It’s probably a bit of both for me. When I come up with an idea for a book, I generally sit down and start brainstorming. Part of that is coming up with characters, and I make a lot of notes about the characters. My next step is to organize and formalize the ideas, and I usually do this by outlining the sequence of events and doing a bit of a write up about the characters. What inevitably happens, though, is that the characters develop on their own throughout the story. I start writing and then I see where it takes me. Sometimes the characters end up the same as I originally envisioned but more often than not they evolve a bit as I write the story and develop them more thoroughly and in depth. Sometimes the story sort of dictates how the characters develop and who and what they become. It’s always very interesting to see what becomes of each character, how they change, and how they grow.
The central figure in Gems & Jewels is Jarrod Van Kliem. The story starts out with him returning to Orlando from Congo Free State where he had successfully settled labor unrest among workers with his family’s company, Jewel Enterprises. He’s treated a bit like a celebrity billionaire businessman, but he is also intensely unpopular with certain elements in the public. He’s also very unpopular with certain members of his family who are convinced he’s returned to attempt to take over the company. He’s a bit of a ladies’ man. He owns a jai alai froton, among other business interests. He has a very close and powerful inner circle which protects him, advises him, and does the dirty work from time to time. He can be ruthless, and he certainly has a dark side but by all accounts he’s fair and decent. Is he the good guy or is he the bad guy? The readers will have to decide based on what they learn about him in Book II.