By Victoria Buck
When I was a child I had an imaginary friend named Lobby Lou. She seemed real. After a year or so I outgrew her and she stopped playing with me. But did I lose the ability to concoct a friend? I’m sure I didn’t because a transhuman lives in my head now. Or at least in my imagination. And he never stops talking.
I just finished reading the galley for book two of my trilogy about the world’s first transhuman. With less than a hundred pages to go in writing book three, I can see my relationship with Chase Sterling coming to an end in the near future. Part of me is glad-another character is talking to me now and I need to write his story. Part of me dreads the separation. Chase, and a couple of other characters who’ve taken up space in my brain in recent years, will be missed. At times I can feel myself pulling back from finishing their journey. I think I won’t be able to let go. I don’t want this to end.
Of course, finishing the book doesn’t mean I’m done. I’ll spend another year or so with my made-up friends as we muddle through editing and re-reads and galleys. It’ll be a long goodbye. But the end is coming and I’ll miss these people.
Why do I plant myself so deeply in a pretend world that I have trouble letting go of my characters? Maybe I never got over my childhood need for a companion no one else could see. But I grew up. Right? I became a believer and the Holy Spirit fills me now. He’s always there. Always present. I have real friends made of flesh and blood. My husband and I are inseparable. So why let a man like Chase take up room and time in my brain?
I know only one reason: I’m a writer. I write for readers. And they need Chase to be real. To be a friend. Someone they learn from, and root for, and embrace in the depths of their imaginations. He has to exist. At least for the three hundred or so pages of a novel. Oh, and then for two more novels. After that, readers can move on to another book. Another character.
But they won’t ever forget the transhuman who got inside their heads.
That’s why I do it. Why I put up with characters starting conversations when I’m snuggled in my bed for the night. Why I don’t object to spending the day with them instead of real people. I know the cost of letting them inside my head: I lose sleep. I’m constantly distracted. I get too attached to people who aren’t real. I also know the pay-off: A good story. A finished book. A reader who meets a friend.
And that makes it all worthwhile.
Victoria Buck’s first novel, Wake the Dead from Harbourlight Books/Pelican Book Group is available in softcover and ebook. Killswitch, the second book in the trilogy, will be released in 2016. Contact Victoria at www.authorvictoriabuck.com