Sunday, October 7, 2012

Small Town Characters

Whether you live in a small town or a very large city, there’s no doubt you will run into a number of characters on any given day.  But when it comes to small towns, the same characters are seen on a regular basis.  You become accustomed to seeing them.  Some you may like.  Some you may try to avoid.  But either way, the cast of characters in any small town make up its own little quirky community and you either come to love it or, if you just can’t bring yourself to leave the community you admittedly feel tied to, you might love to hate it.
This is why I decided to make a small town the scene of my Jorja Matthews mystery series.  It may be why many mystery writers do so.  I am a small-town girl so it is easier for me to write about small-town living, but I also enjoy writing about the small-town characters.  While it is far-fetched to believe crimes happen on a regular basis in any small town, you have to take into account the fact that this is fiction.  And there are many of us who absolutely love an enjoyable story with a believable character who lets you tag along as he or she investigates a mystery.    

Case in point is my protagonist, Jorja Matthews.  She moves back to her home town where she opens a bookstore and coffee shop called Books ‘N Brew, and eventually becomes involved in a mystery or two.  There are many ways to describe Jorja:  she loves a good challenge, is reliable and determined, she is giving and it is in her nature to help others, she does not like change or conflict but will stand up against anyone who she believes is doing wrong, she is patient, loves coffee and tea, she is organized and loves to make lists, and she adores her Lab-mix named Piper, who she rescued and adopted.  As Jorja investigates a matter involving a missing mother, as well as a mystery surrounding her own family, the reader enjoys tagging along with Jorja while she attempts to solve each mystery. 
Of course, no one should be without a BFF so we move on to Taylor Bishop.  She is a barista who is strong willed and loves to argue to prove her point, she is impulsive and sometimes impatient, she enjoys playing tricks and scaring others, she loves vampire movies and hates spiders, and she has a cat named Bella (go figure).  She also dresses according to mood and would do anything for her best friend.  Taylor plays devil’s advocate with Jorja but is also very supportive of whatever Jorja decides to take on, even if she’s not able to hide her concern for her friend.

Throughout the story the reader is introduced to a spattering of characters:  
·         Jorja’s parents, Helen and Rick Matthews, are very loving, extremely caring and probably the type of parents anyone would love to have, minus a few secrets. 

·         Jorja’s nemesis, Lydia, is an old high school classmate who never forgave Jorja for the fact that a boy they both liked in high school chose Jorja over Lydia. 

·         Brad, the boy who chose Jorja but moved away their senior year, is now back in town after accepting the high school football coach position.    

·         Kathleen, also known as Kat, is a high school senior who enlists Jorja’s help to solve the mystery about why her mother ran away when Kat was only five years old. 

·         Sandra, an old high school friend of Jorja’s mother’s and Lydia’s boss, is also a complete busy-body and owns the local hair salon. 

·         Dylan, a fairly new resident in town, bakes sweet creations in his local bakery called Dylan’s Sweet Delights and delivers not only sweets but also charm.       
Other characters include Chief Douglas, the gruff, no-nonsense Chief of Police and his front desk clerk, Betsy; Jim Cooper, who is Sandra’s brother and a police officer from a neighboring town; Nurse Willows, who holds more secrets than even she realizes; Cheryl, a county records clerk who assists Jorja on a case they will soon discover is much more than meets the eye; and Ruth, Jorja’s best friend from high school, who became a missionary, moved away and then returned to town with her husband, Pastor Pete, and their baby.

Some characters will stay, others will go and there are yet a few I have not mentioned who will likely continue on into the next story.  Officer Fritz, another character introduced in my book, is one example.  I like him but haven’t quite figured out what his character is up to yet and how his role will affect the next story.  That’s the exciting part about writing, believe it or not.  I don’t know how the characters will pan out, whether or not they will stick around or exactly what they have in store for Jorja or the story. 
These are characters you will get to know when you read No Mother of Mine and many of them will continue on throughout the Jorja Matthews mystery series.  I have made every effort to make them feel, sound and appear as real as someone you might just happen to meet on any given day and I hope you enjoy meeting them and look forward to reading more about them as the series continues.




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