Hello. Nice to meet you again.

by Pari

It’s been a bumpy trip lately. My gratitude goes to so many of you who have stood on the edges of my rocky road, handing me bottles of fresh water and homemade granola bars, when my energy wanes . . . . Truth be told, I wish I was further along on this journey, more settled, but for now my solace comes from the fact that most of the potholes I’ve hit haven’t turned into sinkholes.

In fact some have been quite interesting, including various shifts in self-perception.  Several of the identities I clung to with such determination for close to two decades have become fluid, liquefying  in my still gripping hands. 

Wife to single woman
Writer-at-home to full time office employee
Mom always there to Mom always rushing somewhere

In the middle of all of this movement, one identity I abandoned has returned. For years, I was the woman who wrote Sasha Solomon. In 2008, I dropped that image cold to pursue other projects, to grow “beyond” a character and series that simply weren’t going to do much for my future career as a writer. After all, no one at the New York houses wanted Sasha. I wasn’t going to hit it big with her. Why waste the time writing her anymore?

Well . . . 

A month or so ago, when my personal turmoils made me doubt other people’s perceptions of me as a strong, intelligent and independent woman, I decided to revisit the Sasha book I’d abandoned three years ago. Rather than read any of that previous work, I simply started adding to those 100+ pages. I’ve now begun picking certain sections at random – selecting a page number – and infilling with more vivid descriptions or twisting a certainty into something more interesting. 

The book is at least 200 pages and I still have no idea where it has come from or where it might be going (though I’ve written at least one potential climax and ending). This is a very strange way to write a book, but I’m not anguishing about it at all. You see, I know that the story is going to come together eventually. I’ll print out all these pages at some point and start fashioning a cohesive whole. Since I’m a pantser by nature and writerly disposition, this is status quo – though I’m very curious to see the result of such a peripatetic approach to this particular tome.

More important than the final product this time though, is the process. 

I’m honoring the pleasure of living with Sasha’s persona in my head and heart again. I really like the woman – warts and all – because she’s just so fun and tough and full of herself. It’s not that I want to be her; I just want a friend like her right now: Someone who isn’t afraid to call things the way she sees them – even when they’re nasty or upsetting. Someone who can find humor in just about anything and has such an irreverent way of looking at the world in the first place.  Someone who is just as flawed – actually much more flawed – than I am and who is completely unapologetic about it. 

Writing Sasha feels like coming home to a place I hadn’t realized I’d missed.

 —  I thought it might be fun today to discuss this:

Who, of the many characters you’ve read, would you most like as a friend right this minute?


Writers: Have you happily rediscovered a character you thought you’d abandoned?


27 thoughts on “Hello. Nice to meet you again.

  1. Gerald So

    I'm not in the habit of imagining characters to the point I'd want to befriend them, but if I had to pick two right now, they would be Bill Cameron's Skin Kadash and S.J. Rozan's Lydia Chin. I like that Skin has seen a lot in his life yet retains a sense of humor, however dark. I also like how persistent he is. He's someone who would stick by a friend. Lydia I like because her upbringing and attitudes are similar to mine. If she were real, I think we'd enjoy hanging out.

    I recently published an ebook of three stories featuring a 1930s flyboy character I created in 1994. Originally I had only planned to reprint my existing stories, but I figured as long as the stories were out of print, I may as well revise them to my current sensibilities. As you said about Sasha, I don't know how commercially viable the character is, but I know I was meant to write him. I can't say I ever abandoned him, but not knowing where to take him after each story, I took breaks from him and wrote other stuff. It's good to be back.

    Good luck with everything, Pari.

  2. Reine

    Pari, I am glad you are writing more Sasha. I think she is an amazing character. Different. So different.

    The character I'd most like to be friends with? I'd actually have to say the entire Weasley family. I'd love to be their house guest – just hang out with them. Maybe try out a port key or two, learn how to use flew powder, go to an international quidditch match, camp out, all that stuff. I'd even chase those goblin thingits out of the garden for them and help Mr. Weasley sort his muggle-tronics, and gadgets and widgets. Like that.

  3. Pari Noskin

    Very good to hear from you. I like your reasons for wanting Skin and Lynda to be friends. And your experience with your own character is interesting to me. Do you find that any of the ones you write become so vividly read that you can almost imagine bumping into them on the street?

    Please tell us the name of your collection of stories so we can get it.

    Thank you. Last night I decided to look at the beginning of the new book to make sure Sasha's voice was consistent. It wasn't strong enough. I really enjoyed writing her tougher.

    Perhaps this is all sublimation . . . but I'm not sure it matters. The story is/will be good — and Sasha lives anew once more.

    I'm honored that you like her.

    As to the Weaselys . . . Oh, yes! And I would've loved to know Sirius and Lupin too.

  4. Gerald So

    Thanks, Pari.

    I can't imagine bumping into my characters on the street, but that may be due to how I write them. To leave something to readers' imagination, I don't give very detailed physical descriptions. They are, of course, based in part on people I know or have seen, but no character is an exact match.

    My flyboy character's name is C.J. Stone, and the ebook is called STONES. Here's more info:


    I also have an ebook of poetry called WE MIGHT HAVE if you're interested:


  5. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    It's great to hear your creative voice coming through loud and clear and strong, Pari.
    What characters would I like as friends? Doc Savage is one. I'd love to meet him and hang with his crew. Then there's Beck from John Updike's Beck series. I also wish Charles Bukowski were around – I'd love to hang with his character Hank Chinaski, who is really Charles Bukowski anyway.
    And I'd love to meet Howard Rourke, of The Fountainhead, although I would surely find him intimidating.
    And I'd like to meet Wolf Larson, from Jack London's The Sea Wolf (although I would surely find him intimidating).
    I'm sorry you're going through such a difficult stretch, girl. It hurts just hearing your journey. It might not be any great consolation, but you're growing as a writer because of it, and you know it. All my moments of growth as a writer came from facing adversity. I can point to each one of them. At least we have something to soften the blow. We're the fortunate ones.

  6. Barbie

    This post made me choke up and tear up in the crowded classroom — luckily apparently my professor is absent, still, lots of people here, so, don't make me cry!!! I get what you mean sooo much you have no idea. I have no one in my life I can count on. For a few months now, I've been working very, very hard on making some changes in my life, and it's by far the hardest, most painful thing I've ever done. And I've been having to do it alone, I have no support system, nothing. I just had two great losses (not to death, but to, well, life) of people who meant the world to me, and my heart is breaking badly and I feel so alone. I'd like to have my characters as friends, too. There's two I've written I'd like the most. Jen McNally, the eternal caretaker, with the best sense of humor, the most loyal friend anyone could have, that would never abandon me like people in real life. And Annie, a character I fell so deeply in love with it seems stupid, who knows up to a point what I have to live with, and I'd love to just talk to her. Also, she's brilliant, hilarious and all the way awesome! Sometimes I just close my eyes and lie in bed and pretend I'm talking to them, when it hurts to much to breathe and there's no one. Crazy, I know.

    Hugs, Pari, you're strong and things will get better!

  7. David Corbett

    The first character who came to mind was Scout from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Then I thought of Rooster Cogburn in TRUE GRIT. Both affected me profoundly, and continue to haunt my inner life.

    I also thought of Vince Camden in CITIZEN VINCE and Brian Remy n THE ZERO. Jess Walter writes wonderfully flawed but affecting protagonists. He also writes wounded women of incredible strength and decency. March Selios in THE ZERO, the 9/11 victim who turns up alive, and with whom Brian Remy has a misbegotten but sweet, mad, lovely romance. I fell so in love with her. And then there's Beth, a secondary character in CITIZEN VINCE, A Spokane prostitute with a broken arm who is pursuing a real estate license, which is almost certainly beyond her grasp, and yet she has come to want it so badly, "It hurts my head to think about. It's stupid how much I want this." But of course what she really wants is normalcy, a respectable life, love: Vince.

    Of my own characters, I've wanted to return to many of them, but knowing that film rights extend not just to stories but characters, I've resisted. But someday I'd love to get back to Dan Abatangelo and Shel Beaudry from THE DEVIL'S REDHEAD. They had a great love, and I'm a sucker for great love.

    And then there are people in our lives who affect us as deeply as characters. Pari, I think you're an incredibly brave woman. I admire you, I really do. You inspire me and give me hope. You have an incredible reservoir of grace despite the cauldron of change you've been tossed in to. I'm sure it doesn't feel that way on the inside sometimes, but if you were a character in the book I was reading, I'd be hungry for more pages, more scenes. More.


  8. Tammy Cravit

    Pari, I have to join the chorus of those glad you're writing Sasha again. I very much enjoyed my prior "visits" to her world, and look forward to another someday.

    It's funny you should ask about rediscovering characters, because I've been doing that myself lately. As I've mentioned elsewhere in comments, I'd shelved my current novel-in-progress when the Big Legal Battle happened, and it's been a real challenge getting back to that and de-coupling the novel from the post-traumatic memories and feelings wrapped up in the legal fight. I've been working through all that recently, and am really enjoying reconnecting with my characters. (Plus, I'm now less than 2 chapters away from a completed first draft, and am filling up my Moleskine with revision notes and ideas for other books.) in that regard, at least, life is good again.

  9. Louise Ure

    Pari, I'm so glad you've revisited Sasha. She is a charm.

    Although the organic way you're going about this new writing is totally anathema to me. You've already written a potential climax and ending? That would be enough for me right there. If I know the ending, I can't write the rest of the book.

  10. judy wirzberger

    I always thought it would be fun to live next door to Erma Bombeck…a character of a different sort. I think it would be fun to have Kinsey Milhone in the neighborhood. And to walk into the corner coffee store and sit with the Monkeewrench gang of PJ Tracy.

    I, too, have returned to a book about five women and I wish I could be with them now as they float around the lake on the patio boat solving their own life problems, as well as each other's, bumping into a nudist camp and eating roasted garlic on crunchy bread.
    Congratulations, Pari, you seem to be stepping outside yourself and looking at you and where you want to go and then plotting how to get there and most importantly, taking action. You are strong. Sometimes we just have to give ourselves a rest stop to get a second wind.

  11. Eika

    A huge number of characters came to mind, but most I realized instantly that, while I love them as a reader, as a friend they'd drive me nuts. But I did decide on one.

    Daja Kisubo. She has a very even temper, which helps; most of the characters I was thinking of were of the hair-trigger sort. But she's also loyal, brave, funny, smart, and not afraid to make mistakes. For all her flaws, she's someone I always enjoy being with, as a reader.

    Besides, she might teach me how to use a quarterstaff.


  12. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Louise….you and I write as polar opposites. If I don't know every beat from page one to the end, I can't write the book….

  13. Jenni

    Hi Pari,

    I love Sasha, and a big part of me related to her. She's inquisitive, quirky, and courageous, not to mention creative, with a unique way of solving problems. I don't care that the big New York publishers may not want her. I have to question the wisdom of their decisions for not picking up on a character like Sasha. As I read all three novels, I had a clear image of her in my mind, and I think she would be great in a t.v. series. I'm glad you're continuing to write about her.

    Characters I would love to have as friends are all a little odd or quirky. These include Sasha and Darnda. As a little girl, I always wanted a friend like Pippi Longstocking – silly, I know, but she was fearless, adventurous, loyal to her friends, and totally unique. I also secretly wished, growing up, that Miss Marple was my aunt or a family friend. The governess in The Turn of the Screw – there are still so many questions I would want to ask her about that story. I would love to know Harry Flashman, scoundrel and rogue that he is, hear his tales, and maybe even experience one of his wild adventures.

  14. Alafair Burke

    Hmmm…Harlan Coben's Win Lockwood as a certain kind of "friend," I suppose. I think of Kinsey Millhone and Tess Monaghan as good friends.

  15. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Pari

    Great post, and I'm so pleased that Sasha is talking to you again. Whenever I've gone away from Charlie Fox, coming back to her feels somehow … right.

    Characters I'd like to be friends with? Leslie Charteris's Simon Templar – The Saint, Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino, Human Target's Christopher Chance and Guerrero, JD Robb's Lt Eve Dallas and Roarke, Lee Child's Jack Reacher, Robert B Parker's Hawk and Spencer, Jack Higgins's Liam Devlin, Val McDermid's Kate Brannigan. That's just off the top of my head. I'm sure I'll think of lots more.

    Of my own characters, it's always a joy to start a new book about Charlie Fox, but some of the peripheral characters have been great fun, too. Working with her father, orthopedic surgeon Richard Foxcroft, was a blast. I loved the retired FBI agent, Walt and his wife, Harriet, who lived on the beach in Daytona in FIRST DROP, and the custom bike-builder Gleet and his mad shotgun or crossbow-weilding sister, May from ROAD KILL and THIRD STRIKE are among my favourites.

    I'm with Stephen, though – can't start writing until I know roughly what's coming at the end. It's the journey I enjoy and even if I know the destination, getting there always yields some surprises along the way.

  16. Pari Noskin

    Oh, wow. I just got home from work and found this conversation here. Thank you, everyone, for commenting.

    I love your list. Maybe I'll try to answer my own questions at some point today . . .
    And thank you for the encouraging words. I hope you're right about the writing. I really, really, do.

    Thank you. A long time ago, a writer told me that sometimes she actually interviews her characters . .. just sits down with a pad of paper and asks them questions. I wonder if you might enjoy doing that? It's a wonderful way to access our inner workings as beings.

    Scout? Yep. I'd like to spend an evening with Atticus, for that matter. The courage of that man . . .
    I haven't read either The Zero or Citizen Vince. I think I'm going to have to soon. And why does it not surprise me that you'd want to go to the two of your characters who had such a great love?

    And what you said about me . . . well . . . I'm dumbstruck.

  17. Pari Noskin

    Thank you for the words about Sasha. As to the book and the Big Legal Battle . . . what a happy moment it was to read that you're so close to finishing the WIP — after everything you've been through. Really. That brought quite a smile to me. thank you for that, too.

    Thank you . . .
    As to the writing, remember it's only a potential ending. With the way I'm writing this book, I doubt I'd be surprised if it ends up with a very different climax.

    I like the description of your characters, but what really got me was: Roasted garlic on crunchy bread. Oh, yum.
    For years I wanted to know Kinsey too.
    As to being strong, I am simply what I am . .. and trying very hard to discover what I've become.

  18. Pari Noskin

    I wonder about that too . . . which of the characters I enjoy reading who might drive me bonkers.
    Daja Kisubo? I don't know her, but she's by a writer everyone tells me I must read. Thanks for seconding that suggestion!

    Stephen, I'm amused.

    Thanks so much. Sasha and Darnda are pleased too and say that you can come anytime for a cup of coffee — or something stronger.

    I love that you wanted to befriend Pippi and that governess. Oh, yes! Imagine what the latter would have to say. Wow. Great image.

    yes indeed.

    I love your character list although I have to admit I'd be a bit intimidated by some — like Hawk — but that wouldn't prevent me from hanging out with them.

    Re: those secondary characters in addition to our protags
    I've brought some back simply because I enjoyed being with them so much.

    You know what? I'd like to be a fly on the wall in John Dortmunder's life, would love to know so many of those characters . . . but I wouldn't want them as friends.

    Ann of Green Gables, Lizzie Bennett . . . those are two I'd like to be friends with too.

  19. Reine

    Zoë and Pari, I hve to admit that ever since Spencer made clam hash for "her" I've wanted to meet him. And he loves a shrink, brave man.

  20. Pari Noskin

    Spencer was always my fav too. "She" on the other hand, wouldn't be friend material at all . . .

  21. JJ

    Pari, ever since I began to read this blog, your posts have felt like coming home to an old friend. Your posts are always warm and inviting, sort of like someone holding out welcoming arms. So YOU are the character I'd most like to sit down and chat with (meant in a good way). I think we'd have lots in common and lots to talk about. And I really look forward to reading her story when Sasha takes flight. Hang in. It may not get much easier but it for darn sure gets more interesting. Thanks for sharing you with us!

  22. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Reine

    Nope, Birmingham and London are a long way away, thank goodness. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for all my friends who live down there, though.

  23. Reine

    Thanks, Zoë. We're checking on all our friends back there. Hoping all settles down soon with no more loss.

  24. Pari Noskin

    Reine and Zoë,
    I never mind a "mini jack" when it comes to someone's safety. We were all wondering . . .
    Glad to know you're okay, Zoë, and I hope all our other friends across the pond are as well.

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