Abrielle the Fearsome: Crafting Characters for the Long Haul

Last month, my comedic fantasy story, “Lemonade Séance,” was released in Hysterical Realms, a new anthology from Strange Musings Press. Here’s the quick promotional blurb, which will explain the tale in pithier terms than I otherwise would:

Invoking the powers of hell is never easy, especially for an eight-year-old girl looking for revenge. Fortunately, for Abrielle, she has the perfect secret weapon to court demons from beyond: a fresh pitcher of homemade lemonade. Now if only she can keep her parents from discovering she’s messing with the dark forces again…

Lemonade Seance Abrielle

The release of “Lemonade Séance” is a bit of a hallmark for my writing career, seeing that it is the first of the Abrielle stories to make its way in the literary world. Who’s Abrielle, you might ask? She’s a pint-sized, hell-raising character I created last fall–almost by accident–and she’s since appeared in three of my stories (technically four, but I’ll explain that in a moment). Although it’s the first to be released, “Lemonade Séance” is chronologically the second Abrielle tale with the first being “Miniature Home,” a darkly funny coming-of-age, complete with thunderbirds, that will make its debut later this month on the newly revamped site and podcast for The Breakroom Stories. The third story is still out in circulation, diligently seeking a home, so I am hoping to have some announcement on that front in the coming months.

Hysterical RealmsStill, as excited as I am about Abrielle now, I never had any intention of creating a character who would make repeated appearances in my fiction. It seemed like a lot of work that could cause potential confusion among readers who were unfamiliar with previous installments. Thus, as a writer, you’re tasked with making something succeed as a standalone piece while simultaneously incorporating elements from previous stories (as well as establishing the groundwork for future tales). If that’s not daunting, especially for a writer who’s only been in the professional short story business for about a year, then nothing is.

But as characters are wont to do, Abrielle forced her way into my life, first appearing in a story I wrote last November. In that yarn, which never quite earned a title, Abrielle was only a supporting character, the niece of the protagonist. Ultimately, the untitled tale simply fell apart, lacking any sense of cohesion and miring itself in too many scenes and too many characters. As a writer, it can be a great disappointment to admit defeat, but when you know a story isn’t working, sometimes the best thing to do is retreat for the moment. Maybe some day I’ll get back to it. Or maybe I won’t. That’s part of the business, albeit one of the more disappointing parts.

However, out of that defeat came Abrielle. She’s a sprightly little thing, undaunted by supernatural forces or her alternatively neglectful and overprotective parents, which means she’s certainly not scared of being born from a story that never went anywhere. I don’t write comedy nearly as often as I’d like to, but Abrielle gives me the inspiration to do it a little more often. I can’t say that I know quite where she’ll take me, but I do know that I’m eager to go along wherever she and her atlatl-toting goblin pet take me.

So after a rocky start, it’s a real honor that Abrielle and her foray, “Lemonade Séance,” found a home in Hysterical Realms. Editor Giovanni Valentino gathered stories from some of the best genre writers out there, including Deborah Walker, Ken MacGregor and Gerri Leen who was featured on my Author Spotlight series last month. Sharing such a storied table of contents is quite an achievement for a pigtailed character who almost never existed in the first place.

Happy reading!