Writers often complain fondly about characters who show up unbidden and demand that their stories be written.

Well, I don’t just have characters. I have objects that *think* they’re characters.

This morning, I just figured out the purpose of a most recalcitrant baleen-framed oiled silk umbrella. The Prefect of Police gives it to my Inspector Ravenwood as he drops her off to interview a suspect. It makes quite a nuisance of itself. Why? Just to show off the fact that that the author has researched the history of umbrellas, and knows what one looked like and was made of in the early 1800s? Ok, yeah, there is that. But it turns out that this umbrella has an important role to play. It *wanted* me to know that it wasn’t just some awkward, hulking thing wrought from Ahab’s nemesis. In fact, when Ravenwood forgets it at the suspect’s apartment, it will find itself being swung upside the head of an unsuspecting bad guy, enabling the person who swings it to bring Ravenwood closer to the heart of the story.

Pretty noble for a mess of silk, oil, and baleen. And I suspect that this is not the last we will see of the Umbrella. I suspect I will end up giving it a name.

In Porcelain Dog there was the titular dog. There was also a gun and a very insistent overcoat.

My character objects–let’s call them totems–all seem to have a few things in common: they’re physically unattractive, they tend to have an adversarial relationship with the protagonist, and they end up being very, very important to the plot.

A psychologist would probably have a field day with it. As for me, I’ll just have to take out a pad and pencil and ask the totems to get in line with the others.

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