Whoo hoo! Dani Pettrey is here! She was LifeWay’s best selling debut novelist for 2012 with her book Submerged (that’s sayin’ somethin’, don’t you think?). Her second book, Shattered, has just released and is already off to a strong start. Dani is here today to share about how she developed her characters and settings for her latest book. I always find it fascinating to learn how authors get their ideas, imagine what their characters look like, and more. Let’s see what she’s got to say!
Today I thought I’d introduce everyone to my latest release, Shattered, and give a little insight into the way I developed the story and characters. Shattered is the second book in my Alaskan Courage series. When Piper’s brother is arrested for murder, she is determined to protect him. Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he’s also sworn to find the truth. The two set off in the snowy wilds of Alaska and Canada to track down a killer, but all the while the killer is tracking them.
To immerse myself in Piper and Landon’s world, I turned to my natural learning style. I have discovered that I am an extremely visual person. As I write, I picture the scenes playing out like a movie in my head. To aid in this visual experience, I’ve found it very helpful to make story collages for each of my novels. In this day and age of technology, I can now make virtual boards to refer to as I write. For example, for my latest novel, Shattered, I created a Pinterest board for the story:
While writing, I kept an eye out for pins (pictures) that matched the backdrop I imagined for the story–images of snowy cabins, warm fireplaces, dark woods and extreme skiing. I looked for images that conveyed the atmosphere I envisioned Piper and Landon living in, and by doing so, it really helped me ‘feel’ part of their story.
I shared the Pinterest board publicly shortly before Shattered’s release, so my readers could see the world I pictured for Piper and Landon. Then I invited everyone to help contribute to the board by e-mailing me when they find images they feel fit the Shattered landscape. It’s been such fun!
I’ve also put together Character Dossiers on my website for Piper and Landon. These dossiers feature character photos, so readers can see how I picture them, plus key points about the history and personality of each character.
Although these photos help me visually present my characters, the beauty of books is that what we read is up to our imagination.
So if a reader pictures Landon differently in their mind, that’s awesome. The magic of reading is your imagination interacts with the story and you get to see it through your own eyes. It is something you can only experience with books. In movies, everything is laid out for you.
Last but not least, I expanded beyond the visual this time, adding a Story Soundtrack for Shattered on my Fun Page http://www.danipettrey.com/fun/
This playlist contains a collection of songs that are the perfect match for various scenes and events in Shattered. As I listen to these songs play, I can feel the emotions Piper and Landon are experiencing at different points throughout the story. The really cool thing is, I’ve had readers email and ask if a particular song went with a particular scene because they felt it was the right fit. I love that!
Creating these visual and auditory extras, helps immerse me in my story world. I believe they help me write more descriptively and vividly, and they bring the story and the characters more fully to life. The more I’m immersed in my stories, the more my readers will be, too.
I hope everyone will enjoy Piper and Landon’s story in Shattered, and I hope that you’ve all enjoyed getting an inside peek into how I developed their story world.
Be sure to check out a video we shot with Dani last summer!