If you could spend Happy Hour with anyone you wanted, dead or alive, who would you pick, what would you drink and where would you meet?
I was warned ahead of time that I’d be asked those questions during a live interview on Big Blend Radio. It didn’t take long to make my pick. I chose Hank Moss. Hank is the missing character from Bella, my first novel. Some quick background before we shift to the bar.
Hank and Bella had only been married a few years when he died on an Afghan battlefield. The military told Bella he was killed by the enemy; an anonymous source said it was friendly fire. Hank, a rising pro tennis player, had joined the Army after his sister was killed on 9-11. Everyone urged him not to do it. Except me.
Here’s how our talk went down over a few beers at a quiet country bar.
SP: So I’m drinking with a ghost?
Hank: You’re asking if an imagined man killed on an imaginary battlefield now drinking imaginary beer at an imagined bar in an imagined conversation is real?
SP: You’re right; forget I asked that. Was joining the Army a mistake?
Hank: They killed my sister. It felt silly pretending it was still important to hit tennis balls. I didn’t really have a choice.
SP: Seems you did. Seems you chose revenge over your wife and daughter.
Hank: Anyone ever kill someone you loved? If not, you don’t know; so don’t judge.
SP: I’m guessing you know they lied to Bella. What did you think she’d do when she found out it was one of our own soldiers?
Hank: Try to prove the truth. Nothing would stop her. She’s got a side no one knew about. Now they know.
SP: But you’re talking about routine stuff, like which movie or which sitter. This thing put her up against generals and congressmen.
Hank: Fierce is fierce. She’s smart and beautiful and dangerous when she’s angry.
SP: Are you proud of her?
Hank: I love her and what she did for me, so yeah, I’m proud.
SP: Besides being proud, what else would you tell her?
Hank: Watch close over Katie. Don’t let anything happen to her. She’s still a scared little girl. It’s going to be hard for her.
SP: Thanks, Hank; sorry this has to be so quick. I’ll pass it on.
Hank: Tell ’em I’m sorry. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. Tell ’em to remember the good times, but to move on. There’s lots of life to live, lots more stories…
Do you ever talk to your characters? Have they ever surprised you?
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