Suspense in the Novel

“In any work that is truly creative, I believe, the writer cannot be omniscient in advance about the effects that he proposes to produce. The suspense of a novel is not only in the reader, but in the novelist, who is intensely curious about what will happen to the hero.” Mary McCarthy


Having finally completed the three volumes of the Beryl Series, suspense still hovers in my mind like a pesky gnat. Even though the hero, Megan McEller, is set free from the ethereal forces plaguing her throughout the three volumes, I’m still wondering if I should follow her into the future.

When I began writing Dancing Naked in the Rain, volume one, Megan was a complete mystery to me, but as I began piecing her together, I could see she was nothing more than a ghostly figure of myself — not just the bland figure of Theresa Cavender, but, perhaps, maybe someone more complicated, someone more daring, someone more intriguing, someone who wants to experience more in life, maybe like many of us would like to do. And, as I wrote, she unfurled onto the page all by herself. Not only that, but I loved the suspense of not planning her future (I’d tossed my outline aside).

In Stars Walking Backward, volume two, Megan was indeed my hero. She’d taken a risk in her professional life, weathered a torrid love affair, dealt with desertion, searched for a lost love, and endured the torment of the supernatural, which was no small undertaking — and, by the way, with no urging of my own.

With the completion of Voices in the Dark,  volume three, I’ve come to realize that writing provides the opportunity to create something new of myself. It doesn’t matter if the story is age old. It doesn’t matter because it’s borne from a new perspective. Mine.  How else could I become that beautiful, intelligent, somewhat crazy, and daring woman? How else could I face rejection, hardship, and daunting voices from the past?

Several readers have asked me what I have planned next for Megan. The truth is I’ve felt somewhat determined to wash my hands of her with the completion of Voices in the Dark. Yet now, a year later, I can still hear her humming in my ear. And, yes, I am intensely curious.