Characters; More than just what’s on the pages

Before I start writing a new story, I like to draft character biographies and explore my characters’ backgrounds and what motivates them. Knowing what’s happened prior to the story starting helps me to hit the ground running and enables me to get inside the character’s mind. The main protagonist in The Summer Theatre by the Sea is Charlotte Saunders.

Charlotte has always craved the ‘perfect’ life. She had a happy, uneventful childhood, with a kind doting mother, relaxed chilled father, and chummy younger sister. She worked hard at school, had a few close friends, but wasn’t a big socialiser. She started to come out of her shell at university, but retreated after the death of her mother. Her father sank into a deep depression, and it was left to Charlotte to parent her sixteen-year-old sister. Determined to provide for her family, she threw herself into her studies and focused on achieving her dream career of becoming an interior designer.

After leaving university, she was head-hunted by a big London firm and offered a position most designers twice her age would kill for. But spending long hours trying to impress in a tough competitive industry, meant she lost touch with her friends and rarely saw her family. When her dad and sister announced they were moving to Cornwall to enjoy a more relaxed and idyllic lifestyle by the sea, Charlotte was confused. She couldn’t understand why they felt the need to ‘step off the treadmill’. London was the ‘perfect’ place to be. And after all she’d done for her family, all the sacrifices she’d made, she couldn’t fathom why they were upping sticks and leaving her behind.

A wounded Charlotte throws herself into her career, but when a client makes a formal complaint following a botched job, she’s made the scapegoat, and the firm dismisses her. Devastated, she seeks solace in her boyfriend, hoping for an ally in taking legal action against her employer. She’s dated Ethan for four years, and when she moved into his converted loft apartment in Kingston, she spent a considerable amount of money, time, and energy redesigning the ‘perfect’ home for them. Far from supporting her claim for unfair dismissal, Ethan suggests they call a halt on their relationship. The Paris office are recruiting, so he’s selling up and moving to France. In the space of twenty-four hours, Charlotte finds herself jobless, homeless and boyfriend-less. With no friends to call on for help, she has to reach out to her family. But when Charlotte arrives in the idyllic town of Penmullion in Cornwall she discovers her dad and sister’s life is anything but ‘perfect’.

Forced to spend the summer in the quiet coastal town, Charlotte agrees to help the local drama group design the set for their upcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while she figures out her next career move. But could days at the beach, new friends and a dashingly handsome doctor, change Charlotte’s mind? Suddenly Cornwall doesn’t look so boring after all. . .