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In August 2011 I ran a “HAVE A CHARACTER NAMED AFTER YOU” competition. The winner was to be a character and have their name mentioned in book 3 of the Daughters of the Wind series. But a funny thing happened. My winner was Catherine Houden of WA and as I wrote her into the story, instead of just a mentioning Catherine as a character Jessikah meets at the EAO, she came alive in my imagination. I loved having her in the book and I found she had an important role to play. In fact, Catherine felt so incredibly real to me that her part within the story grew and became VITAL to the story.

I urge other authors to give this terrific idea a go it was the most rewarding experience for both Catherine and I.

Catherine with Winds of Time

From Catherine ..
“I finished reading the last book two days ago and cannot even begin to describe the pride and awe I felt, not just at seeing my name in print but being such a wonderful character in the story with such a purpose! When I first opened the book and saw my name in the credits I was so overcome with emotion it took me by surprise! I am so glad and honoured that Catherine felt so real to you. It certainly reads that way to me. I think I was expecting Catherine to be mentioned on just one or two pages (or 5 pages if I was lucky!) I certainly did not expect her to be so integral to the plot. Thank you for your competition and such a thrilling story. It has been fabulous being involved in such a project.”

A short excerpt from Winds of Time including Catherine:

“Three hours after Catherine closed the door on her hotel room she stared at her work. She wondered at the slightly familiar features of the face, tracing the outline of her pencil sketch with her finger.
He certainly reminded her of someone. Her mind cast back – where had she seen this face? That determined jaw, a prominent nose with a penetrating stare below dense dark hair and frowning eyebrows.
How could she forget a face like this? Her whole attention focused on the sketch pad.
‘On the boat,’ she said aloud. But where on the boat?
She made several slight adjustments to the drawing and nodded. Satisfied, she dialled Marc’s number to tell him she had finished.
The knock on the door made her jump.
‘It’s Marc and Bill, can we come in?’
Catherine rushed to the door flinging it open.
‘I’m pretty sure this person was on the boat.’
Marc looked across at Bill. Hope washed over his face as he took in every angle of the face on the sketch. Having a lead had surprised him and his hands were shaking at the idea.
Bill was straight into action mode. ‘I think we should do several copies of this drawing and keep the original somewhere safe,’ he said. ‘Then we can take a copy to the police and with some luck we
might be able to find the captain of the boat.’
‘I imagine the boat has returned for another load of passengers. Still, the police may know where the captain lives. They might even know the man.’

Marc took a lead from Bill. ‘I’ll ring the police station.’ He was already dialling.
Bill picked up the sketch book. ‘While Marc’s organising an appointment I might go downstairs and ask reception to do a few photocopies for us.’
Catherine resumed her seat at the computer, double checking that she had saved the image. Just as Marc hung up from the police, his phone rang. He didn’t recognise the number.
‘No, no of course I don’t mind that you rang,’ he said. ‘We don’t have many leads but we’re trying to be optimistic. You don’t have to come. You are? Alright, we’ll see you in a few hours – the
Art-déco style Old Cataract Hotel.’
Catherine lifted her eyebrows at his words. ‘Can I ask who that was?’
‘It was Sabeel,’ Marc said. ‘I guess you know him?’
Catherine nodded. ‘He’s Jessikah’s young friend, the one who gave her the eye of Horus. We met him at the EAO, but Jessikah had a special affinity with him.’
‘She told me,’ Marc answered. ‘His mother was in touch with Hasan, expecting Jessikah to be back by now. The boy sounded very worried. Apparently he’s already more than halfway to Aswan.’
Catherine answered a brief knock and Bill entered.
‘I did six copies, one for all of us.’ He handed the sketch book back to Catherine and she slipped it into the computer bag’s side pocket.
‘We’ve an appointment at the police station in half an hour and Sabeel Khan is driving to Aswan. He wants to help. It would be useful to have a local with us,’ Marc said as they hurried downstairs to
the dining room.
By the time they took their seats Emma, Dana and the children had returned from the hospital.
‘We left Carole at the hospital,’ Dana said. ‘I think they wanted some time alone.’
‘Do I need to ask if you were successful?’ Emma said. Something around Marc’s eyes made her think he had found some optimism.
Bill handed them a copy of Catherine’s sketch.
‘I think I’ve seen this man,’ Dana said. ‘I’m sure he was on the boat.’
Marc nodded, ‘Catherine thought so too. Let’s hope the police know him or if we can find the captain, he would have to know who he is.’
Bill checked the time. ‘Marc we’d better go.’
All eyes turned to Marc.
‘We’re going to the police station to have another chat with the inspector. Oh and before I forget, the boy Sabeel is driving to Aswan, to help.’

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