Readers of the King Harald books might remember Doris Schattenheimer, a minor character—only four very brief appearances in the first two books. But in the third book Doris, a friend of Aunt Bev’s, quite accidentally finds herself marooned with Beverly Engebretson and her nephew Andy Skyberg during a blizzard. Doris ends up playing a key supporting role, without saying a single word.
I didn’t even plan on having Doris in the book. But it became apparent that Aunt Bev needed a sidekick and her old friend Doris slipped right into the role. And like the two Darryls in the second Bob Newhart series, Doris’s fate is to be seen and not heard—though I hope laughed at in her silent but industrious way. (I discovered, to my surprise, that she had once been a champion arm wrestler.)
Last night my wife and I had dinner with a novelist friend and handed off the third King Harald mystery for its first beta read. I’ve been working on the book intensely since last summer and it’s very nice having it out the door. All I’m seeing at this point are the trees and I need someone to have a look at the forest. Have I hit my marks? If not, how might I fix the problems? Best of all, I don’t have to think about the thing for a few weeks. I’m real fond of Andy and Harald and Aunt Bev, but I’m a little sick of them right now.
I began the third and final Johnny Graphic ghost adventure last summer, but haven’t worked on it for a while. Now that King Harald is elsewhere, I am back into it. I started the Johnny story in 2006, not realizing that middle-grade fiction is one of the hardest fiction genres to sell for indie authors. My advice to would-be middle-grade indie novelists: Don’t do it, unless you’re fine with selling no books.
But the thing is, I love the Johnny books more than any of my other series. For sure, they’re the most fun to write, as I channel my inner 12-year-old. And it’s going to feel awfully good, giving Johnny and his friends a proper ending to their story. I owe it to these characters.