L  O  S  T     S  O  U  L  S
By David M. Fitzpatrick

Word Count: About 122,500 words

I've been writing books since I was a kid, but two years ago I began a project that has consumed much of my free time. What began as an attempt to write a screenplay for the fun of it quickly transformed into a novel that has changed my life. The completed book, Lost Souls, is complete, and I have begun putting out feelers to agents.

The Story
Jennifer Sheridan lives a nearly perfect lifeóuntil someone brutally kills her. She awakens in the body of another woman, one who has been raped and beaten nearly to death, and embarks on a supernatural mission: to find her own killer, to discover who apparently killed the woman whose body she inhabits, and to learn why she ended up in this womanís body. Along the way, she battles against everyone she knows and loves in a hopeless attempt to convince them all sheís really the women they buried two months before.

Told predominately in the first-person POV, there is no doubt to Jen or us that she is absolutely who she claims she is. She has every detailed memory of Jenís life. But who is the woman whose body she inhabits? What happened to her life force?

Her bizarre resurrection serves only to exacerbate her strange identity disorder. At stake are her family, her friends, her life, and maybe her sanity. Along the way, the biggest scientific and philosophical question of all begs to be answered: Why and how did this strange transfer of life forces happen? What will come of it? How does it all relate to her long-time identity disorder? When all is said and done, Jen understands.

The story occasionally departs from Jenís narrative to focus on the rapist/killer. The book opens with him striking two victims, and throughout the book he is without guilt or remorse, and steadily slips deeper into depravity and utter evil as he moves from victim to victim. And along the way, he knows one victim he left for dead is still alive. Itís the woman who now claims to be a dead Bangor police officer. And heís coming for her.

The Characters
The main characters are:

  • Jennifer Sheridan, the protagonist, is a police officer in Bangor, Maine. She lives in a the rural Maine town of Tarrington.
  • Derek Sheridan, Jenís husband, lives for his business, Jen, and their infant daughter, Mindy.
  • April Rice is Jenís best friend since childhood, the one who has always been there and knows everything about her.
  • Annie Monson is Jenís young sister, on her way to summer college classes in New Hampshire, afraid to leave everyone, and certain that sheíd rather hook up with a man than the boys she knows sheíll find at school.
  • Helen Monson is Jenís mother, apparently afraid of talking about any skeletons in the familyís closet, and upset at Jenís questions about whether there was anything traumatic in her childhood that perhaps sheíd forgotten.
  • Don Franklin is Jenís police chief, a gruff man who once made a drunken pass at her at a Christmas party.
  • Bob Travis works for Derek, and has always creeped Jen out with weird, infatuated stares.
  • Johnny Martin runs the rural convenience store, and has had a crush on her since high school, even though sheís now married. He is the last person who saw Jen alive.
  • Shirley Wallace is her counselor, trying to keep Jen focused and deal with her insecurities and strange personality disorder.
  • The Killer who raped and left for dead the woman whose body Jen now inhabits knows that woman was not dead, and plans to finish the job. Along the way, he grows more evil and depraved, and more daring as he claims his victims.

The Process
For those of you keeping score, this was a challenge in many ways:

First, it's in the first person. In many ways, the first person is the best way to tell a story; with one major protagonist, there's no better way to get into your character's head. The drawback is that you can't get into anyone else's. Because I wanted the reader to have no doubt Jen is who she thinks she is, this was the only way to do it. However, occasional jumps to the third person POV of the killer were necessary. I don't think I'm breaking new ground with this, but it is something of a literary risk. In the end, I feel it works very well. Along the way, third person present scenes describe Jen's dreams and flashbacks, for a disassociated feel.

Second, my protagonist is a woman. Way too often, men who write with female protagonists just don't get it; they end up being female characters that are nothing more than male characters with breasts. I was determined not to let this happen, and so focused on having several various women brutally critique the book. Thanks to Elaine, my wife, for reading it several times, and catching me having my protagonist come across too male in many instances--and for giving me some lessons on living on Planet Female. Also, special thanks to Kate England for grand feminine insights, and to my sister-in-law Andrea for observations about maternal behavior that I completely missed.
 

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