Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

GUEST POST: The Tail or The Dog?

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Michael R. Franch, author of “Ghost With Two Hearts.”

By Michael R. French

Author of Ghost With Two Hearts

The relationship between characters and plot in any novel is pivotal and  tricky. A story is often plot driven but what I remember  most when I finish a satisfying read are the characters.  Of course, good plots makes characters memorable how they get in and out of jams, express or repress their emotions, and make sacrifices, but down deep I just like who they are above and beyond what they do.  They may start out as the tail but they end up as the dog. 
 My own characters sometimes become friends.  At least conversationally. “Hey,  should I return my latest, ridiculous Amazon purchase?” Or, “What wine should I  bring to this dinner party because my expertise is wine labels.” If they’re going to be my friends, this begs the question about what kind of characters do I like to draw from in real life. Someone different from me, as much as possible, and who strikes me as interesting in conflicted ways.  Someone challenged by the limits of both their strengths and their weaknesses. In the end, I hope they are sympathetic to most readers.
Even unsympathetic characters require a lot of attention and exploration before they go on the written page.  Minor characters, too, require serious thought because their place in the narrative can enhance or diminish the total effect. Every blemish – and all novels have them, if a reader looks closely enough -shows.
In Ghost With Two Hearts, there are two main characters, and I like both, but creating one, a computer coder, was easier than fabricating the other, a ghost serving an eternity in Shinto Hell.  Making a realistic (at least plausible) ghost, about whom an author  can’t do much research, worked out in the end. A lot of drafts were  written and discarded over 18 months.  I got to invent a ghost who is quite human.  She is being tortured by gods (i.e., society) by denying her the right to sleep/dream, controlling her memories, and shutting her off completely from loved ones she inadvertently damaged but longs to be forgiven by and united with.  How does anyone escape a fate like that?
We know the need to be loved is universal. In Ghost With Two Hearts, I began to wonder if that includes the dead.

About Ghost With Two Hearts:


Approaching 30, Adrian, a talented software engineer, takes stock of his wealth and accolades – and how unhappy he is. He doesn’t make friends easily, dislikes social media, and was bloodied in a divorce. He finds no common purpose in a country defined by political vitriol, distrust, and inequality.

Taking a leave of absence from his company, he travels to Japan with a samurai sword that his grandfather stole from a Japanese captain in World War Two. Adrian is determined to find its rightful heir. Doing the morally correct thing, he hopes, will make him feel better about his life.

Print Length: 193 Pages

Genre: Fiction, Cultural Heritage Fiction, Ghost Fiction

Publisher: Independently Published January 12, 2023


Find Michael online at:

Author website 






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