How Calyce Tate Found Me
“How did you come up with Calyce Tate?” people ask me about the protagonist in my new novel, Alternate Endings. “Is she someone you know?”
The answer is that Calyce came to me at a pubic library near my home, where I was sitting alone at a small table one day. I looked up and there was, standing next to me, her left hip to my right shoulder. Then, when she knew she had my attention, she crossed her arms tightly, bringing them high on her chest, and made big eyes at me, staring down. You know those eyes, the ones that mothers make to rebellious children.
I couldn’t see her foot or hear it but I knew it was tapping. Calyce was waiting for me to begin, and she had run out of patience.
She arrived full-blown. Corporeal, yet out of my imagination, breathing and opinionating silently, waiting for me to give her voice and timbre and words. Calyce was so complete that her story had already been lived. All I had to do was write it down.
I’ve heard about this happening to other novelists, where characters appear not as newborn ideas but as adults in flesh and bone. I’ve thought these anecdotes were made up, but when Calyce Tate appeared to me for the first time, she was as real as my next door neighbor. I also knew, without her telling me, that her name was pronounced Cal-lisse, like Alice with a hard C. That’s how entire she already was.
The third installment of Alternate Endings is posted now, here. I can’t wait to hear more of your comments.