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Character Building—Wait, You Mean They Aren’t Real?

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When we started writing “Wake” and its sequel, “Calm,” we began with a rough idea of two main characters. We knew general details, like their careers, general personality, socioeconomic status, education levels, family dynamics, etc., and created rough pencil sketches on the page. We each chose a character and alternated writing chapters from their points of view so Riley and Carter got equal page time. As the story took shape, Riley and Carter did as well, and as we colored in the outlines, it didn’t take long for them to solidify into images that felt so real you could touch them.

They became so real they seemed like living, breathing beings. Like people we knew. If someone quizzed us on what Riley and Carter might order at a restaurant or what they’d think about a particular news article, we could rattle it off without a second thought.

Recently, we were chatting in a Slack channel about them. We have a long-running desire to get Riley and Carter together with Jesse, one of the side characters. Jesse—who is pansexual and a huge flirt—has hinted more than once he’d be more than willing to sleep with both Carter and Riley and we were discussing how open they’d be to it.

Below is the slightly edited (for typos and clarity) exchange:

K Evan Coles: We should write Carter/Riley/Jesse. Why not? It’s not like anything is going to happen besides some sexy times. Or would Riley be weirded out?

Brigham Vaughn: I think Riley would go for it. Carter’s gonna struggle a bit.

K Evan Coles: Maybe not, other than perhaps trying not to enjoy himself overly.

Brigham Vaughn: I think they’ll both be a little leery of what it means and how it could potentially impact their relationships, but I think it’s very much doable.

K Evan Coles: Especially Jesse—it’s not like they have to worry about him being possessive or anything. He loves Carter and he’s definitely fond of Riley but he’s all about sharing himself with everyone.

Whether or not this threesome with Jesse ever makes its way into print, it’s fascinating to intuitively understand how a character would react to something. Then again, they have been known to take us by surprise.

At times, we’ve discussed our characters “going rogue” or doing something we never expected. That’s one of the most interesting parts about having characters who seem so real. They are so fleshed out that they sometimes contradict themselves like, well, real people.

It’s easy to forget that these characters are entirely our own creations. We made them up. Theoretically, we control and lead them. But the further we take them, the more solid and real they become, and the more they lead us. That’s the beauty of character building.

And if a pair of hot, tuxedo-clad men walked up to us on the sidewalk in Manhattan and introduced themselves as Carter Hamilton and Riley Porter-Wright, we probably wouldn’t be too shocked.

Carter Hamilton and Riley Porter-Wright room together as Harvard undergraduates. An immediate friendship forms, but as the years pass it deepens into something neither man understands. As attraction simmers under the surface, lines begin to blur. When they move back to Manhattan, they gradually slip into the lives their families have envisioned for them.

Both men marry, but in time Riley realizes he’s ended up in a passionless relationship like his parents’ while his career takes center stage. Although he loves his wife, Carter misses the emotional and physical connection he shared with Riley.

The weight of Riley’s feelings and his growing discontent with his life eventually push him to tell Carter the truth about how he feels. Shocked and unable to face his own feelings, Carter rejects Riley.

As each man comes to terms with the lies they’ve told themselves, each other and the people around them, they find their lives changing in ways they never imagined. They soon discover that the truths they’ve been longing to tell shake the foundations of their friendship.

Carter and Riley’s story will continue in Wake’s sequel, Calm, available in August 2017.

Reader Advisory: This book contains polyamory and infidelity, expressions of homophobia by multiple secondary characters, divorce, scenes of M/F/M intimacy, references to parental neglect, disownment, one brief scene involving a physical altercation.


About the Authors

Brigham Vaughn is starting the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga.  She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.

Published Work:

Pride Publishing (Totally Entwined Group)

Tidal Series w/ K. Evan Coles (Novels)

Wake (May 2017)

Calm (August 2017)


Social Media

Email –

Facebook –

Facebook Author Page –

Facebook Fan Group (Brigham’s Book Nerds) –

G+ –

Instagram –

Pinterest –

Twitter –


K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.

K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially

Published Work

Pride Publishing (Totally Entwined Group)
Tidal Series w/ Brigham Vaughn (Novels)
Wake (May 2017)
Calm (August 2017)
Social Media:

Blog –

Twitter –

Facebook –

Pinterest –

Instagram –

1 Comment
  1. Amy Casey says

    I loved this!!! Awesome blog!!! Can’t wait to read this book and the sequel!!!

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