“The Strangest of Professions”

Author Lisa Wingate writes in the acknowledgments of The Sea Keeper’s Daughter: “Writing is the strangest of professions. Here is a job in which your ask each day to listen to the voices of people who don’t exist and describe events that never were. It’s the adult version of Let’s Pretend.”

While writing the rough draft for Another Kind of Hero, a previously unknown character, Wanda Millard, woke me from a sound sleep and demanded to be put in the novel.

I hadn’t planned on a ghost. I wasn’t happy.

My oppositional sister characters, Mavis and Helen, were quarreling in plot #1 about how to protect Joy Wilcox from the assistant manager’s sexual advances at the Pick’n Pay in Forsyth, Georgia, and Helen was posed to met undercover DEA Agent Dewey Blackmon, a man in pursuit of law and order in South Georgia and my main character  in plot #2. These two plots were headed down paths I hoped would merge soon, then Wanda’s voice, clear and distinct, destroyed my plan, made me take a u-turn and start over.

I deliberately employed humor during the initial chapters of Another Kind of Hero because I needed a break from the weighty material of racism, sexism, and domestic violence in my first mystery, Well of Rage. A ghost story meant a cozy, not my intention for Another Kind of Hero, but as the first person narrator coached me, I realized she wasn’t a traditional ghost, a haunting, woo-woo ghost. She was a character, who happened to be a ghost, and her job was to keep the other characters out of harm’s way. To accomplished her mission, her journey, she needed to learn why she couldn’t move on and what skills were at her deposal. Through trail and error, she embraced a type of mental & other-plane-of-existence agility haint bootcamp. She learned to pay attention and work with what she had, not focus on her many deficiencies. She learned in death what we all hope for in life: if you hang in there, you’ll make a difference.

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