How I created the protagonist of Lemoncella Cocktail

As I said in my previous blog, Lemoncella Cocktail was inspired by a story I heard in the older days. A teenager had killed his father in the attempt to protect his mother. He grew up shy and averse to challenges or confrontations. Avoiding being in the spot light seemed to be his main concern. He surprised everybody when  one day he risked his life to save a drowning girl, thus becoming a celebrated hero.

In his event there was drama; it could serve as a dynamite stick to ignite the readers’ attention in a work of fiction—possibly a thriller. Once chosen the starting point, I had to build the character of the protagonist, Patrick Carter.

The young man had to be familiar with water rescue and aquatic traumatic stress—so I made him a certified lifeguard serving on the shores of Lake Huron.gazebo

Naturally he has to be physically strong, so he is tall and muscular. He has to have another job to complement his daily income, so I made him a bartender at night.

Now, his action has to provoke some problems, right? So, what is better than saving the life of a person the mob wants to eliminate? That would put him in jeopardy, in the middle of a conflict, since now the mob not only wants to kill the girl, but also the good Samaritan who has seen who had thrown her into the river. His he married? No, he’s 25-year old and very handsome, so this offers me the occasion of introducing a bit of romance. But the girl he likes belongs to a social level much higher than his. After all, Patrick does not even have a stable job!

Why the mob wanted to kill the girl in the first place? Because she is believed to have witnessed a massive weapons exchange. Now we have crime. So, I can now present the bad guys, and the lawful group that chases them. The latter is a specialized task force, comprising members of Public Safety Canada and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, working with the coastguards of both Ontario and the United States.

No good novel wins a prize or gain many readers without a constellation of characters—some nice, some bad—who interact with the main personas by importing a few of their problems. There is the son of a business man who is anxious to make quickly much more money than his father ever did in his life and in doing so he becomes an arms dealer; there is a very young woman who, not confident in the understanding of her family, tries to solve her problems by herself—and so she goes from one perilous situation to another; there is a seven-year old kid who looks for a father figure…

All these events, situations and characters have to tie in together, making the story flow without a glitch.

I hope I have done just that!

 

 

Presenting Rene Natan and her newest novel

I always wanted to be a storyteller; I loved to entertain my schoolmates with stories of my own or recount plots of books I had recently read. When I had to decide which discipline to choose at college, my family pointed out how difficult it would be to become a professional writer and support myself with the corresponding meager income. So, since being independent financially was important to me, I chose a scientific direction and soon entered the emerging field of computers; being one of the first in this discipline opened a lot of doors, giving me the possibility to teach and conduct research in an academic environment. This experience was priceless and gave me a lot of satisfaction and recognition. However…stories never ceased to bubble up in my head. Should I go back to my first passion? I decided to try my luck, took several online courses on fiction writing and dove into the field with the enthusiasm of a novice.

There were difficulties to overcome—and not of minor magnitude. First, English was not my mother language; second, scientific writing requires conciseness; one should express concepts and describe results with the least amount of words. While hiring a good editor could help in the first issue, the second was a difficulty I had to struggle with and still do after having written ten novels. I tend to focus on the essential and bank on the reader to fill in the obvious.

Enough about me…I come now to an issue that can interest readers: where do I get the inspiration for a story? Sometimes it comes from what happened in my life, sometimes from a striking event reported in the news, other times from an old story I heard from friends or relatives.

My first novel, Mountains of Dawn, for instance, got the starting point from my childhood, when my house was destroyed and my family had to move to an unfriendly place. The Jungfrau Watch dealt with the subject of terrorism when in the ’70s a group called The Red Brigades stormed all over Italy, kidnapping rich folks and shooting at everybody who stood in their way. The Blackpox Threat is a spy story where a beautiful young woman, intent to enjoy life in the peaceful surrounding of London Ontario, is drawn into an international intrigue. Fleeting Visions—a tale centered on underage prostitution—had two elements of inspiration: some information my husband and I collected when we travelled south and the Minh Dang’s story as reported by NBC.

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Lemoncella Cocktail was inspired by a tale I heard in the older days; a young man who, as a teenager had killed his father in the attempt to protect his mother, had risked his life to save a drowning girl; in his story there was drama, and it could serve as the dynamite stick to ignite the readers’ attention. Once chosen the starting point, I had to build the character of the protagonist—but this has to wait for another blog…