Character Interviews Can Help Establish Your Protagonist’s Backstory

Authors often carefully map out backstories of their characters in order to know them so well that any inconsistency in the character arc is very obvious. One method of getting to know your characters is the Character Interview. Today author Ellen Parker shows us a sample.


Character Interview with Dave Holmes.

Today your St. Louis roving reporter is at Grand Avenue Hospital. In keeping with our series of interviews with young professionals, we’re sharing a cup of coffee with Dr. David Holmes. I’d like to begin by offering my congratulations on your surgical position.

D.H. Thank you.

R.R. Could you share with our readers when and how you first became interested in medicine?

D.H. During junior high we were assigned a project which included interviewing a person in our dream occupation and touring their workplace. I thought I’d keep it simple and interviewed my aunt. She discussed her college training and gave me an in-depth tour of the hospital lab where she worked. I walked away from the hospital and her co-workers knowing I wanted medicine. The details, such as physician vs. one of the ancillary fields, solidified during high school.

R.R. Could you describe the educational route you took to your current position?

D.H. My undergraduate degree is from the University of Missouri in Columbia. I returned to St. Louis for medical school and was fortunate to do all my interning and surgical residency programs right here at Grand Avenue Hospital.

R.R. Did you have any detours or side trips during these long years?

D.H. I was determined to avoid detours. However, medical school can be expensive. I did receive several grants and scholarships. One of the scholarships required nine months at a medical mission of the sponsor. I’m happy to report that I’ve recently returned from Guatemala.

R.R. That’s a significant side trip. Do you plan to make further contributions of this sort?

D.H. No current plans. Perhaps in a few years I’ll participate again.

R.R. Describe some of your off duty interests and hobbies for our readers. Where would we be likely to see you on your day off?

D.H. You’ll find me in my kitchen. I enjoy baking traditional desserts and adding new flavors to classic main dishes. I also try to get in a run when possible or play some basketball with friends.

R.R. What do you see yourself doing in five years?

D.H. Five years from now I’d like to be training future surgeons. My surgical mentor and I have floated a few collaborative ideas and I’d like to think that at least one of them works out.

R.R. Thank you, Dr. Holmes. We wish you well in both your career and personal life.


Stare Down, picks up Dr. Holmes and his story a few days after this interview.




Stare Down Blurb:

StareDown_w9862_750Tucking a weapon into a holster is part of getting dressed for Detective Maylee Morgan of the St. Louis Police. Her new assignment is the case of an unidentified body, and she soon discovers her new neighbor is more than a potential jogging partner.

Surgeon Dave Holmes is optimistic about his future. He has a new job, a new apartment, and an immediate attraction to a woman running in the park. He intends to discover more than her beautiful legs and unusual name. Then his boss is murdered and Dave lacks an alibi. Maylee’s questions and the handgun on her hip revive horrible memories.

Maylee’s search for hard evidence clears Dave, but brings her to the personal attention of the killer. In a tangle of career, family, and budding relationship all their lives could unravel if the wrong thread is tugged.


Stare Down Excerpt:

A moment later Dave knocked twice on the door and pushed it open. Yellow legal pads, one recorder, and several cellophane wrappers lay scattered on the long table. He flicked his gaze away from the inanimate objects and discovered one person, a woman in gray pants and jacket, standing at the coffee maker. His lips froze before a greeting escaped.

Her? She worked for the police? A detective? Fragile dreams of shared runs, quiet meals, and warm embraces spun during the past two nights vanished. Apprehension, his internal beast, stood at attention in the curve of his stomach, still as a carved stone gaining weight by the second.

“Have a seat, Dr. Holmes. My partner stepped out for a few minutes but we can get started. Coffee? Water?” Maylee turned and inspected him over the rim of a paper cup.

Detective. Female. Gun. He swallowed back the primal cry climbing his throat. The trifecta of terror stood five feet away. Once upon a time…until Dr. DeVino told him his boss was dead and detectives needed statements, it had been a better than average day. He shook his head before claiming the nearest metal and fiberglass chair. “This,” he gestured to include the entire room, “is an awkward way to learn your occupation.”


Ellen ParkerRaised in a household full of books, it was only natural that Ellen Parker grew up with a book in her hand. She turned to writing as a second career and enjoys spinning the type of story which appeals to more than one generation. She encourages readers to share her work with mother or daughter – or both. When not guiding characters to their “happily ever after” she’s likely reading, tending her postage stamp garden, or walking in the neighborhood. She currently lives in St. Louis. You can find her on the web at: or on Facebook at:





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