Writing a series with the same characters appearing from book to book offers so much opportunity for character growth that I can’t resist. Nobody stays the same. Like all humans, characters grow, learn from their experiences, and evolve into a much stronger version of themselves. Take Phoebe McCabe who launched the Crime by Design series in Rogue Wave as an immature and easily lead young woman, especially vulnerable to the men in her life. Yes, part of her is me. Or, was me.
When I think back to some of the decisions I made, or failed to make, in my early days, I could bang my head against a wall. I was afraid of everything, especially what people thought of me. It was more important to be liked than it was to be smart, and often being smart guaranteed not being liked. Women were not judged by their intelligence so much as by their looks and malleability. I’d sit quietly, stamping down my opinions lest some authority figure think less of me. Silly Putty was so popular in those days. Sound familiar? Most women growing up in this society have experienced some version of this to lesser or greater degrees.
So, five books later for Phoebe and several decades later for me, and the interior landscapes of both character and author have changed. The ground has hardened, the mountains have formed, and that great stony ridge running down the length of the human continent might finally be considered a backbone. And now I love nothing better than voicing my opinion, especially if it sparks a lively debate, whereas Phoebe McCabe will risk almost everything to get in THE LAST WORD.
Getting in the last word is an indicator of a strong sense of entitlement to speak one’s truth, whether it be right or wrong, loved or despised. At the very least, it signifies that the speaker stands for something and is willing to take the fall in its defence. In Phoebe’s case, it took awhile to sort through the weight of her heart versus the burden of her moral code. One so easily overrides the other though at the nexus of those two often conflicting elements, Phoebe makes a decision which results in her taking a very deep plunge. The younger woman character couldn’t have done what she does in book five and this older author hopes she’ll never have to do anything remotely similar.
The Plunge (coming out February 16th) is a turning point for the Crime by Design series. Though it’s still on the light end of the thriller spectrum, the character of Phoebe McCabe has at last gathered some gravitas. THE PLUNGE ON AMAZON