You can now buy the digital download of Ghost Notes the Audio Book at CDBaby.
If you've read Ghost Notes, you know who Betty is.
What you may not know is, back in 2006 when I was submitting Ghost Notes to agents, one agent liked Betty so much she wanted me to rewrite the whole of Ghost Notes from Betty's point of view.
This was both flattering (hey, she likes one of my characters) and disconcerting (there's no way in hell I'm going to rewrite the novel from Betty's point of view).
It did, however, prompt me to include Betty in Ghost Notes' follow-up, which is called Good Night to the Rock 'n' roll Era, which I'm working on now. Betty is again a major player, but like Ghost Notes she's not the point of view from which the story is told.
I liked bringing Betty into the new novel. It felt good to know that I already had this vibrant character ready to come onstage and get people's--even agents'-- attention. It was nice to think that at least that much would work even before the novel was started.
But a funny thing is happening as I revise the new novel. Compared to the rest of the characters, Betty is somehow less than completely compelling and fully-realized. She's kind of snotty and boorish, and sometimes it's unclear what she really wants. My beta readers are backing this up. They like her the least of all the characters.
So, what happened to Betty between Ghost Notes and the new novel?
Well, not only is that the question, it's also the answer.
I think I assumed Betty's character would stay the same from one book to the next. Ghost Notes is set in 1995, when Betty is 16, and she's pretty impressive for a 16-year-old, very brash and sure of herself, someone who knows exactly what she wants and goes and gets it. We like that in any fictional character.
In the new novel, it's the year 2000, and Betty is 21, and I don't think I've done enough work imagining what life must've been like for her in those intervening years, and how she might've changed.
In other words, Betty's pretty impressive for a 16-year-old, but not so much for a 21-year-old.
So, I'm setting aside some time this fall to re-imagine Betty's later adolescent years. I will start writing what life might have been like for her at 17, 18, 19, etc., and try to be as specific as I can. Getting specific can be hard, as hard as novel writing, but none of this sketching will actually make it into the book. It's written solely to give me a feel for how Betty might act in the "present day" of my new novel.
It's sad I can't write her like she's 16 anymore, because I liked her as a 16-year-old.
Maybe I should've rewritten Ghost Notes from her point of view. Maybe I still will.
(No, I won't.)
Yours in laying down the law,
Buy Ghost Notes, the novel or brand new audio book.
Buy Songs from Memory, the album
Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix, the novel