Thursday, December 6, 2012

Creating Dae O'Donnell

Joyce Lavene
I really created Mayor Dae O’Donnell from a composite of many people I knew. I was working at our local newspaper at the time. I attended many town meetings and elections.

The one thing that stood out for me was that small town mayors love their town. They want to see it grow and thrive. They’re interested in every aspect of it – from trash pick up to new housing and shopping.

I chose the mayor’s office in particular because I had been asked to run for mayor the year I wrote the first story. Everyone knew me in my small town outside Charlotte, North Carolina. Someone even offered to put up the money for signs and other aspects of a political race.

I knew it wasn’t for me. I don’t like long meetings and I’m a fiction writer at heart. I said no, thanks, but I was thinking all the time about Dae O’Donnell. What would she say?

Her father is Horace O’Donnell, twenty-year sheriff of the county they live in. This helped shape her life. Her grandmother, Eleanore, had Dae’s gift for finding lost things, but she died right before Dae was born.

Dae’s life was also shaped by her mother’s death. Her mother was killed when Dae was still in college after a fight they’d had about Dae’s grades at school. Her mother had been the one that had always told Dae that her gift had to be used for the good of the community. She told her that it was like a service she provided, almost the way her grandfather’s occupation was.

So Dae was born out of real-life and fantasy. Being from a family of firefighters, I understood service. I wanted more for Dae. She needed more since she also carried a psychic gift. The background of her life, set against the folklore and legends of the Outer Banks helped with that.

Dae’s gift, being a finder of lost things, has grown and changed in the first three books in the series. It changes again in the fourth book, A Haunted Dream. Lucky for her, she has the character and strength to know who she is and what she needs to do.
The mayor of Duck, North Carolina, Dae O’Donnell, is a woman with a gift for finding lost things. When her boyfriend Kevin’s ex-fiancée Ann arrives in Duck looking for a second chance, Dae suddenly finds herself facing certain heartache. And while her romantic life is in shambles, she’s even more concerned by the sudden change in her gift. After touching a medallion owned by a local named Chuck Sparks, Dae is shocked when her vision reveals his murder—and a cry for help. Dae doesn’t know what to make of the dead man’s plea to “Help her,” until she has another vision about a kidnapped girl—Chuck’s daughter, Betsy. With a child missing, the FBI steps in to take over the case. But Dae can’t ignore her visions of Betsy, or the fact that Kevin’s psychic ex-fiancé might be the only person who can help find her.

Joyce Lavene writes bestselling mystery with her husband/partner Jim. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley and Charter Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. She lives in rural North Carolina with her family, her cat, Quincy, and her rescue dog, Rudi. Visit her at, Facebook/ Twitter: @authorjlavene,

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  1. I really liked Dae from her grilling by Mitch. Now I like her even more hearing how she was created. A great character.
    W.S. Gager on Writing

  2. What a great character you've created in Dae. I loved the excerpt.

  3. Hi Patricia. Thanks for hosting me today!

  4. Dae's character sounds very well thought out and well rounded. Her character and background are complementary--she "feels" nice. Much success, Joyce.


    1. Thanks, Madeline. We enjoy writing her, and Duck!

  5. This sounds fascinating, and I like that it sounds like she's growing in each book. Thanks for sharing!
    Marja McGraw

  6. I love being able to flesh out and grow a character over a series!

  7. Small town meetings what a joyful reminder. Looking forward to seeing your character develop.