What? You are doing, thinking, being what?
That’s a fictional character for you. Never does what you think he/she will. Drives you into a plot corner and walks away chuckling. Develops an aspect you didn’t know they had. Refuses to let the chapter work until you do what he/she wants.
You’ve got to love them, the little… Oh, well, you know what I mean.
In my case, I had Brother Thomas. Yes, I knew I had to have a male sleuth to do what Prioress Eleanor could not, and vice versa. OK, so he had to be bright and good company or she would have gotten bored with him after the first two books. I most certainly knew that Prioress Eleanor was going to have a problem sleuthing with a rather handsome and clever monk despite her very sincere vocation, but I did not want them sneaking off to the herb garden for secret trysts. So how to prevent this? It was a conundrum.
The last thing I expected as a solution, while I was peacefully reading something non-medieval, was for Brother Thomas to announce that he was gay. Talk about research angst. Talk about the homophobic emails I would get. Oy, as the expression goes.
But he and I worked it out. Being gay in the 13th century was not the same experience it is today. No community of supportive folks. No understanding about what attraction to the same sex was or meant. But the 13th century did have some interesting ways of defining acceptable, a wrist-slap, or condemned behavior. And there was a greater emphasis on who did what to whom when it came to penance for acts that often had the same definition regardless of sexual partner. The research turned out to be fascinating, and the character of Brother Thomas continues to surprise and intrigue me despite the twists and turns his character puts me through.
So, yes, I get the “your books should be burned” type of remarks, but I wouldn’t trade what the character of Thomas has taught me about the human psyche for anything. And when he drives me up the wall, I just remind myself that being surprised by characters is part of the fun of being a writer.