Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Do Our Favorite Characters Go to Heaven?

It’s a pleasure to welcome author Karelia Stetz-Waters to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about her latest release, FOR GOOD, a Digital Original from Forever Yours and a unique topic, ‘Do Our Favorite Characters Go to Heaven?’

First, here’s a brief look at FOR GOOD:

How do you choose between your life . . . and your heart?

In this too-small, dusty town, brand-new district attorney Kristen Brock knows she'll never fit in. Still, the job will look great on her résumé---if she can just keep her head down and play by the rules. Because in a town run by a self-serving, powerful family, the last thing Kristen needs is trouble . . . but one kiss from the beautiful ex-rodeo queen Marydale Rae turns her world upside down. And Marydale is definitely trouble.
Marydale didn't intend to hide her past from Kristen, but the prospect of a friend who doesn't know she spent time in prison is too tempting to pass up. Add in the passionate night they share, and Marydale never wants Kristen to know the truth. But small towns don't keep secrets, and the powerful Holten clan is determined to destroy anything and anyone who makes Marydale happy.

Please join me in welcoming Karelia as she talks about ‘Do Our Favorite Characters Go to Heaven?’ Welcome, Karelia.

Do you remember The Velveteen Rabbit? In this 1920s classic children’s book, a plush rabbit toy hopes his owner’s love will make him real. Then the little boy gets sick. The rabbit is slated to be burned to eradicate the germs but is saved at the last minute by a fairy. It’s like Toy Story…only with scarlet fever. It captures something magical about toys, how beloved toys seem to have a little bit of soul enshrined in their love-worn bodies.

And what do we do when we are too old to tote around a doll or play make-believe with our favorite plastic horse? We turn to books. We play in our minds and in our imaginations. Ask any avid reader, they’ve clutched a book to their chest for comfort. They’ve fallen asleep imagining themselves in Middle Earth or Granchester or Christmas, Colorado.

Do Our Favorite Characters Go to Heaven?
So where do our favorite characters go when we forget them? When the book goes out of print? When the author dies? I am no theologian, and I wouldn’t presume to say I know what happens behind the closed doors of my own neighborhood, let alone in heaven or in the parallel universes hinted at by the outer reaches of science. 

But I have this dream, just a fantasy really. I imagine there’s a place where our favorite books live on. Our favorite characters go on living their lives because we’ve love them into being. Like a kind of Heaven, they’re happier there. Characters who died on the pages, come back to life renewed and rejuvenated. The sad and suffering characters we love are healed. Sometimes the characters we love cross from story to story. Gandalf visits Harry Potter. Elizabeth Bennet reaches out to Anne of Green Gables.

As a romance writer, I like to give the lovers from one book cameo appearances in the next. It’s a little postcard to my readers. Remember, Laura and Tate? They’re doing really well. Did you know Tate went back to school? And their house! It’s so beautiful.

It’s hard to let characters go. As soon as one book is off to the publisher, I start writing the next one. For a week or two or a year, I may forget my past characters. But, by and by, they come back. I’ll type “Kristen” and it comes out “Helen.” I haven’t thought about Helen for years, but there she is, striding across the pages of a new work in progress, stern and lonely and demanding her place in the world.

A strange and fascinating experiment shows that a beam of electrons behaves differently depending on whether or not someone is watching. I don’t pretend to understand the physics, but I love the metaphor. Pretend, for a moment, that we could change the world with our thoughts. Pretend that we are like the fairy in The Velveteen Rabbit. Pretend that some infinitesimal trace of our characters – the ones we read, the ones we write – last forever, launched into the existence by our love.

Questions for the readers:

      How do you feel when you finish a book you really love?
      Where do you imagine your characters living after you close the cover?
      If you could have two of your favorite characters meet, who would they be?

Karelia, thanks for joining us today. You’ve definitely given us something to think about. I’d like to think the characters live on and that books never end.
Author Karelia Stetz-Waters
Karelia Stetz-Waters is an Oregon-based author and English professor who writes beautiful contemporary lesbian romances. Here’s her bio in her own words.

My wife recently dubbed my writing “so-ro,” short for romance with a social conscience. Whether I’m exploring the problems of gentrification or the evils of human trafficking, every book I write has a lesbian romance at its heart and a social issue in mind. They’re the kind of books that read like fun, lazy-Saturday page-turners and yet leave you a little bit wiser about the world.

When I’m not writing, I’m being inspired by my amazing community college students and hanging out with my lovely wife and my charming spuglette (that’s spaniel-pug). I’m a fan of noodles, dumplings, corn mazes, popular science books on neurology, and any roadside attraction that purports to have the world’s largest ball of twine. 

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Thanks for stopping by today during Karelia’s visit. Remember her questions for you - How do you feel when you finish a book you really love? Where do you imagine your characters living after you close the cover? If you could have two of your favorite characters meet, who would they be?


  1. There are books which I love so much that I finish them, turn them over and start again. And more than one book has a permanent place in my heart.

  2. If I'm lucky, they live on in sequels.

  3. I can think of several books that have lived on in my memory. Thanks for the interesting discussion, both.

  4. Thanks for the review this sounds good.


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