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Stephany Tullis

Small town charm, larger than life characters


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July 18, 2019

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How and Why Do Writers Develop Characters Who Demonstrate Kindness?

March 25, 2019

Last week, guest author and friend Amalie Jahn shared that she takes inspiration for her novels from the collective experiences which draw people together pointing out that: "One of life’s greatest truths is that we are all much more alike than we are different, and what most of us are looking for more than anything else is acceptance."


Because of my current exploration of the concept of kindness and its impact on our interpersonal relationships, I thought it would be fun to explore how some of my favorite authors create their characters and, if, how and 'why' the 'kindness factor' comes into play when they develop a character.



This week author and friend Traci Wooden-Carlise agreed to share some of the kindness traits and qualities of one of her favorite characters, Dr. Shauna Nathan, a main character in her book, Missing Destiny (A Chandler County Novel). When asked, Traci acknowledged that Dr. Nathan is the 'kindest' character she's created and agreed to answer the following questions.


Traci Wooden-Carlisle began writing to publish in 2011 and enjoys writing stories that provoke thought and evoke emotions that draw readers into the lives of her characters. The messages in her books speak to her way before they speak to her readers. Traci lives in San Diego with her husband, David.



1. What personality traits does Dr. Nathan possess that make her meet the definition of 'kindness'?


Dr. Shauna Nathan is gracious almost to a fault. She goes out of her way to make the people in her life happy. Unfortunately, sometimes it infringes upon her happiness. Shauna is a listener, she likes peace and wants the same for those around her. She is also fiercely loyal and on occasion has held a grudge against the person who wronged someone she loves. In the case of Missing Destiny she feels her mother has done her father wrong so it has put a strain on their relationship.


2. Did you purposely set out to create a 'kind' character or did Dr. Nathan's 'kindness' personality traits evolve along with your story?


My main goal was to show Shauna as an extremely intelligent woman in the lab and even around horses but very sheltered. I wanted her to be kind from the beginning despite how her siblings chose to live their lives. Her kindness also evolved to counteract her father’s far-reaching hand.


3. Please introduce Dr. Nathan and share why you selected her as the kindest of all your characters?


Within my Chandler County world, Dr. Shauna Nathan is definitely the kindest due to her ability to let go of certain past experiences. Shauna knew her father wanted her to have the best, be the best and be surrounded by the best only their ideas of ‘best’ were different. Shauna has always loved horses. The first time she rode a horse her life changed for the better. She would have made that her life’s pursuit if it wasn’t clear that her father considered it a hobby and not the career for her. She chose biochemical engineering because she was good at it, liked the challenge, and it was close to her father’s field of work, but after five years of company bureaucracy she’s burnt out. She wants a change but doesn’t want her father to think that she’s throwing away all of the hard work they’ve both done to help her succeed. She has good friends who adore her and she seems to be the calming agent in all of her relationships except, of course the one with Zach, her equine therapist, but that’s only because he hasn’t gotten to know her.


4. Provide just one example of Dr. Nathan's kindness and share how it influenced your story.


Shauna is innately kind. She doesn’t think anything of helping out a few children whose ball goes over a fence and into the street she’s momentarily parked on. She figures anyone with a few extra minutes would help return a stray ball, but maybe not while their bodyguard is in the deli buying their lunch and they have a stalker after them. What happened next was enough to galvanize her father into planning a secret getaway for her in the middle of Chandler County.


 Please enjoy this short Excerpt

Missing Destiny 


"The flight of the ball sailing over the fence caught her attention. She watched as the children ran to the fence, their faces falling more with each bounce of the ball as it made its way across the street. She judged the distance of the ball from the car she was sitting in then glanced at the deli, hoping to see Michael exiting. After waiting a couple of moments, she figured exiting the car for a few seconds at the most to retrieve a ball for some little kids who looked like they were about to cry, couldn’t be too dangerous. She looked up and down the street with enough thoroughness to make even Michael proud, before she opened the door and walked swiftly toward the ball now resting against the curb. She picked it up and turned back toward the children at the fence. She could throw the ball with a thirty/seventy probability of getting it into their yard, or she could run it over to them. “Thank you, lady,” yelled the oldest-looking boy of the group. She smiled at him as she walked back across the street, right before she spotted the man standing to the right of a huge oak tree trunk a few doors down. She stopped, frozen. All thoughts of the ball in her hand fled her mind. He was there. How did he know she was here? How did he keep finding her? “Hey lady, watch out.” She heard the little boy’s warning, assuming he was talking about the man as well. Too late, kid. Her heart rate jumped up and she broke out in a cold sweat. She was paralyzed with fear. The man hadn’t moved, but he didn’t have to in order to evoke any more fear than he already had. She couldn’t make out his expression behind his mirrored, aviator sunglasses, but she could imagine the malice and hatred. Why else would he stalk her? “Shauna!” She heard her name, but had a hard time pulling her eyes away from the man to search for the direction the shout came from. The next few seconds slowed to a crawl as she finally turned her head to see Michael run toward her. Maybe he saw the guy too and was coming to protect her. She heard a screeching and turned to see a car barreling down the street, right toward her. She made a move to run, but her body seemed to lock up. The next thing she knew, an arm moving at incredible speed wrapped around her waist and swept her up and off her feet with its momentum. She floated in the air, feeling as though gravity had fallen away one second, only to be jarred against something mostly hard the next, pushing all the air out of her lungs.




KINDNESS HINT: Sometimes, it's the little things that make the difference. In my opinion, Dr. Nathan seems to have mastered this quality. Do you agree? Have you ever been kind when you didn't want to be? I'd love for you to share your experience. See you next week!



Try it! Take your thoughts off self...and remember, 

"You cannot be human in isolation but only when united with other people." ~Amalie Jahn 




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