Favourite Characters

Posted on 20th October, 2023

A question I am often asked - and I imagine other authors get asked it too - is: Which of your characters is your favourite and why? That’s quite a difficult question. I couldn't pick out just one character, any more than I could pick out a single book and say it was my favourite.



In the Railway Girls books, I know Dot is hugely popular with my readers and they also feel very concerned about Colette, though I won't say more than that here because of giving away spoilers.


Personally, I have a soft spot for Mrs Cooper. She was only intended to have a brief walk-on part in book 1, but I liked her so much that I just had to keep her in the story. Losing her beloved Lizzie was the most terrible thing that could possibly have happened to her, but she carries on with quiet courage and I love the way she takes such care of her young lodgers.


I'm also very fond of Margaret. Alison has always been very interesting to write because, of all the characters, I think she is the one who has grown and developed the most as a person.


In The Poor Relation, Helen Rawley is someone I receive a lot of comments about. Spiky Helen grows on readers, the more they find out about her. I love Helen - she is a very flawed character who grows during the course of the story.


I must admit I do like writing baddy-characters. Ralph Armstong in my first published book The Deserter's Daughter and Edmund Tanner in A Respectable Woman are two great favourites of mine. A lot of readers have told me that Ralph Armstrong is one of the scariest villains they have ever come across.


Another possibly-baddy is Gran (or is 'baddy' the wrong word?) in the Railway Girls books - Mrs Foster, Joan's grandmother. Readers see her very much as the baddy until book 3, and many readers continue to dislke her even after they find out about her past. Personally, I like her because she is a complicated person. Like all of us, she is the product of what has befallen her in the past.


I particularly enjoyed writing Christmas with the Surplus Girls. Not only was it the very first Christmas book I ever wrote, but I loved Nancy and Zachary, the heroine and her hero. Unlike the other heroines in the series - Belinda, Molly and Jess - Nancy is definitely not cut out for the secretarial work she is being trained to do and I loved the way she had to rise above all the difficulties she faced in order to find her true niche in the workplace.


A character who took me very much by surprise is Cecily in The Sewing Room Girl. Like Mrs Cooper in The Railway Girls, she was only ever meant to have a walk-on part. Then I gave her a name and before I knew it, she'd become Juliet's best friend and had her own romantic sub-plot.


One thing I have realised through writing this blog is the difference between liking a character and enjoying writing a character. For example, I didn't like Edmund Tanner in A Respectable Woman in the slightest - he was a manipulative bully with a vicous streak - but I loved writing him because he was a complex person with an important part to play in the book. Likewise I loved writing Ralph Armstrong in The Deserter's Daughter. And of course The Sewing Room Girl had not one, not two, but three baddies in it.




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