By Gloria Casale
I don’t usually have a problem killing off any character – even the finely crafted ones. I’m often sure of the characters I want to dispose of when the story line is nothing more than an idea fighting for recognition in the murky darkness of my mind.
However, in my first published book, I had a character I’d developed to be strong, intelligent, and significantly concerned for the welfare of his family. In my original version, the man was promised freedom for his wife and family if he agreed to steal smallpox from the Russian laboratory at Novosibirsk (Russia) and transport the deadly toxin to Jakarta.
I developed this character carefully: the Russian scientist whose family was starving because the Russian government stopped paying their scientists, allowed the conditions in the laboratories to disintegrate, and devoted all their resources toward building up military power. Yuri was devoted to God, deeply loved his wife and children, and was a dedicated scientist.
At a scientific meeting, he met the Syrian chairman of a laboratory in the Middle East who promised and provided huge amounts of money in all the denominations the Russian and his family would need to escape from Russia. The Syrian also delivered alternate IDs and passports. The Russian scientist was also promised a laboratory where he could continue his work as a genetic engineer, and a lavish home and life-style.
Yuri steals the toxin, crosses the western border of Russia into Latvia, and flies from Germany to Jakarta. When he delivers the vials to an intermediate in Jakarta, he is stabbed and left to die in a back alley.
Originally, that was to be the last mention of this character. I didn’t plan to include him or his family as an integral part of the remaining story.
My critique group was fascinated by this character, his wife, mother-in-law, and children. Each and every person in the group voiced the opinion that I should not kill him.
Yuri was too good a character, one they all admired. He was doing the wrong thing – for all the right reasons – and had to survive.
The group wanted him to live. And all but demanded I keep him alive. They encouraged me to figure out how he would be found and what would happen to him and his family.
I was left with the chore of determining out who would save him, and why he would be saved. Then I had to add information on how his wife, mother-in-law, and children fared as they traveled west.
I faced a major re-write.
The resulting story carried the same message I wanted to convey but was enriched because of all the interactions between the characters. As a result, the story had interesting twists and turns. I loved doing the research to create all the situations the scientist and his family would eventually face.
Overcoming all the problems I invented for each member of the family, providing a believable, unique voice for each character was a challenge.
As a result, I learned a great deal, and the story became fascinating read.
About Gloria Casale
Gloria Casale Writes, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, offers mystery novels for lovers of spy thrillers. So far, she has published Bioterror: The Essential Threat. The prequel to Bioterror will be published in the next twelve months. Her second series, Counting Down, details the lives of ten women from one neighborhood. The women are disappearing one by one years later. A female serial killer is determined to kill them all. The author is also currently working on An Emergency Medicine Memoir she hopes to have the first of a two to three part series released in December 2016.
Gloria Casale earned her medical degree from the University of Kentucky, and completed advanced training in anesthesiology, preventative medicine, and public health. She received training in bioterrorism and bioterrorism response at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and is a recognized expert in the international transport of disease. Gloria served as a consultant to the Division of Transnational Threats at Sandia Laboratory.
The author has been an invited speaker to members of the US military and various ports associations on the topics of bio-weaponry and the international transport of pathogens. She currently lives in New Mexico with her tuxedo cats, Hugo and Thumbs.
Website: Gloria Casale