Jim and Beth Prescott are two key characters in the novel, although Beth is key only because when writing the book, her murder became the first scene in the novel. From there we get to see why she was murdered, who was involved, and how that act impacts James and Lily.
Jim is James’ father, and is a steady influence for James, kind of an example of what can happen when we forgive. He’s able to move on with his life, hurting over the murder of his wife, of course, but not willing to let it destroy him as well. For Lily, Jim becomes the father figure that she never had, and through him she is able to see a different life, see why James is the way he is, and recognize that she can have these things as well. The two men basically give her a paradigm shift in regards to men. She realizes that she deserves to have a healthy, loving relationship with a man and that a good man respects and honors the woman he is with.
Jim’s devotion to Beth – obvious love for the wife he lost – helps Lily see that she can have a good relationship with James. In this case, the father sets the example. In the first drafts of the novel I almost killed Jim off as well, near the end of the novel, but my readers informed me that that would be terrible! They saved his life.
Beth’s character was an interesting one for me. I wanted James to have a connection with her despite the fact that he lost her, and I wanted to show that she was still present in his life. I personally don’t believe we are alone in this world, so I chose to integrate Beth into the novel through writing in dreams and surreal experiences that hint at otherworldly activity. This was a chance for me to visit the idea that we receive help, often without realizing it, from the other side. To me, the thought that my loved ones are helping my life move forward is comforting. While writing this novel I believe that they were helping me through my own life experiences, so that was how I chose to include Beth in the novel. She is a steady force supporting James, though for the most part he has no idea she is there.