In Linda Nielsen’s ‘Life Rolls Along,’ Every Character Has a Great Origin Story [GUEST POST]

What does it take to make an unforgettable character? (Photo courtesy Canva)

We love stories populated with outrageous characters! They’re one of the reasons shows like Dallas and Dynasty were such big hits and why novels like Scruples and Chances are still beloved by audiences the world over. Like Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins before her, Linda Nielsen is an author with a real knack for populating her books with unforgettable faces. But what goes into crafting them? Where do the ideas for them come from? With the publication of her new novel, Life Goes On, Nielsen herself dishes on how she came up with two of her favorite characters in this exclusive guest post. Enjoy! —J&H

Paddington Burke banner

Often the best characters bounce in and out of life on a daily basis; the trick is to notice them.

Years ago, when I went to aerobics on a steady basis, there was an over-the-top, aggressive stock broker, somewhere in his mid-forties, who annoyed most of the people in class by bragging about his outstanding portfolio based on his exceptional knowledge to make the right market calls.  It was rumored that he kept his youthful collection of baseball cards tucked under his pillow, so after a difficult day he could go home, get them out and play with them, thus relieving his stress level. I thought, huh, this is information to store.

Sure enough, when Paddington Burke, the bizarre son of a wealthy business man, hit the pages of Life Rolls Along, his collection of oddities – though not baseball cards – was taken from that stock broker. Though Paddington doesn’t brag about his ability as a business man – because he has no ability – he does try to steal the heroes’ wife.

A couple years later my aerobics burnout, I noticed a rotund fella who attended the Chamber of Commerce Mixers.  He wore a crooked hair piece, which I fought the desire to reach out and straighten.  I never did, but I added this trait to the Paddington character; only I made it a dramatic black curly hairpiece and watched as he grew into a wealthy, silly, self-serving boyfriend for Delaney Mae Anne von Campe-Covington-Topple. Paddington, to his credit, changed the scoop of the story by adding a new dimension that helped the other players evolve.  This surprised me as I had intended for him to play a minor roll but, as the story took form, he claimed his own personality and wanted more space on the page.  

Terri Sue Ellen von Camp-Covington banner

When I was thinking about an unusual character that could carry the story line forward in a dramatic fashion, I ran across my prototype in the grocery store. I heard a whining female voice loudly berate the clerk for not having her brand of coffee. I didn’t want to turn around, so I reached down to get instant coffee on the lower shelf, and I looked up as she continued to tell the clerk how important she was and how lucky they were that she shopped at their store.  Bam! Terri Sue Ellen, southern belle extraordinaire, was born! I’ve been told that she’s the nastiest character to hit the pages of a book in some time, but she’s so real, with all her faults, her ignorant attitude and her self-importance, she’s hilarious . . . of course she doesn’t know that!

Terri Sue Ellen continues to annoy her public in Life Rolls Along. Never missing a shot at being underhanded, she attempts to control those around her with her lies.  Some readers take her seriously; oh, don’t do that! While others dislike her, they still want to keep reading to see what outlandish idea she’ll embrace next.  

I ask my characters, both kind and loving people, as well as the unscrupulous, to bring attitude and energy to the story.  Their personality conflicts make for a faster moving, often hilarious scene.  I hope my readers enjoy some good laughs along with a touch of inspiration and reflection.  

As Paddington and Terri Sue Ellen’s writer, I’m interested in knowing what you think.  If you have the time, please email me at: or contact me at Author Central at Thanks for your time!  Your opinion means a lot to me!

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Synopsis banner
Linda Nielsen's LIFE ROLLS ALONG
TouchPoint Press

Sequel to Because I’m Worth It

Sophisticated laughs with a down-home twist!

The funny complexities of life pair with devious ideas to destroy a marriage. Skye Topple finds himself embarking on a journey to sort through the shambles of his life’s choices. When the bizarre son of a new business partner covets his wife, he’s willing to move on and makes a series of decisions that could go in his favor . . . or not. How dangerous is he and how far will he go to get what he wants?

An eccentric ruse prevails, sporting wicked humor as the Covington family sells out their affluent consultant firm in an attempt to rise to prominence in the world of real estate.

About the Author banner
Linda Nielsen
Linda Nielsen

Linda Nielsen is the author of Because I’m Worth It. A former model, she also founded California Contemporaries, a temporary employment agency in Monterey and served as a military representative with the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce before writing her first book.

As a business owner, Linda found herself mentally storing away bits and pieces of information about the people who passed through her offices over the years, and many of these folks still influence her characters today.

Now retired, Linda lives close to wine country on the top of a mountain in the Sierra Foothills with her husband, seven furry critters, and limited cell phone service. Now she finally has time to write! Find all of her books at her Author Central page, or if you’d like to drop her a line, feel free to contact her via email at

By Linda Nielsen
321 pp. TouchPoint Press. $16.99.

About Linda Nielsen
Linda Nielsen is the author of BECAUSE I'M WORTH IT and the sequel, LIFE GOES ON. She lives close to wine country in the Sierra Foothills with her husband.

6 Responses to In Linda Nielsen’s ‘Life Rolls Along,’ Every Character Has a Great Origin Story [GUEST POST]

  1. Gael Gallant says:

    Sometimes it is hard to put into words how you feel about the characters in a book and what the book means to you. But, because I have lived here in Monterey, California for several years and traveled throughout the world, first with a military family and then just because we love to see other parts of our beautiful world, I can say the characters live in one form or another everywhere.
    Linda has brought us a microcosm of our reality. There are plenty of Delany’s and Terri Sue’s in our small planet. But, thank goodness there are also Melissa’s and Pete’s also.

    We are lucky to find people like Linda who take us into a wonderful story (in both books) that make us cheer for the positive side of life. She has brought us full circle to give a family their happy ending even though it is hard to find sometime!

    In this pandemic it was a joy to find myself lost in a book and able to put myself in their homes and their lives. It was a pleasure!

    Thank you, Linda!

  2. Ann P Sale says:

    How fascinating – we’ve all observed “over the top” characters at the grocery store, in our aerobics class etc. but do we turn them into full blown, never to be forgotten people in a full blown story! This is a rare talent and I love this insight into building a character from a hasty observation. Thank you for sharing! Let’s have more!

    • Linda L Nielsen says:

      I’m so happy that other people have found ‘unusual’ characters in normal places! Makes me feel that I’m not odd. Thank you! Linda Nielsen

  3. Ann Armstrong says:

    Too often outrageous characters don’t live comfortably on the page. Linda Nielsen is that rare author who can make her outsized characters believable and fun. “Because I’m Worth It” was a book well worth reading and i look forward to reading “Life Goes On”.

  4. John L. Baker says:

    I have read both of Linda Neilsen’s books and found them to be delightful. It helps to know where she gets her ideas because the characters, while outrageous, seem so real. Keep up the good work.

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