“I see dead people.”
That’s one of the scariest lines in a movie, ever. Thankfully, I don’t see dead people (although plenty of my characters do).
But as a writer, I’ve been asked numerous times if I hear voices in my head. I assume this isn’t their subtle way of telling me I’ve gone loco (kind of like having a mint, just so you can offer one to someone else in hopes it will stifle their post-lunch egg-and onion stench), but rather a genuine curiosity about how authors make their characters come alive.
Confession time: I think my characters are real people. It’s gotten so bad I discuss them in public, which, when I’m talking animatedly about a murder scene, can get a little awkward. The bail money has been set aside, just in case.
But how do they become real? It’s one part deliberation and one part magic. Each character begins as an extension of myself, whether it’s a terribly inappropriate sense of humor or a love of chocolate chip cookies. They stick with me awhile, using my voice, but at some point they cross a bridge without me. (I see it as a slippery footbridge; you know, the kind that just might have a troll lurking in its shadows).
On the other side, the magic happens: They become real. Some become appalling, others inspirational. They dance at the cliff’s edge, and at times I’d like to pull them back; it’s gritty and ugly out there. But I can’t. Once unleashed, they get demanding. They want their truth to be told. And it’s my job to tell it, as best I can.
If I do their story justice, it might just touch the dark part of a reader’s soul. If it does, that reader might start hearing their voices, too. And in that way, these characters can live on. Not as dead people, but as flesh and blood we cannot see.
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S.M. Freedman is a top-ranked Amazon author in the Mystery, Thriller and Suspense categories, and a member of the WorldWiseWriters group. She lives in Vancouver with her husband, two children and a giant orange cat.
She studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, and spent years as a private investigator and business owner.
Inspired by authors of many different genres (favorites include Sue Grafton, Diana Gabaldon, Jodi Picoult, Stephen King, Justin Cronin, Suzanne Collins and Lawrence Hill, to name a few) she eventually turned back to her first love: writing.
The Faithful, a paperback and kindle Amazon Bestseller in both the US and the UK, and a Quarter Finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, is her debut novel. She's currently working on the sequel.
S.M. Freedman's Book - The Faithful
For Agent Josh Metcalf, memories are ghosts. They are blood-soaked backpacks and the smell of strawberry Chap Stick. Josh is haunted by a little girl who went missing his first summer on the force. Decades later his search has become an obsession, and he's pinned the photos of hundreds of missing children to his wall of tears. All the children had psychic abilities. All the cases went cold -- with no witnesses, no useful tips, and no children ever recovered. Until a woman gets injured trying to stop an abduction, and Josh comes face to face with his personal ghost.
For Rowan Wilson, a meteorite hunter for NASA's Spaceguard program, memories are lies. The childhood she thought she knew has been erased, leaving a black hole in its place. New recollections are flaring to life: men dressed like priests, a ranch in the mountains, mind control, and rape. Each new memory draws her closer to one of the other missing children, Sumner Macey; and to I Fidele, the underground organization for whom kidnapping is just the beginning.
For Sumner, memories have become weapons. He's sharpened each of his with surgical precision: the ranch, the doctrine, the mind-wash, and the murders. He's eager to slice at the black sludge pumping through I Fidele's heart, desperate to cripple those who stole his childhood.
To I Fidele, non-psychics are cockroaches in need of extermination, an inferior species destroying the earth. They're ready to enforce eugenics on a global scale. If they succeed, only those faithful to their doctrine will survive. Crossing several genres, The Faithful will appeal to anyone who enjoys supernatural mysteries; high-tech, edge-of-your-seat suspense flavored with paranormal elements; thrillers involving psychics, occult and high stakes action/adventure; tied up with a depth and humor usually reserved for works of literary fiction.