Today, I am happy to welcome author Donna Cronk as she discusses why writers let bad things happen to the characters we love. – Kim

By Donna Cronk

Donna CronkThis year, I released my first novel, Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast. And with it, I took some flack about killing my husband.

While the main character’s husband is indeed dead before the book even starts, and she didn’t murder him, some readers wondered why he had to die.

To make the plot work, a lot of bad things had to happen to Samantha, my heroine. Her children had to move away. She had to lose a job she loved. She had to have financial challenges. And yes, Roger had to go.

Only by tearing Samantha’s world down could I build it back up. It’s in our toughest hours that we often find that God is nearest to us. That, in a nutshell, is the book’s theme.

In a writing workshop I took, the inspirational author Colleen Coble challenged attendees to think of the worst thing that could happen to a character. And then do it to her! On paper, of course.

For me, killing the husband was more than drama. It was therapeutic. I’m not evil; bear with me here. When I started writing the novel at midlife, I was in the midst of a classic empty-nest pity party.

My sons were grown and with so much of my identity wrapped in being their mom, what would I do without their activities and interests on my calendar?

At age 50, I realized in a cliché kind of way that I was exactly halfway through (the hopeful version of) my lifespan. I was neither young nor old. I wanted to explore that unique place.

I had to face some fears. At some point, statistically speaking, I might become a widow. I love my husband and could not imagine. But I could write about it happening to another woman.

Writing a story about my character experiencing these things became a way to work through them, explore them in the safe environment of fingers to keyboard.

The irony of a midlife crisis – or transition, if you will – is that five years later, I’m mostly over it. I’ve adjusted. I’ve pursued some new interests. The book has meant a number of speaking engagements and surprise invites into new environments.

And now, I’m working on a sequel.

Samantha will need to go through some things. That’s how life goes. And books too.

Sweetland Front CoverDonna Cronk is a longtime Indiana journalist. She enjoys speaking to book clubs and ladies groups. For information, contact her at 317-224-7028 or e-mail newsgirl.1958 [at] gmail [dot] com. Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast is available on Amazon.