Monday, March 8, 2010

Character sketch: Samantha Cate

I've decided to do something different for the next several days, both to get this blog back on topic (namely, writing a novel), and to get myself back on track (namely, writing a novel).

To that end, I've decided to publish a daily introduction, if you will, of the main cast of characters populating the pages of The Devil You Don't Know. These characters have essentially run my life for the past three years and I have fallen deeply in love with them. They've ended up far differently than I had planned back in March of 2007, and each day that I sat down to write about them, they refused to go where I wanted them to go or say what I wanted them to say.

The ungrateful little bastards wrote their own story.

But what a story it turned out to be, if I do say so myself. So I shall introduce a character a day until, well, until I'm done. I'll start with the lesser characters and move toward the two main characters.

I'll spend a few paragraphs outlining the character, then I'll pull a passage from the book that I think shows a bit of their essence. I hope you love them as much as I do.

SAMANTHA CATE: Sam is sixteen years old and a runaway from her parents' central Illinois farm. When the novel opens, she's living with her big sister Beth in Davenport, Iowa, where she attends high school and dreams of becoming a doctor someday -- like her sister.

A pretty little blonde with blue eyes, she is often described as a "ragamuffin" and "a haunted little girl" throughout the story. Sam is chased ceaselessly by the demons of her childhood, as are most of the main characters in the novel. She wants revenge, of course, but more importantly, she wants a normal life. Wants it desperately.

The Devil You Don't Know is a modern horror story that draws heavily from the Christian New Testament (or does it? Bwahaahaaha!), and Sam plays the role of a contemporary Mary Magdalene. She falls hard for Jordan Crane, the 15-year-old son of a fallen Catholic nun. While the slight difference in age poses a bit of a problem for Sam, who's wise beyond her years, the fact that Jordan's mother is convinced he's Jesus Christ poses an even bigger problem. An insurmountable problem, if you will.

She meets Jordan after coming to spend Christmas break with Michael and Kris Reed, who have served as pseudo foster parents for Sam since the tragic death of her older sister Ashley in a car accident four years earlier broke her birth family beyond repair.

At first, she's intensely jealous of Jordan's close relationship with the Reeds and, because of her horrific past, is terrified of him because he's male. Their relationship continues to deteriorate until one night, after Sam storms away from the dinner table, young Jordan comes to her room.

I've already detailed that scene earlier on this blog (you know, the one with the orgasmic touch), so I won't go there this time. But I would encourage you to go back to that post on scene strengthening and read it again here I'll wait.

Back? Okey-dokey.

After her life begins to change in ways she couldn't possibly have foreseen, Samantha finds herself immersed in forbidden love and facing the greatest danger of her life. Can she find redemption with Jordan's help? Or will she die because of her deep love for him?

Sorry. You'll have to read the book to find those answers and more. (I sound like a used car salesman!)


Sam was still awake in her bed hours after Jordan left her room.

She’d read about born-again Christians who were on fire for Jesus, but she’d never actually felt it herself. Nor had she ever known anyone who’d felt that way. In fact the very thought of it had always made her somewhat uncomfortable. But that’s exactly how she felt now—excited beyond reason and yet more serene than she’d ever felt in her life. It was as though her eyes had been opened. She knew who Jordan was. There was no disputing that. Not only did her heart know it, but her brain did as well.

She smiled and stared into space, enjoying the serenity in her heart. Ashley popped into her mind, unbidden. She remembered that hectic school day morning and the silly argument they had over whether Ash had eaten the last grapefruit for breakfast. Sam had shouted and stamped her feet, appealing to their mom for justice. Her mother had thrown her hands in the air and left the room, muttering.

“I hate you,” Sam shouted at Ash. She stormed out of the kitchen and instead of riding to school with Ash that day, she walked. She’d show her.

Twenty minutes later, while trudging along the sidewalk, she received a text message from Ash: I’m sorry, Sammi.

Whatever, she texted back. But her sister never replied. Her stunned father would come to school two hours later to tell her the reason why.

Now, still lying in her bed, she wished with all of her heart that she could take those last hateful words back.

“Oh God, Ash,” she said, her eyes closed. “I’m so sorry. I love you. Please forgive me.”

Ashley’s presence was so strong in the room that, for a moment, Sam was certain she could smell grapefruit. But, of course, that was silly.

A chair scraped in the darkness and Sam’s eyes flew open. Goose bumps bloomed on her forearms and her heart whooshed in her ears.

“Hello?” she said in a tiny voice. “Who’s there?”

The darkness was silent, but the smell of grapefruit was stronger. She was sure of it.

A floorboard creaked closer to her bed and Sam whimpered, her eyes wide with terror.

Something moved on the bed, down by her feet. She skittered away, too horrified to scream. She felt something plop down on the bed, next to her thigh. It rolled briefly and stilled.

“Jordan?” In the inky blackness, Sam turned over and felt frantically for the bedside lamp, almost knocking it off the table. After what felt like hours—her eyes squeezed shut, certain something was going to grab her—she found the switch and turned it on.

When she opened her eyes, it wasn't the grapefruit on the bed that made her gasp. No, it was her sister Ashley, standing next to it, shimmering in the lamplight.

“I’m sorry, Sammi,” Ash whispered. “You were right. I took the last grapefruit.”

Sam opened her mouth to scream.

IN REAL LIFE: I knocked off ten pages of revisions today, more than I thought I was capable of just a couple of days ago. I still hope to finally have the revisions done in a couple of weeks, at which time the manuscript goes to three beta readers for one final go through before I begin querying in earnest. If all goes according to plan, I'll be a millionaire by autumn.

Or not. Whatever.

COMING TOMORROW: The Reverend David Douglas. You're going to like this guy. Trust me. ;)


  1. She's a great character and that is a great scene you wrote! All I've read I really see this being a best-seller and then a movie adaptation. I'm glad you're getting back to work on it and keeping us updated. Can't wait to read about the good Reverend tomorrow!

  2. LOL, maybe not autumn, but surely by next winter. See you on the book tour! =)