Saturday, May 14, 2011

Where Do Characters Come From?

By Lavinia Lewis (Guest Blogger)

Hi Lisabet! Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog.

As authors, write what you know is something we are told constantly. The instruction is in nearly every how-to book on writing I have ever consumed. And believe me I’ve read a lot of them. But I have to wonder how true the directive actually is or how literally we should take it. For example how many people has Stephen King killed in real life? Or how many witches and wizards has J. K. Rowling met? As writers we use our imagination. If we didn’t there would be no science fiction or fantasy epic novels available for us to read.

My first published work is an M/M werewolf shifter novel set in Texas. I can assure you I am not a gay man, have never been to Texas and have never (as far as I am aware) come into contact with any werewolves. However, I have lost count of the number of M/M books I have read over the past few years, both contemporary and supernatural, so I guess in a way I am writing what I know.

I would love to say the characters and plot of my series came to me in a dream, or that I was one day blinded by a sudden burst of inspiration and couldn’t get my fingers to type fast enough but, I’m woman enough to admit my books are the result of years of reading in a genre I love. Yes, I have always had a love affair with writing and the written word but it is the books I have read that have inspired me to take the plunge and produce my own. But how closely did I stick to that wonderful old adage?

If we take Stephen King as an example, several of the characters in his books are writers, so he too is to some extent writing what he knows. And of course people are people. It doesn’t matter what situation, country, planet or world we place them in because human behaviour is universal.

I have to a certain degree been able to identify with some trait or other from nearly every character in every book I’ve read. It doesn’t matter if that character is a brain surgeon, a werewolf, a vampire or an alien from another planet, they were written by human beings and all have human characteristics. And we all know that dynamic, compelling characters one can identify with is a key element to reading and enjoying a book.

How many times have you been unable to put down a book because you love the characters so much you can’t wait to find out what happens to them? Yes, plot, world building, a certain degree of skill at writing and the ability to tell a good story are all important elements too, but months or even years after we finish a book it is the characters we remember.

And where do our characters come from? We interact with literally hundreds of thousands of people over the course of our lives, millions maybe. Each and every person is unique. As a writer it would simply be impossible to meet all those wonderful people and not take something from them. We may take an accent here, a hand gesture there or a phrase someone uses repeatedly. We throw them all together and mould them into a character to use in one of our stories. I am sure we are all guilty of it. And by doing so we are writing what we know.

That being said it would be impossible to write about say a country we have never visited without a certain amount of research. For my series I researched Texas. The towns, the climate, the people and of course ‘Texas tawk’. I did try not to overdo the colloquialisms but I wanted my characters to act and sound authentic. However the biggest part of my research was simply to read countless other werewolf stories to garner some modicum of information on werewolf folk lore. Considering my love of the genre that was not a difficult thing to have to do. The first book I completed, Luke’s Surprise, is now part one in my Shifters’ Haven series. I am currently working on books four and five. The series has taken me on a wonderful journey and I have met and continue to meet incredible and fascinating people who inspire me every day. I am certain some of them will one day end up as characters in one of my stories too; after all, I’m only writing what I know.

Luke’s SurpriseBook one in the Shifters’ Haven series

Available from Total-E-Bound Publishing

Is true love with your soul mate worth risking your life for?

When werewolf Luke Morgan runs a simple errand with his brother Kelan, the last thing he expects to find at their neighbour’s ranch is his soul mate. The incredibly sexy ranch foreman Mark Malone is every gay man’s fantasy. The only problem? Neither Luke nor Mark are gay.

Unable to deny the attraction they feel for one another, they decide to try and make things work between them. The relationship at first seems all they could hope for but trouble in the guise of Ethan Walker, a werewolf who has his sights set on Luke, threatens to destroy their newfound happiness and the future they have planned together.

When Ethan’s threats turn to physical violence, will they still think the mating bond and blossoming love between them is worth risking their lives for?

Bio: Lavinia discovered reading at an early age and could always be found with her nose in a book. She loved getting lost in a fantasy world even then. When her parents bought her a typewriter for Christmas at aged eleven, her fate was sealed. She spent hours dreaming up characters and creating stories. Not a lot has changed. Now when she is not writing you can find her enjoying a new release e-book.

Lavinia has lived all over the UK but currently resides in London, England. She has travelled extensively to places including Africa, Asia, Australia, America and most of Europe. Although some of her books are set in Texas she has never visited the state but plans to spend time there in the near future.

She is an avid reader and her favourite authors include Ethan day, J L Langley, Carol Lynne, Chris Owen and Andrew Grey. Lavinia particularly loves supernatural fiction and her favourite authors in this genre include Kelly Armstrong, Keri Arthur and Charlaine Harris.

Although Lavinia is a huge fan of the romance genre, she will admit to reading anything and everything. She loves horror, a good thriller and if a book has the capacity to make her cry, well, all the better. One thing she does insist on in a book however, regardless of genre is a happy ending, so you will always find one in the books she writes.


Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, Lavinia!

Welcome to Beyond Romance.

I'm curious as to what attracted you to write about Texas. It's not a place I'd consider to be glamorous - though maybe it seems exotic to a Londoner!

LaviniaLewis said...

Hi Lisabet,

thank you for the warm welcome. Texas. Well there are many things that attract me to the state. Firstly its size amazes me. Texas is three times the size of the UK and it is a state that has everything. Beautiful beaches abound, It has mountain ranges, vast open spaces, the Rio grande, a hot climate and don't even get me started on the Cowboys.

Although I live in London now, I'm from Wales originaly and I've always been attracted to places that seem so far removed from my own experiences.

Oh and Texas also boasts the world's largest Honky Tonk, that alone is reason enough for me to want to visit :)


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