Walking with my characters, by Sheila Deeth

A dog came to stay.

He’s a beautiful dog, borrowed from a friend who was going to be away. And he took me on many long (frequently wet) walks.

While walking, I got to talk with all my characters from Subtraction. They’d been chatting a bit in drabs and drabs with me–a thousand words at a time, maybe, if I was lucky. But with Alfred at my side these folks got positively vocal. I wonder if it’s like that thing with teenagers in cars–silent as stones at the dining room table, but happy to answer anything when your eyes are glued to the road. So now my work-in-progress has reached nearly 40,000 words, and is growing fast. I just hope I can keep up the good work now my voluble canine’s gone home again.

Thank you Alfred for helping me find so many words (and images; I never realized Stella had red hair before this weekend!). Thank you for not driving all my neighbors insane by barking at them. And thank you, Alfred’s mom and dad, for letting me borrow him.


And here’s the product of one of our walks, where Andrew first becomes aware of Stella during a faculty meeting:


“Andrew? Mr. Callaghan? Sorry.”

Her name was Stella DeMaris and she wasn’t so young as she looked, or so shy, for all that she was the newest teacher on the faculty. Her face, finely wrinkled beneath a fine layer of make-up, leaned too close over Andrew, and he blinked owlishly.

“Sorry,” she repeated, in a low, throaty whisper. “I thought you were falling asleep. Didn’t want you dropping your coffee on the floor; not that it really deserves the name of coffee of course.” She smiled.

Andrew hadn’t noticed, but Stella’s hand was cupped around his mug in gentle protection. He smiled his thanks, coughing lightly as he tried to find his voice. Had he fallen asleep? In a faculty meeting no less?

Then Stella whispered again. “Gets awfully boring I know, but you gotta watch out. Tom had his eye on you.”


“Don’t worry. I distracted him.”

Stella’s smile looked more dazzling than shy as she stared at him now. He wondered exactly how she’d distracted Tom. Then he wondered how to extract his hand and coffee cup without causing offense. Her fingers hovered dangerously close to his knee, and he felt a deep warmth spreading toward his groin.

“Watch out for flying rumors.”


“You and me. I’m sure Tom thinks we’re an item now.”

Still, Andrew was nobody’s item, for all the warmth temptation might bring to him. He had no desire for human connection beyond the needs of the job. So he edged his chair away, rocking it sideways, and Stella laughed, her voice still low and warm.

“Don’t worry. I know we’re not. Just keeping you out of the can’t-be-trusted-to-stay-awake-in-meetings book.”

He hid another cough, thinking there were much more important things he couldn’t be trusted with. Then he heard Amy’s name.

“What shall we do with Amy?”

Andrews heart dropped to his shoes.


Andrew’s daughter was Amelia in the novel, Divide by Zero, by Sheila Deeth, published in 2014 by Second Wind Publishing. Sheila’s second novel, Infinite Sum, will some out soon, hopefully followed by Subtraction and Imaginary Numbers.


Filed under writing

4 responses to “Walking with my characters, by Sheila Deeth

  1. Ann Chandonnet

    How cool that your dog spoke to your subconscious–freeing you up to write!

  2. With three cats, you’d think one of them would help me discuss things with my characters.

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