Avril Field-Taylor wrote recently, “It’s a long time since I cried at the death of a character, but I did at Thoresby’s death in Vigil of Spies.”
In the Author’s Note of Vigil I mentioned the little tricks I used to cheer myself up while writing the book in which one of my favorite characters was dying–a houseful of interesting characters, the country house mystery plot. Even so, when it came time to write the ending scene, I stalled. In fact Joyce, my first reader, called me after reading the full draft to ask where the end was. I assured her she had the entire ms. She assured me that my readers would feel cheated if they were not present at the deathbed for which they’d been prepared throughout the book. I suggested that everyone would be happier if Thoresby died in between books. She sighed.
Another good friend suggested that I meditate on what Archbishop Thoresby meant to me, what significance he’d taken on during my years with him, and then use a ritual to thank him and allow him to pass away.
I realized he’d taken on bits and pieces of many wonderful people in my life, that I’d enjoyed how he sparred with Owen, and that I’d appreciated how accessible he was as a character. I always knew precisely how he’d react, what he’d say, always got him on the first draft, even in the very first scene in which he appeared. I performed my little ritual, thanking him for all this, and assuring him that he would remain in my heart.
Still, I found it an incredibly painful scene to write. I cried all the while.
I still miss him.