Paula remembers the night a character created himself.
Late one night (because that’s when I usually write!), I was
up to Chapter 3 of my story set in Egypt. Ross had invited Neve to visit one
of the Pharaohs’ tombs in the Valley of the Kings. I needed to get them across
the Nile to the West Bank from where the cruise ships are moored at Luxor, and thought they
would simply catch one of the motorboats that go back and forth across the
river, and off they’d go into the Valley.
Instead, I wrote this:
At the end of the
gangplank, Ross turned and held out his hand to help her onto the uneven stone
steps. His touch sent delicious thrills to her nerve-endings. Part of her
wished she could leave her hand within his firm grasp. Instead, self-consciously,
she withdrew it when they reached the quayside path.
“How are we getting
across to the West Bank?”
“I always use the same
private motorboat. Elvis should be moored along here.”
“Elvis? Is that the
name of the boat?”
Ross laughed. “No, the
boat owner. His real name’s Wasim, but he sings Elvis songs all the time—and I
do mean all the time.”
When they reached the
white motorboat with its green awning, Neve grinned at the name on the bow:
Ross shook hands with
a slim Egyptian whose dark hair was gelled into Elvis’s unmistakable quiff. “So
what are you going to sing for Neve this afternoon, Elvis?”
The young man
considered for a moment. “I think I have good song for Miss Neve.”
He helped her onto the
small boat, and she sat on the cushioned bench at one side, facing Ross. Wasim gunned
the engine into life and turned the motorboat towards the West Bank. Then he
started to sing Elvis’s “Teddy Bear”.
She smiled at Ross.
“I’ve never been serenaded on a Nile crossing before.”
He grinned back. “There’s
a first time for everything.”
Her heart raced and
she drew in a deep breath to steady herself. Just because he
had a captivating smile was no reason for her to react like some love-struck
teenager. She had to control her unwanted response to his male attractiveness
before she made a complete fool of herself.
When Wasim finished
the song, she applauded. “That was great. You really do sound like Elvis.”
Ross chuckled. “Oh, now
he’s your friend for life.”
Wasim brought the boat
parallel to the stone quay on the West Bank. “Shukran, Miss Neve. I try to get
job at hotel as Elvis singer but no one want me.” He turned to Ross. “What time
for return, Mister Ross?”
“Five o’clock, Elvis,
no later. Neve’s ship sails at six.”
“I be here.”
I think it was at this point that I stopped and blinked, and
actually said out loud, “Where on earth has he
come from?” I had no intention of creating a Nile boatman who sang Elvis songs,
but there he was! He kept popping up in the story as a minor character, and in
the end, I liked him so much, I decided to give him a larger role in solving
the mystery that formed the main sub-plot – or maybe he’d already decided that,
and was simply waiting for me to find out his later role in the story!
Have you had any characters 'appearing' that you didn't expect? And did they demand a larger role in your story?