I have to say that writing the characters of Irishmen Ryan O’Clery in The Tempest Murders and Dylan Maguire in the Black Swamp Mysteries series have been the most enjoyable experiences of my writing career.
I knew when I was writing Vicki’s Key, the first book to feature Dylan Maguire, that I needed a man Vicki would fall for quickly—and intensely. I researched what women like best by going to online surveys conducted by national women’s magazines. I found that the most loved accents in the world are Scottish, followed by Irish and then by Australians.
I considered making Dylan (who at that point was unnamed) Scottish, but decided I liked the smoother Irish brogue and their reputation for good humor. I immersed myself in the Irish accent; much of it found on YouTube videos. Because most of those videos were home movies, it allowed me to understand the common Irish language versus the Hollywood version.
I also discovered there is a big difference in Irish in the west, in rural regions, and in large cities. So when I began writing The Tempest Murders, which takes place partially near Dublin, I would have to write with a more educated Irish vocabulary than Dylan’s rural upbringing in my previous books.
My family’s heritage is Irish and in delving into the Irish culture and physical characteristics, there was never any doubt that both Ryan and Dylan would have black hair. Ryan’s eyes are very green (like my father’s) and Dylan’s is hazel (like my mother’s).
Height is often a factor in attractiveness, so both men are tall. And of course, they’re muscular and fit.
Personality is often driven by the plot itself. Because it was important for Vicki to fall in love with Dylan in Vicki’s Key, he needed to be good-humored and good-natured. But when I wrote The Tempest Murders, it begins with a man who feels like he’s lost himself—or perhaps never found himself—so Ryan is more brooding and introverted in the beginning, but finds himself when he falls in love with Cathleen Reilly, becoming capable of deep passion and love.
When I am writing, it is important that these characters be as real to me as flesh-and-blood; they must be multi-dimensional and multi-faceted for the reader to be able to feel them, view them and sense them as vividly as I do.
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