One thing that hasn’t changed in my writing process is how I inject new minor characters, whether human or some dim, imagined part of my consciousness. (My process for major characters is substantially different and involved. I’ve written about it here, here, and here.) Being largely visual (though Maria argues that I am as auditory as I am visual) my imagination is stimulated by visual input. In my last bit of writing, I’d reached an minor impasse in how to end one scene and begin the next. As I often do, I looked through my library of collected potential character images, and picked one, this time at random. It was this woman. Lovely, is she not?
This was enough to stimulate the process. My two characters were already in a pub, and now, I had their waitress. The rest of the scene flowed and tied into my plot outline, despite “Pearl’s” not having been previously identified. I love meeting new people. 🙂
If you’re interested, here’s how Pearl’s part played out. In terms of a writing process, it’s really no different than those of you who participate in various photo challenges.
Foster Cain meets with Rob Mackleton and Pearl Evans.
It wasn’t—for me—but I found it amusing that he thought so. I looked away and suppressed a smile. It was then when a bronze-skinned beauty with cat-like features and rich chocolate eyes floated into view. She wore a crimson and pink headwrap with a loose-fitting dress to match, and carried with her a tray containing our beers and my lunch. I caught her eye from across the pub and was rewarded with a smile that made this my new favorite pub.
“Well, look who’s here,” Rob said, interrupting my mind’s imagining of the evening’s fun. “If it isn’t Pearl Evans.”
The waitress stopped just short of our table and looked at my companion for the first time, an expression crossing her face that was a sordid mating of fear, disgust, and surprise. Rob stood and reached for her before I knew what was happening. Pearl responded by shoving the tray full of my lunch at him, pushing him onto the table. From the bar, I heard the publican scream her name along with a “Are you mad? What the hell are you on about?” Pearl took off running, but not before Rob grabbed her arm. She spun, reached into her apron and lunged an arm at him. I caught it, stopping her hand, and the knife she wielded, inches short of his midsection.
“Fuck, woman! I only wanted to talk to you,” Rob said, practically falling over backward.
The publican arrived in a rush of indignation and apologies. I calmed him down with a twenty pound note for the damages and reassurances that Pearl’s actions were justified. “It’s my fault, mate,” I said. “I put my hands where they didn’t belong and startled the poor girl.” He seemed skeptical, but I’d paid for the food and drinks, and having disarmed the girl, he never saw her attempted assault. Another tenner convinced him to let her take a break with Rob and me in the adjacent alley, and I led Pearl out the back.
She pulled away as soon as we hit the street, standing across from me with her arms folded. “I suppose you’ll be calling the police now, yeah?” she asked.
“Nope.” I looked at Rob, who nodded his confirmation.
Pearl looked from him to me. “What you on about then? If you think you’ll both be having me, I don’t go in for that sort of thing.”
I raised my hands. “No one’s having anybody.”
“Certainly not,” echoed Rob. From his tone, I thought he was more horrified than offended.
She was still raging, and she wasn’t listening. “I’ll take you on, alone,” she said, looking at me. “But I don’t do threesomes, especially with a couple of fairies.”
Rob’s frown turned to a snicker; I frowned. “I’m not gay,” I said, “and I’m not looking for a date.” She looked at me with a noticeably softened demeanor.
“Pearl here used to work for Danni. She was quite popular, from everything I can glean. I’d just about convinced her to talk to me when she disappeared.”
Rob managed to spin her up again almost immediately. “You almost got me fucking killed, that’s why. Danni found out I was talking to the press, and beat the shit out of me.” She lifted up her head wrap, showing a small bald patch at the back of her head. “Look what she fucking did to me!”
“Look, Pearl, I said, “we don’t want to get you in trouble, and I can arrange for protection if you need it. All I want to know is where to find Danni.” She’d looked down and away, likely shielding herself the another disappointment. I couldn’t feel her like Dark would have, but I’d seen enough hurt to recognize its fossil residue. I lifted her chin with one finger. “I promise you can trust me. Whatever you know, it’ll help, and I’ll make sure no one hurts you again.”
She pulled away slightly, removing herself from my touch, but not my gaze. “Are you with the cops?” she asked.
“No, I hate cops,” I answered honestly. “I with myself.”
“Good.” She fixed her headwrap and then fixed me a long stare. “Why you being so nice to me?” The hopeful edges of a smile leaked from beneath her headwrap.
“I’m a nice guy.”
She smiled. “I bet you are. You should be more careful about the company you keep.” She gave Rob a pointed stare.
“Cheers,” he said.
Sixty minutes later, I’d checked out of the hotel and was on my way to the south of England, courtesy the address Pearl supplied for Danni’s summer home on the coast. Apparently the escort business was doing well. I left Pearl and Rob in the alley with barely a goodbye, after entrusting Rob with getting Pearl to Samuels to arrange for witness protection. Pearl had insisted that I take her instead of Rob, but I knew I could trust him. I had access to information he wanted. Besides, I had two things on my mind: find Dark and then find Danni.
Oh, and for the record, here’s my idea of Rob (also not my image — photographer unknown).