iUniverse author Patricia A. Gray creating great characters

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In her first guest blog for iUniverse, Patricia A. Gray described how she has developed as a self-published author and now in this second post, she takes us through how she identifies and develops her characters within the storylines of her novels.

Charles Dickens

The king of characterization Charles Dickens

Special Characters

“To create flawed characters in everyday situations that we often don’t notice is one of my specialties.  For example, my latest novel, “Ash Man,”takes place in an old crematorium in downtown Riverside, California.  I pass this cemetery every day during the week.  And when I see the smoke coming out of the little, old

iUniverse Ash Man

Latest novel from iUniverse author Patricia A. Gray

building I wonder.  What a strange and fascinating job; so where can we take that?  Perhaps the cremator has been there for years and years…maybe he started as a teenager and it’s the only job he’s ever known.  When I go to and from work I see some of the homeless community and I wonder what has put them there and what has living on the streets done to their view of life?  When they have no walls to live between and they constantly check their backs, how do they trust?  What if my cremator was a former homeless kid who ran away from an abusive foster care situation and has grown up trusting no other living soul?  And just to make it interesting, maybe all that time around the ovens has allowed him his share of interactions with the souls of people he’s cremated.  That part scares him yet doesn’t keep him from doing what he can to help those that have been wronged in their previous lives.  How about if the cremator has a record of murder that no one else knows about?  A very nice man, he is.  But driven to do wrong, he will.  That is Raymond Faustanetti:  protagonist of “Ash Man”, and an unlikely hero to the dead.”

Archetypal Dickens dark villain Bill Sykes

Reminiscent of Dickens

 “I so enjoy writing and only wish I could make it a full-time endeavor.  Yet, I think:  if I didn’t get out and go to the job that pays the bills, I’d miss out on all that contact with potential characters and landmarks in my community that might seem innocent enough but could be trouble in the right hands.  This is all inspiration, for it is the everyday Joe or Jane who gets up, goes to work where nothing spectacular happens, comes home and lives to do it again and again:  that is my typical character—the one that keeps it going even when the going isn’t real exciting.

My job as a writer is to make these people worthy of a good read…to get inside their heads and make them come to life.  Great characters are alive everywhere we go.  We just need to get to know them.”

Future Plans

iUniverse publishing thinks Patricia’s blog posts have been great in that they really gave insight into an author’s psyche, especially in the contexts of writing inspiration and characterization. So as she mentioned she is completing her seventh novel and we wish her well with that and all her future writing.


The Loner, November 2007
Scarred, June, 2008
Ridder of Vermin, February 2009
Binding Ties, December, 2009
The Fugitive Blues, October 2010
Ash Man, April 2012
All self-published with iUniverse publishing.

To learn more about Patricia and her books, visit her website at www.darkgraytales.com

iUniverse The Loner
iUniverse Scarred
iUniverse Ridder of Vermin
iUniverse Binding Ties
iUniverse The Fugitive Blues


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