The name Jolene Hartley came about in a couple different ways. I wanted the character to be well-rounded, someone who showed integrity and dedication to the job. Yet I needed this character to have the everyday trials and tribulations when it came to professional and personal relationships that the we all have. I believe I answered this one time as “she needed to be tough, but also face the train wrecks we all have.” The name Hartley, originally, was Heartley. But that was just too obvious.
Her given name of Jolene is much simpler: Who doesn’t love the song Jolene by Ray LaMontagne?
There was no great reasoning behind the choice to have the main character be a female. Besides the fact that Jolene would make a horrendous name for a man. I believe in my mind that I had an idea that the character would always be a woman. As a fan of the television shows Castle and Rookie Blue, I always enjoyed the strong, yet sometimes vulnerable aspects that the main protagonists portrayed. Not that a lead male detective would not be able to hit those highs and lows. However, with Jolene taking the role, I think I was able to get more of the roller-coaster ride out of her than if, say, Jacoby Ratliff were the focal point. The physical battles Jolene sometimes finds herself in lend to the gritty shock-and-awe factor that I wanted to get out of the reader.
Unfortunately no. No one character is based off of anyone I know or have read about. There are aspects of certain characters in specific situations that take qualities of either myself or individuals I know, but I have not written a character in any of the novels that is solely based on one person.
Yes. OTLOH was written as a stand-alone novel, however, the character of Jolene Hartley I knew I wanted to pull through to other stories. The three novels that, in essence, became the Humanities Saga were not intentional. At least in the beginning. After OTLOH, so much was left unsaid with the character of James Graiser that I thought I could carry James and Jolene’s budding relationship into a second novel, as well as a possibility of an intertwining plot line. The fact that James’ past was so mysterious and open and that his parents’ brutal murders could possibly be connected to aspects within the evolving story were too much to pass up.
It’s not easy, I can tell you that much. Not only am I currently working full time in a downtown advertising agency, but I also have a young family that needs me to not stare at a computer screen for hours on end. I find time here and there throughout the days, but mainly my creative juices flow before and after work on the train, as well as weekends.
I am definitely a fan of reading, and I tend to not stick to one genre. The problem I have found myself in many times is that I get so involved in reading that my writing suffers, or vice versa. Between plot outlines or editing rounds, I tend to pick up books more often. Here are some of my all-time favorite books:
- Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest)
- Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi – The Monster of Florence
- Ron Hansen’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
- Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner
- Neal Bascomb’s Hunting Eichmann
- Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain
- Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman
- Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air