I get asked a lot of questions as a writer; the most common is “where do you get your ideas?” but coming in a close second is: “who’s in charge, the character or the author?”
As the author of a deeply-flawed protagonist, I’m compelled to dig pretty deep into the crudpuddle of humanity to get my head around some of her knee-jerk reactions. Many writers will tell you, sometimes a character shocks the hell out of her author. My main character, Marnie Baranuik, is an ex-pro psychic, cookie addict and the reluctant guardian of a fussypants vampire named Lord Guy Harrick Dreppenstedt. Marnie’s more Mr. Magoo than MacGyver, is under no illusions about it and makes no apologies for it. I try to make her more heroic, I really do, but it never feels right. And every day, she manages to make me choke a little on my tongue. (Side-note: I’m wondering if there’s a measurable relationship between author’s caffeine intake and character’s use of the word “fuckspigot”. Will investigate presently.)
I’ll sit down to write a triumphant scene of her kicking evil in the gonads, and mentally I’ll tell this character: “OK, Marnie, bust that shit open and drop his ass!” But by the time I’m done the scene, she’s managed a brief, screaming trip down a hill on a stolen motorcycle and executed a textbook face-plant into a hedge. The bad guy is dead, but only because she accidentally plowed through him. She did have a fist-fight. It was with a shrub. This does not in any way resemble the mission I sent her on.
Could I backspace over it and try again? Force the character to my will? I absolutely could. Would it play out better that way? No. I don’t think so. And so, most of the time, I let Marnie Baranuik have the reigns. God help us all.
About The Book
Title: Last Impressions (The Marnie Baranuik Files #3)
Author: A.J. Aalto
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy
When an FBI Internal Affairs investigation lands the Preternatural Crimes Unit in a bureaucratic spank-fest, it feels like the perfect time for Marnie Baranuik to skip town and lend her expertise to a bear-sized Canadian cop who doesn’t want her help with his case, his love life, or his car stereo. Back in her childhood stomping grounds, Marnie leaps into action, facing an exorcist in skinny jeans, a slap-happy specter, and an old friend up to new tricks. Are ghosts behind a string of unusual deaths? Why didn’t her revenant companion, Lord Harry Dreppenstedt, tell her he had a Combat Butler? Can she survive dinner with her parents? With a shifty man of the cloth offering her soul’s redemption, and a revelation that could change the future of her love life, she has her gloved hands full. She may not make a great first impression, but no one makes a Last Impression quite like Marnie.
AJ Aalto is the author of the paranormal mystery series The Marnie Baranuik Files. Aalto is an unrepentant liar and a writer of blathering nonsense offset by factual gore. When not working on her novels, you can find her singing Monty Python songs in the shower, eavesdropping on perfect strangers, stalking her eye doctor, or failing at one of her fruitless hobbies. Generally a fan of anyone with a passion for the ridiculous, she has a weak spot for smug pseudo-intellectuals and narcissistic jerks; readers will find her work littered with flawed monsters and oodles of snark.
AJ cannot say no to a Snickers bar and has been known to swallow her gum.
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