The thing I find about writing a series is that new characters keep jumping up and clamoring for attention, for stories of their own. This is in no way a bad thing – that’s where the next book in the series comes from, but it can be a distraction.
When I began writing about the McShannons, the whole family came to life in my mind – Colin, the scrappy little Yorkshireman who never allowed his small size to hold him back. Sidonie, his wife, a Cajun beauty with ‘charmth’, as her daughter puts it – warm and gracious, but with plenty of independent spirit. Their twins Rochelle and Trey, Chelle with her father’s feistiness and Trey with his mother’s reserve. I’ve imagined their children – Trey has four and Chelle two. I’ve even dreamed about the deaths of Trey and his wife Beth, a few months apart, after a long and happy marriage. After Beth passes peacefully, Trey rides out to their favourite spot near the river that runs through their ranch. He falls asleep on the riverbak, and the next thing he knows, she’s there, looking like she did the day they met. His grandson finds him later, with a smile on his face.
I’ve created a family tree with birth, death and marriage dates for Colin, Sidonie and the twins, and birth dates for the grandchildren. I have no other details for them – those may come if I decide to write their stories. I can picture them as children. Rochelle has her mother Beth’s artistic talent and her father’s Cajun looks. Matthew is blond, all McShannon on the outside and all Surette on the inside, a dreamer like his father. Ethan and Abby are freckled redheads like their mother, with a healthy dose of Underhill practicality. Ethan is a horseman like Trey; he would be the one to take over the ranch, while Matthew is bound to see the world. I can see Abby marrying and living a settled life not far from her parents. As for the next generation, I can imagine one of Rochelle’s sons fighting in World War 1, perhaps in the navy (the Surettes have a sea-going streak), and meeting up with the Cochranes and O’Neills from my Halifax trilogy. So many stories, so little time.