Let’s Talk with Terry Odell

Character Interview: Frankie Castor and Molly

By Terry Odell

The most important facet of any book for me, whether I’m reading or writing, is characterization. Without characters the reader loves, everything else is secondary. So, how do I find the characters for my books? I advertise, of course! Here’s how I found Frankie, the heroine of When Danger Calls.

Meet Frankie Castor … and Molly.

“Yes?” I say when my secretary calls. I have a break between appointments, and I’m trying to refine some of my yet-to-be-discovered heroine’s goals, motivations and conflicts.

“We might have a problem with the next applicant,” she says.

I consult my list. Frances Marie Castor. Four o’clock. So far, all I’ve seen are women who look like they’re applying for a job at a strip club, not an action-adventure romance heroine. True, there are a few scenes where the heroine will have to play a cocktail waitress, but that’s not what I’m looking for. “What kind of problem?”

“Her sitter can’t make it, and she can’t find anyone to take care of her daughter.”

“How old is the daughter?” I ask.

After a moment, my secretary returns to the line. “She’s almost five.”

I wonder. Would it asking too much that I might be able to cast both roles at once? “Tell her to bring her daughter along.”

Promptly at four, my secretary informs me Ms. Castor and her daughter have arrived. “Show them in,” I say. Giving a silent prayer that this will be my final interview, I flip to a clean sheet of my notepad and turn my attention to the door.

When it opens, my secretary leads the candidate in. She gives me a look that says, “Am I supposed to entertain the kid?”

I give her a quick head shake. “Please come in, Ms. Castor.” Outwardly, she’s got promise. Honey-blonde, with clear, blue eyes. Minimal makeup, and a few strands of hair escaped from her ponytail. She’s wearing khakis and a beige-and blue striped polo. Definitely not the stripper type. Girl next door all the way. My hopes lift a little higher. My gaze lowers to the child who’s hanging back, clutching a backpack to her chest like a shield. Strawberry blonde, slight. Not exactly the image I had. For tension and conflict, I was looking for someone who resembled the Hispanic youngster Ryan Harper had failed to rescue before the book started.

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