Thursday, September 08, 2011

Darrell James, Guest Blogger

I first met Darrell James at the Poisoned Pen. I always enjoy guest blogs by authors. Darrell is going to discuss his characters today. Wait until you read about his villain!


Character creation is an art. It’s also maybe a science. Stephen King has related the relationship between writer and reader as a kind of mental telepathy, where ideas and images are exchanged through words and word pictures. A means of lifting imaginings from one psyche to imprint them emotionally on another.

It’s magic really. And awesomely wonderful to boot. It inspires questions from readers and aspiring writers alike about how the process of developing characters takes place. And where the characters come from?  Are they based on people you know?

The answer is “anywhere and everywhere” and “yes and no”.  (Not a very helpful response I realize.) My characters are drawn from both my imagination and from my experience.

Take the example of my debut novel, NAZARETH CHILD. The story introduces Del Shannon, a young female investigator who works for Desert Sands Covert in Tucson, a firm that specializes in finding and recovering missing persons. She’s beautiful, without being outwardly aware of it. She’s smart and tough, but mostly she’s determined. A woman in a man’s world. Del is largely an amalgam of a number of women I have known or seen, and infused with a very complicated set of traits that I deem both admirable and troubling. She’s, quite simply, someone I could love.

The villain in this story, however, is everything I detest. He’s greedy, arrogant, duplicitous, self-serving, and manipulative. He exudes the kind of personal power and dark charisma that could inspire the lesser to walk off cliffs, step into the fire and burn. He’s known throughout the mountainous reaches of Kentucky as the infamous faith healer, Silas Rule.

Silas, while shaped by imagination, stems largely from my personal experience. I grew up in a rural area of Kentucky, in a string-town along the tracks of the southern railway. Adjacent to the school playground was an Evangelical Church. It was a low red-brick building with no air conditioning and with few windows to allow for a breeze. On hot summer nights, my play friends and I would sneak to a squatting place near the open doorway and  watch in awe as the preacher rained hell, fire, and brimstone upon the congregation. Manically energetic, wildly compelling, he would run the length of the aisles, Bible in hand, climb the backs of the pews. He would fall repentant on bended knee, only to rise up again, furious with damnation. The experience was both terrifying and mesmerizing. Something I have never forgotten. And, therefore, the most workable of clay for the shaping of one of Del’s most sinister adversaries.

Nazareth Child takes Del on her maiden voyage into the hills of Kentucky in search of the mother she’s never known, and into confrontation with Silas, a man who seems to hold the secrets to the past. It’s the first in the series of Del Shannon mystery/thrillers from Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide. I first conceived Del inside my head. Then committed her to life on the page. I fell in love along the way. I hope you will too.

Thank you, Darrell. "Darrell James is a fiction writer with residence in both Pasadena, CA, and Tucson, AZ. His short stories have appeared in numerous mystery magazines and book anthologies, and have garnered a number of awards, to include finalist in the 2009 Derringer Awards. In addition, his personal odyssey to publication appears in the Writer’s Digest book HOW I GOT PUBLISHED, along with J.A. Jance, David Morrell, Clive Cussler, and many other notable authors. The first three novels in his Del Shannon series are currently under contract with Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing."

NAZARETH CHILD is currently available in bookstores and with online retailers.

Darrell's website is

Nazareth Child by Darrell James. Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide Limited. ©2011. ISBN 9780738723693 (paperback), 360p.


Sheila Beaumont said...

This sounds like a book I must read. Silas Rule: great name for a charismatic, sinister villain! And it's in paperback! I've put it in my shopping cart for my next order.

Lesa said...

I've got it scheduled on my TBR pile for later this month, Sheila. Looking forward to it!

Darrell James said...

For you eReaders, Nazareth Child has also just been released for Kindle download.

Lesa said...

Thanks for adding that, Darrell. And, thank you again. The readers may not make a number of comments, but there will be about 300 people showing up here today to check out the blog. Only a small number choose to comment.

Darrell James said...

I'm honored, Lesa. Thanks you!

Susan Storer said...

I read the book and loved it! Darrell masterfully brought the characters to life and I really got involved in the story. The descriptions of the setting are so exact, it is easy to picture the area. Looking forward to the next Del Shannon adventure.

Anonymous said...

This sounds most interesting. It is definitely going on my TBR! I love hearing how characters develop.

I am one of those who rarely or intermittently comments but I always read the blog.


Lesa said...

You've, been doing more commenting lately, Brenda. I tell authors that readers don't always comment, but there are over 300 of you who read the blog daily. Thank you.