Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Guest Post: It’s All About Character by Tess Hardwick

 Many readers ask how I get the ideas for my novels.  For me it always starts with a character.  I’m an observer of other human beings, more interested in the nuances of personalities and character traits than anything else in life. I am in constant observation and analysis mode while moving through this world, searching for hints to an individual’s true character loitering beneath their well-formed persona. 

I grew up in a small town.  What I learned early on is that people are not always what they seem: the preacher sneaking out of the bar at 2 a.m. with a woman of questionable reputation; the admired school teacher who beats his wife; the ‘it’ boy who gets an unpopular girl pregnant and lies to everyone, leaving for college as if he had no part in the wreckage left behind.  All of which was known to me, because in a small town, people talk, truths leak out to the observant kid with a bad habit of listening to adult’s conversations, noticing bruises on a woman’s arms, and befriending peers in all social groups. 

What I know now is this affinity I have for noticing everything meant that I was not merely burdened with too much knowledge of the suffering in our human condition but that I was a writer.  For it is the writer’s job to ascertain the truth hidden between the polishing and posturing of life and explore it through words and story.  I’m particularly drawn to telling stories of the voiceless, ordinary people caught in the trappings of their circumstance, rendering them powerless and invisible.  Perhaps this is from my past, hidden truths nestled in my own DNA; generations of women in my family tree, poor and disenfranchised from the best that life had to offer.

For Riversong, the lead character, Lee Tucker, came to me while I was driving the White Whale (that’s our family’s nickname for our Honda minivan) and listening to the song “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol.  Something about the lyrics and melody of that song brought her to my mind, a fair redhead, slender, a hidden fragility displayed to the outside world as cool and distant.  After she came to me, I had to know more about her.  Why was she this way?  What happened in her past that formed her?  As is my process, I then wrote a detailed character analysis and description, including everything from appearance, to her childhood, to her spiritual beliefs.  The story came then, along with several tricks of the fiction craft, like putting her into dire circumstances that forced her to make decisions she wouldn’t normally make.  Oh yes, we storytellers must always have an inciting event.

After the supporting characters are discovered and analyzed in the same way as my main character, the story writes itself.  The characters do what they do, say what they say, because they are fully imagined in my mind.  I know everything about them.  However, even so, sometimes they do things that surprise me, changing the direction of the story.  For example, I never had any intention of making so much of Riversong a love story, but my character Tommy wanted what he wanted and there was no stopping him. 

That’s when, as a writer, the real fun begins.



Author Tess Hardwick assembles a colorful cast of endearing small-town characters and takes you on a journey that will make you believe in the possibilities of life – even in the face of overwhelming adversity and unimaginable grief. Lee Tucker is the kind of woman you find yourself rooting for long after the last page is read. 

When Lee’s husband commits suicide, he leaves her pregnant and one million dollars in debt to a loan shark. Out of options, she escapes to her deceased mother’s dilapidated house located in a small Oregon town that, like her, is financially ruined, heartbroken and in desperate need of a fresh start.  Lee's resilience leads to a plan for a destination restaurant named Riversong, to new chances for passion and love, and to danger from her dead husband's debt as her business blooms.
 A surprising mix of romance, humor, friendship, intrigue and gourmet food – Riversong entertains while reminding you of life’s greatest gifts. 

Paperback price: $9.95
eBook price: $2.99
Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
ISBN-10: 1935961144
ISBN-13: 978-1935961147

  •   Available on Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback version
  • Available on BarnesandNoble.com in Nook and paperback versions
  • Riversong is available internationally – please contact us directly if you do not see it on your preferred book purchase website
  • Remember - you can always read for free on www.booktrope.com
  •  Discounts or customized editions may be available for educational and other groups based on bulk purchase. For further information please contact info@booktrope.com


Tess Hardwick is a novelist and playwright. She has a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. In 2000 she wrote her first full-length play, My Lady’s Hand which subsequently won the 2001 first place prize for new work at the Burien Theatre. This is her first novel.

Like her main character in Riversong, Tess is from a small town in Southern Oregon.  She currently lives in Snoqualmie, Washington with her husband, two small daughters and a teenage stepson.  She is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window


Publishing/Marketing Contact
Author Contact
Katherine Sears
Tess Hardwick

Tess is available for personal appearances and interviews, please contact Katherine Sears (info above) to schedule.


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