometimes we don't. But things keep happening, nevertheless.
Why did I pick that victim, or any of the other characters?
I kind of think they picked me. "Yo, you. Write about us. Now."
Okay, I say meekly. And listen hard and just type. Or so it seems in hindsight.
Writing is a VERY mysterious way to spend a life. :)