Celebrating a Character

I was somewhat taken aback last week at my presentation at the Royal WA Historical Society. Just as I was about to speak, a member of the audience came rushing up to the podium waving a mysterious looking envelope in front of me.

On opening it I discovered, to my utter delight and bemusement, that it was a card. The card is not for you, the presenter was quick to explain, for the benefit of the audience, but would you please pass it on. 

Gin, as some of you might know, is the main character of Finding Jasper.

It is indeed her 69th birthday this month, and it would be nice if you could spare her a thought, wherever she is.  What I’d really ask you to consider is this glorious gesture of remembrance.

Only someone with a wonderfully creative mind and an eye for detail, and the most generous of natures could have come up with such a lovely and (excuse the pun) novel idea. Thank you both, Helen and Peter Edmonds, I will treasure that card forever!

One of the most rewarding things about being a writer is when a reader implies that one of my characters is in some way ‘real’ or that they know, or once knew, someone just like that character. To be believed, or have any of your characters thought of as believable, is always a great compliment, for it means that the reader has, related personally in some way to that character.

There is nothing new, of course, in celebrating the birthdays of authors, dead and alive, or the special anniversaries of their various publications, but how often do we remember or stop to celebrate the birthdays of our literary characters? Ever?

I deliberately googled to try and find out. Up popped some neat little workshop idea, something about having each character of a text write a birthday card to each of the others, but that’s just a short exercise in creative writing, nothing more.

Look at this card, chosen no doubt because of its pretty assortment of bags and tags.

As the custodian of this card, I’d like to ask: 

Have certain characters ever stayed with you as ongoing concerns? Do you ever ponder what they’ve been doing since you last left off, what age they’d be now, and what baggage they might be carrying on their unknown destinations?

Or do you think of them only within the limits of the timeframe in which they’re written?