Yes, it’s a compulsion. I must make life as miserable as possible for Fern Ruben, the hero of my Young Adult book, Dark Spirit.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Fern. But the more she suffers, the more she has to overcome. Then she can demonstrate her big heart to my readers. The lower I push her down, the higher she can rise. And that’s what readers want to see.

Novels are about getting your lead character in lots of trouble. And they need to be the agency that triumphs. It can’t be a flood or a detective or the gods (which is who used to solve problems in some of the Ancient Greek plays) or a coincidence or the wind. Fern must triumph. Or fail to do so. But it must be her test.

The great books have all tortured their heroes. So I am in good company.

Dark Spirit is a YA fantasy based on the Jewish myth of a dybbuk. Debuting in late 2021. Buy it for Fern, if not for me. She deserves a break.

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