As a reader, I love learning about the behind the scenes stuff of novels I love. Especially when it comes to characters. I want to know what is going on in the mind of an author when they create my latest fictional book obsession. I google a lot. Interviews. Pinterest boards.
I would love to pepper Martha Grimes about Melrose Plant and ask Patrick O’Brian what he was thinking with Maturin (and where Maturin came from ). I would love to ask LM Montgomery about Barney Snaith.
I am currently working on the second Herringford and Watts book A Lesson in Love and Murder wherein I introduce Benfield Citrone.
Benny came about when I was butting my head against the wall with Jasper Forth. Jasper is a long time friend of the girls and, in his mind, a prospective love interest for Merinda whom he just adores. But he wasn’t adding the spark I needed to the story and he wasn’t bringing out a zesty and challenging side of Merinda I needed him to. He’s still essential to the story and I won’t let you know how his path ends, but for the purpose of the middle book I needed something other than Jasper.
Benny also came about as a counterbalance to Ray. My Ray DeLuca ( who is the leading guy in Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder is extremely problematic in book II and doesn’t spend as much time on page as in the first, though he remains a pivotal character and plot point. I know some readers would love Ray but some wouldn’t be attracted to him. I wanted to give prospective readers options. I don’t always fall for the most obvious character in a novel and I wanted to provide different types that reflected the major differences in Jem and Merinda. Though best friends, Jem and Merinda would not be attracted to the same kind of man. I wanted to have some prospect of romance because I love writing it and it makes the mysteries more fun (and gives them an extra slant for investment) and Ray just wasn’t cutting it in this book ( he really doesn’t. *shakes head* he’s kinda clueless and I keep asking him: do you REALLY want to do that? And he’s like, “dude. You made me up. I cannot be held responsible for my poor albeit good intentioned life choices)
Benny showed up and he was a mountie. My dad is an RCMP chaplain and a long time collector of mountie memorabilia and history. It is a major part of my upbringing. Merinda calls him Benny but his full name is Benfield Citrone. Benfield is the middle name of Samuel Benfield Steele, an RCMP officer renowned for taming the Yukon without use of a firearm. Citrone is ( get this ) the surname of a client I used to work with at my day job and the name just stuck.
I liked the idea of having a man who possessed the same deductive skill as Merinda but in a slightly different way. Merinda is schooled in Sherlock Holmes and the guidebook of former Pinkerton M.C. Wheaton. Benny is a tracker. He is remarkably observant but his skills were honed in the Yukon. He is vibrant and perceptive and aware and has immediate chemistry with Merinda.
I needed to give Merinda an equal: I do some neat things with Jasper but at this point in the series she could stomp him into submission. The second book in my series thematically deals with anarchy and submission and I couldn’t have Merinda sway someone so easily. She has equal footing with Benny and part of their mutual attraction is borne of their butting heads.
Benny is in Toronto infiltrating an anarchist group in hopes of learning more about his missing cousin, Jonathan. Jonathan may well be dead but Benny won’t rest until he has tracked every last clue to his cousin’s whereabouts: dead or alive.
I am having a lot of fun with him, especially as he takes on his own characteristics. As a writer, I find I have a beginning outline and vague form and idea of a character but soon enough I’ll be tapping away and they begin to think and talk for themselves. I have had more time with Jasper, Ray, Merinda and Jem so they have been their independent fully-formed entities for a long creative while, Benny is fun to get to know.
My sister in law has a question for me any time I go out on a date and that is: Who Would Play Him in a Movie?
Benny is conventionally handsome except that he has had his nose broken in two places by a hockey puck.
I think of actor Sam Reid ( but with brown eyes instead of blue )