I have just spent two hours scouring my PC for references to a particular character in the Bunch Courtney Investigations series. I knew she was mentioned in Book 1 – Winter Downs, and yes she had a name check in both In Her Defence (book 2) and the third volume, Listed Dead (due out 6th August).
In my junkyard mind she is an old friend. As Wyncombe’s village post mistress and shop keeper Jean Crisp is an integral part of Wyncombe village. She knows everyone, and everyone knows her.
If asked I would have been perfectly convinced that she has been a regular bit player, walking in and out of the series as an old friend. How could I not have her on record somewhere?
In the chapter that I am writing for book 4 (In Cases of Murder) I needed Bunch Courtney to drop in at the village shop to consult the oracle that is every village shopkeeper every known. A simple scene that should have taken a morning to write.
But no! Far too easy!
In the scheme of things such a minor character should not be so very important. Except that many readers have eidetic memories and they notice when something is askew. With that in mind I thought I should really check to see how I had described my shopkeeper in the past.
I keep a pretty good record of my cast list, right down to the smallest of passing mentions. For example, I always had an inkling that Constance Frain, Granny’s gossipy chum, who gets at least one mention in every volume, would one day arrive in person. And so she does in Listed Dead.
I’d assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that Jean Crisp had likewise made her debut scene. Simple. My character database would give me all I needed to know.
Almost two hours later, after checking and rechecking and raking out Word versions of manuscripts to each book, I had to admit defeat. Beyond a single line : Jean Crisp – Wyncombe shopkeeper, nothing. Like the infamous Macavity, Mrs Jean Crisp was simply not there.
In my defence (see what I did there 🙂 ) I am certain that she had apparated during the writing of Winter Downs with a speaking part but had somehow been edited out. Relegated to a mere ‘voice from the wings’. A terrible fate for such a pleasing woman.
Book four sees her final emergence in the papery flesh. A three-D personality (despite the obvious fact that pages are flat).
Hello Mrs Crisp. Nice to meet you at last.