Characters Matter

Habitat for Human Remains has an unusual cast of characters. Unlike the previous novels Sam is visited by historical characters in his dreams. This creates some new challenges for me as the author. I step into the shoes of my characters when I try to give them life. Yet, characters based on historic people have a life of their own prior to my influence. I want them to have their own character but at the same time they are not so tethered to their world as to be unaffected by the influence of time. They are from their time and ours.

One such character is Abraham Lincoln. A man I certainly admire. Yet what would he be like in person. Surly he would be self assured, after all he was elected president. Yet, I would assume not to the point of arrogance. His language would be more formal but perhaps not completely old fashioned given his understanding of the passage of time. I tried to capture his voice as well as his appearance.

As for Lincoln’s appearance I assumed the images he would wish to maintain would be closer to his time of death. Images by Alexander Gardner (a photographer from Springfield, Illinois) and Victor David Brenner (the designer of the penny) best reflect my mental image of the 16th president. I assumed his voice was slightly higher than most people’s understanding. This opinions is based on what I have read as well as on Daniel-Day Lewis’ performance in the movie Lincoln.

Dr. Sigmund Freud was another character I tried to bring to life through a dream. If any historical character should haunt one’s dreams it should be Freud, given the time he spent with dream interpretation.  I think of Freud as perceptive but at the same time some what silly. His psycho dynamic theory (Id, Ego, Superego) may be the basis of much of modern psychology yet it nevertheless seems old fashion to me. Freud’s ideas in his time compared to modern psychology was an important comparison for the book. The novel addresses mental health issues in the courtroom and in the treatment facilities and I wanted to compare modern and old fashion ideas as they relate to mental health. This goes back to Cocaine Zombies and The Fraternity of the Soul Eater that take a critical look at psychotropic medication and pharmaceutical companies.

There are other historic characters in this book but I don’t wont to spoil them all. This is a book of fiction. Obviously the Frost House is not real and thus the characters have never been there. At the same time I believe they add a realism to the fictional brick and mortar of the home.

The Frost House is as much of a character as any other in the book. The house is born of another era but is still impacted by the passage of time. It is old fashioned but is not trapped in time like a museum. The wall scones and chandeliers are electric not gas. The house contains televisions, modern appliances and air conditioning. The house is ancient, antique, old fashioned, vintage and modern all at the same time.

I would like to formally invited my readers an opportunity to visit this old haunted house. It is the perfect place for a weekend getaway. I just hope you will not be trapped there forever.