I love the way that characters develop a life and personality of their own. Sure we create them initially, but at that point we probably don’t fully understand their attitudes, their sense of humour or how they are likely to react in any given situation. We don’t know what they are going to do next. As I sit in front of that sheet of paper or the keyboard, these people develop motivations of their own and I am constantly surprised at what they do. I am there to keep them focussed, but take their directional journey with them.
That’s not to say that the characters have full rein, as I know in general terms what their purpose is within the story – each character is there for a reason – but I draw the stick figure and the story fleshes that person out. I enjoy getting to know them as the story progresses.
Some stories flow easier than others and The Red Heart was one of those. It helped that I had lived for many years in Alice Springs and also that this was where I learnt to fly. I knew the country from the air, I knew the characters and of course I knew the technicalities of flying.
Today, there are many women who make aviation their career but at the time in which this story was set, there were still barriers to women as pilots. The attitudes encountered by Kathy were very real. It is a real buzz for me now therefore to get onto a commercial flight, knowing that there is a woman on the flight deck.
I don’t know where Kathy is now, but perhaps she has progressed to the flight deck, still using Alice Springs as her home base, or perhaps she has settled on Mulga Downs with a brood of young jackaroos and jillaroos. What do you think she would have done?