I’ve been writing Paige Whiskey and the Whiskey Witches for ten years now. She was a character I created right after some supremely hard losses in my life, and people either really like her or they don’t relate to her at all. I remember Mandie Stevens asking me if I was going to ever end this series, Whiskey Witches, and I said I didn’t think I would. I could see it lasting for a good long while. After eleven Paige Whiskey books, I think I’m finally ready to let her continue her journey without me riding shotgun the entire way through.
That left me at the challenging part of trying to create another great character. After having successfully written a super long series, I knew that I wanted to go back to a trilogy like with Devices of War. I had a lot of great fun there. I do hope to one day add more series to that world because there’s a lot of room to play there. So, I had two playgrounds I could play in: the Whiskey Witches world – the Whiskey-verse – which Shane and I have properly set up for some super amazing stories, and Dreamland, which many of you haven’t read but it’s my all-time favorite setting and I can’t wait to get back to it.
Wynonna Hunt was born out of a moment of frustration. I was having a tough day and needed to feel like someone was actually going to feel the karmic blow of their own actions, something that this particular person never feels. They’re able to push their karmic blowback onto others with extreme ease. It’s…. painfully annoying.
I sat down for what’s called freestyle writing. It’s a short sprint to just write whatever. The character I created, who came gushing out like word vomit, had the exact voice I needed to vent this level of frustration.
Location is Everything
First things first, I decided that Wynonna Hunt was going to be a karmic witch in the Whiskey Witches world. I didn’t know where she would be or what she would do, but I knew she’d be in the Whiskey-verse.
I’d just moved to Alaska and this state has been its own set of obstacles, so I put her here. Easy enough.
Personality Traits: The Heart Wound
When creating characters who are relatable, I find an aspect of my life that I can relate to and add that element to them. So, as some of you know, I lost my kids to my parents. That’s been a character issue that Paige faced and as I’ve been going through other drafts of other books, it’s been a key focus for a lot of my main characters. It’s because I use my books as therapy. I’m not gonna lie. That was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced and I’m still not over it.
But I’d also come across someone else’s story through just general conversation. When you don’t insta-judge people, you’d be surprised the stories they’ll tell you. This particular woman chose to walk away from her kid when they were both really young. The woman had been a senior in high school. Her kid had been months old. She made sure that her son was taken care of by someone loving. Her son to this day is living a great life… without her. She knew in her heart of hearts that she wouldn’t make a good mother, but she had no choice about bringing her son into the world. It hadn’t been her choice to create him, to bring him to term, but the choice was hers on how he’d be raised.
Then I looked at main stream media and how people react when they hear that I’m a failed mother and I realized that there are probably more stories like hers out there. So, I decided to tell her story.
Wynonna is unapologetic about leaving her daughter. She thought she was doing Charlie a favor by leaving her behind. Charlie was raised by Gertie, the woman who raised her – who isn’t Wynonna’s mom either.
But I’m in this ackward getting-to-know-you part of my life with my youngest daughter, Sunshine. There are a lot of big emotions, as you could probably guess, and things aren’t going great. Well, not as great as I’d like to imagine to. In my dreams, we see each other, we hug, tell each other how much we missed one another, and then things are healed over Alma’s Heartbreak Cookies.
That’s not real life. So, I then forced Wy to go back home to face her heart-wound. She still cares for Charlie. She misses Charlie more than Charlie misses Wy, that’s for sure. But I needed the space to feel out how to talk to Sunshine, or things to say versus what to hold back. I needed a good place to fail and Wy is giving me that.
Character Development: Love Life
The other fun aspect with Wynonna Hunt is that she’s pan-sexual. I didn’t choose this to be all up in your face. So, Karen, back off. She just had a boyfriend in high school whom she’s still madly in love with and she had a girlfriend when I first met her.
I had to research that kind of soul. Is she bi? The answer is… maybe, but I think she’s attracted more by the soul than the body because of her karmic abilities. So, there’s a possibility that she could be attracted to just about anyone.
She’s not sex crazed though. She just sees the attractive qualities in people and is unafraid to note them. It drives me nuts when characters are so over the top in books, when their “differences” are put in the spotlight. Like, I’ve got quirks, but I don’t focus on them. Now, my nonbinary kid does. I have to continually remind them to pull back a little and remember that at the end of the day, they’re still just trying to be a human being, but… you know, they really, really, really focus on how different they are from everyone. “I discovered I’ve got ADHD. So, it makes sense that I can’t focus!”
Okay. Great. But instead of using it as an excuse, let’s see how to turn this “weakness” into a strength.
That’s it for now. There’s more. So much more, so I hope you stick around. If you haven’t had a chance to read her first book, Slipping On Karma Peals, please do. It’s a great read. I think you’ll really enjoy it.