I thought today I might introduce a couple of the characters from "The Tide Waits," and talk a little about what went into writing them.
The story is set in an unspecified historical period, but when I first met the characters, they were a bit disconnected from the real world. So I ended up with Lira, a female bartender and general problem-solver for a small fishing village. I like writing strong female characters, so I went with the woman who came into my mind: a bartender who can toss unruly drunks out on their ears, then turn around and outwit the people who would destroy the peace of her village. There's an element of fantasy in the story, not because anything magical happens, but because Lira hasn't been burned as a witch!
The story is Lira's, but I wanted to set her off against characters who were unlike her, perhaps blunted by lives spent fishing. The one who wandered into my story was Huw, who fishes alone because he's too old to go out on the boats with the others. Imagine my surprise when Huw turned out to be far more important than he looked at first!
On reflection, I should have known. Minor characters in mysteries so often are more than they appear. Huw is no exception--so I found myself having to learn his history and personality, not just handing him a body and moving on.
Huw's an old man now, but one thing we learn quickly is that he wasn't always old--and he knows the sea and land around the village and the Goblin's Head inside and out, perhaps better than anyone else.
Excerpt:The incoming tide made it a tricky scramble around the base of Goblin’s Head, but not impossible.
Like most of the villagers, Huw had been atop the sea stack many times. But this time he didn’t mount the steep, half-scrambling route up the rock. He had climbed it enough times in his youth, like all the others who had helped to carve the path, whistling at the danger to prove their manhood. More than one had died for that proof. Climbing around the base on the rocks the Goblin had shed wasn’t a whole lot safer.
Death had visited Goblin’s Head once again. Huw reached the body that sprawled on the rock, and took in the rough homespun pants and coat before lifting the man’s shoulder to look at the face. He knew the man.
Decades of gutting fish and mourning those lost at sea had hardened the old fisherman. What he saw made him regret his breakfast, but experience won and the meal stayed put.
He moved from rock to rock with deliberate speed, not haste; to injure himself here would mean death as the incoming tide swept over the rocks. On this morning, he was safe until about a half hour after the sun rose—and that sun now lit the top of the Head.
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|Rebecca M. Douglass|