It’s challenging to write a character who might not be likable—an unrepentant, high-priced call girl (Hooked), a brooding, bordering-on-surly man who spent fifteen years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit (Murder Déjà Vu),
Where do these people come from?
Writers get ideas for stories all the time. It may be an organic idea or something we see or hear that triggers a story and/or a character. The hooker in Hooked—get the title?—resulted from the true story of a New York governor who got caught paying for a high-priced call girl, after, as attorney general, he broke up prostitution rings. He resigned because of it. Figuring out the kind of man who does that isn’t difficult: he thinks he’s above the law. But what kind of woman sells herself? The research was eye-opening. Actresses, students, and housewives, among others, turning tricks to make extra money is not uncommon. Some, like my character, make a lot of money. Who knew?
My idea for the blind psychologist in InSight
I always wondered what happened to the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum twenty-five years ago, so I wrote a book, Indiscretion, and solved the crime—not really, but it was fun imagining.
Unfortunately, it isn’t hard to find true stories about child abuse and abuse toward women. These are not themes that appeal to everyone, but the subject matter is important. What becomes of an abused child in adulthood? I think I created an intriguing character in Threads, maybe one of my best. Readers agreed. Can he help a woman who was a victim of abuse? What do you think?
I’m drawn to conflicted characters from real life situations, then create a “what if” circumstance. Does the hooker heroine find a better path? Does the architect ex-con get some semblance of his life-before-prison back? Do the two damaged people in Threads find a way to put their pasts behind them and survive? I try to keep the stories and characters real and believable, but sometimes there are no pat answers in fiction. That’s okay. There are no pat answers in life either.
Polly Iyer is the author of seven novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and three books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, and Backlash. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.