Mary Anna Evans is the author of the Faye Longchamp series, which stars an archaeologist who also solves mysteries. Plunders, the latest installment, comes out today. It takes place near the mouth of the Mississippi River, where Faye and her husband have been hired to survey archaeological sites—a task made complicated by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Added to the mess is a murder, an inheritance battle and even pirates . . .

In a guest post for BookPage, Evans writes about the moment when her characters started to take on a life of their own.

Readers: When do you experience this kind of book magic? Are characters always real to you from the very beginning, or does it take them a while to grow on you?

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guest post by Mary Anna Evans

I love the act of writing. Magic creeps up behind me, and it always happens when I’m not looking.

Ordinary professional satisfaction comes when I think about the hard work that went into the book I’m holding in my hand. But the magic . . . there’s no predicting when it will wrap its arms around me.

When I wrote my first book, Artifacts, I thought of it as a story contained in itself—the story of an amateur archaeologist trapped in decades-old intrigue. While seeking justice for a murdered girl, Faye Longchamp uncovered centuries of her own family history, scraping away layer after layer of secrets, and she began building the friendship of a lifetime with Joe Wolf Mantooth. I first felt the magic then, as Faye’s personality grew under my hands and as Joe said things that even I didn’t know he was going to say.

I found that the characters I created for Artifacts had more stories to tell. The seventh in the Faye Longchamp series, Plunder, is out today, and Faye and Joe still surprise me. They’ve found their own way to navigate the tricky waters of marriage and parenthood, while struggling to keep their archaeological business afloat. What is more, they’re able to find even more love to give a brilliant but troubled teenager whose life flies apart when the grandmother who raised her is murdered.

Young Amande is one of those characters who came from nowhere and begged me to tell her story. How could Faye and Joe not help her find her place in a world that is often unwelcoming?

As Faye and Joe build a family, I remember a question I was asked after Floodgates (Faye Longchamp #4) ended with Faye and Joe making wedding plans. I can be oblivious sometimes, so I’ll admit that I didn’t expect the question I got, time and again:

“Is the series over?”

“Of course not,” I answered. “Life doesn’t end when you fall in love. If you’re lucky, that’s when the magic begins.”

Thanks, Mary Anna! Learn more about the Faye Longchamp series on Evans' website.

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