Thursday, February 28, 2013

Please Welcome Author Douglas W. Jacobson

Omnimystery News: Guest Author Post
by Douglas W. Jacobson

We are delighted to welcome novelist Douglas W. Jacobson as our guest.

Doug's most recent novel is the historical mystery thriller The Katyn Order (McBooks Press, May 2011 hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook formats).

Today Doug tells us how to make characters believable.

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Natalie Jastrow was a stunningly beautiful woman. She was also brilliant and filled with self-confidence to the point of being headstrong. Yet she had trouble with relationships and self-doubts about how she fit into society. She could be cool and calm under duress, yet had serious lapses of judgment when making critical decisions. When Herman Wouk created this unforgettable heroine of War and Remembrance he gave us a character we cared about from the very first page of this epic novel until the last. And, because of that, we cared about his story.

Douglas W. Jacobson
Photo provided courtesy of
Douglas W. Jacobson

That is the fundamental goal for anyone writing fiction — make the readers care about your characters. If they care about your characters, they will care about your story. So, what is it about characters like Natalie Jastrow, Scarlett O'Hara, Atticus Finch or Sherlock Holmes that make them so memorable?

It is because they are believable. They are as real as our best friends, our sisters or brothers. They have personality flaws and quirks, and they don't always act in a predictable way. They can at times be bold and courageous, and at other times hesitant and filled with self-doubt. Just like we are. They are not supermen … they are real people.

My first book was Night of Flames. After it was released in 2007, many readers contacted me to tell how much they enjoyed the character of Anna Kopernik. It was through her that they experienced and understood the courage of ordinary people in Poland during WW2. The ironic thing about that is that she was not even on my mind when I started writing the story. She just evolved along the way and before long she became my dominant character, the person I cared about the most.

When I was writing The Katyn Order, a mystery thriller, I wanted readers to understand what it was like to have everything and everyone you care about be suddenly and brutally torn away. I wanted the readers to experience the terror of not knowing who to trust, and not knowing if you would survive another day. Would you be able to carry on? Or would you be filled with hate and a quest for vengeance? And, if you were ever given a chance for redemption, could you rise above your inner demons and seize the moment? Natalia Kowalska and Adam Nowak evolved into those characters as I wrote the story. Many readers have told me they couldn't put the book down once they started. So, I guess they cared about Natalia and Adam. As a writer, that is the measure of success.

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Douglas W. Jacobson is an engineer, a business owner, and a World War II history enthusiast. In addition to The Katyn Order, he is the author of Night of Flames, which won the 2007 Outstanding Achievement award from the Wisconsin Library Association. He lives in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. Learn more about the author and his books on his website, DouglasWJacobson.com.

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The Katyn Order by Douglas W. Jacobson

The Katyn Order
A Novel by Douglas W. Jacobson

The German war machine is in retreat as the Russians advance. In Warsaw, Resistance fighters rise up against their Nazi occupiers, but the Germans retaliate, ruthlessly leveling the once-beautiful city.

American Adam Nowak has been dropped into Poland by British intelligence as an assassin and Resistance fighter. During the Warsaw Uprising he meets Natalia, a covert operative who has lost everything — just as he has.

Amid the Allied power struggle left by Germany's defeat, Adam and Natalia join in a desperate hunt for the 1940 Soviet order authorizing the murders of 20,000 Polish army officers and civilians. If they can find the Katyn Order before the Russians do, they just might change the fate of Poland.

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