Therein lies my dilemma. My first book, Tryst with Dolphins had real people with fictional names, well parts of their names were fictional. Then their personalities were a mixture of fact and fiction. The plot and the crime were fictional, but somehow real in my mind.
Then to add to my confusion I met the real life Detective Karst when I asked him to check my police protocol. Which he did, quite nicely I might add. As a fun thing to do I used his name as one of the detectives. His eyes sparkled and he chuckled when he saw it. I asked if that was okay and he could see no reason to change it.
In the sequel, Dolphins' Echo, I brought him to center stage as the lead investigator. I introduced him to my readers in a more personal way. I was writing fiction, or so I thought, until he felt uneasy that I was hitting right on with so many things he would say or do. So does that mean I was writing fact? Was it still okay?
By the third book, Death Foreshadowed, his character was gaining popularity and his fan mail began to arrive. His partner, Bill Thompson, was not spotlighted in such a favorable light. A pudgy, sloppy, balding, guy but a good cop.
Enter a new character, Jennifer Parker, to rock the boat in the third book. Jennifer is a psychic that Detective Karst's sergeant forced him to work with. The two got along famously. Many readers thought there could be a budding romance between the hunky detective and the sophisticated and extremely proper psychic.
Jennifer began to receive fan mail soon after the release of that book. And, Detective Karst began to call on her for help with particularly difficult cases when they had no leads.
As the years have moved forward and I continue to write the Elusive Clue Series, I'll find myself asking Karst how he felt when something happened or why he's questioning something when he was the one on the case and he must remind me that it didn't happen in real life it was in the book.
One time I asked if Bill was offended by my description of him and his sloppy ways. Again, he reminded me that Bill was 100% fictional. He had never met or worked with Bill Thompson except in the books.
I was jolted back to reality. Throughout the remainder of my titles I still mix real and fictional characters and they are all real to me.
My readers have fallen in love with Jennifer Parker and asked to learn more about her. I also discovered that teenagers were reading my books and loving them. So I wrote Psychic Genes as a cross-over book with teenage characters added to the story. I introduce Jennifer Parker's family and much of her family history.
Okay, so now I should have it straight in my mind who is who, the real and the fictional....not quite. I punished myself once again by using my granddaughter's friend, Shayne Hartley, as the lead character and Jennifer's niece.
So the "real" Detective Karst, the fictional, Jennifer Parker, the "real" Shayne, but her character is fictional as is her family and the crime.
Then to confuse myself even further I decided to use photographs of the family on the cover....what family? They don't exist. Well, Shayne does but the story is fictional. I found people to pose for my characters and now when I look at the cover those people are the real characters in my mind. So they are real, right?
Ask any writer who writes a series and they'll tell you their characters are real to them. But I'll bet they don't throw in real people, real names, and real places mixed in with the fictional to drive themselves crazy.
I just released Psychic Genes on kindle this past week and the print book will be out in September. I look at the cover and I remind myself it's fiction, it's all fiction. The stories and the characters are figments of my imagination.
Then on my way to a doctor's appointment last week, I happened to look over and stopped at a stop-sign, was a big black mean looking pickup with Detective Karst behind the wheel. Am I hallucinating? No. Detective Karst moved away from his high pressure job in Denver to the quiet country setting in my community. But it was the first time I just spotted him without plans to go to lunch, or a booksigning, or some other personal reason. He's now part of the community and I imagine he will continue to pop into view on occasion. But then I have to ask myself what case is he working on here and what homicide should I know about.
I'm so confused!!!!!!