Hi there writery fans. After the phenomenal success of my last blog hop entry (or possibly because no-one else was available), I’ve been asked by my Aussie mate, top movie reviewer and fantastic author, Susan May, to take part in another um… blog hop. Hooray!
Check out Susan’s blog hop here: Character whispering & what does Scarlett O’Hara and Hannibal Lecter have in common?
The theme this time is ‘what makes a good character?’ To answer this, first take a look at how writing ‘works’. We writers put down words, and the reader, reads them. Are you with me so far? And it is in this reading that quite an amazing thing happens. The reader brings all their experiences, everything that has happened to them—the people they’ve met, what they’ve said and done, the good and the bad, all of it—to that moment. So no matter how we describe a scene, or a person within that scene, the words we use will always illicit a different response. This has always fascinated me, especially when creating characters. That’s why I always prefer to always ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’. Its basic writing technique, but the most successful characters are always the one’s we feel we know and the best way to get them across is to see them in action.
Okay, I’ve done my intro paragraph and now comes the the questions section. I’ve already blathered on about my last release, the Cowl Omnibus (IronSythe Sagas), recently in this blog, so instead, and because I’m presently working on the sequel, I’m gonna chat about my sci-fi adventure ‘Into The Rip’ series, starting with BLUE INTO THE RIP.
So to the first question…
‘What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
He’s called Blue and fictional. Here’s how I introduce him:
BLUE, THE colour of the sky, of the ocean, of certain stars and planets and the hue of the bluest eyes you have ever seen.
The lanky teenager, nicknamed Blue after those same eyes, ran headlong through the trees. He criss-crossed the rising ground, creating a perfect search pattern in the near total blackness. Dim light from a thin crescent moon was nothing more than flecks of ghostly white poking through the packed canopy. Gloomy, mysterious and dangerous, the crag upon which sat Dooleys Wood dominated the local landscape like the giant head of an old grizzled ape.
Blue is every disaffected, morose, troubled teen. Except that there is nothing everyday about his intelligence. He’s a fifteen-year old with super-brain. He’s also possess a mish-mash of genetics—he’s a melting pot of races but does not resemble any one of them. His features are odd—rounded and pointy in the wrong places. Brown-skinned, blue-eyed and absurdly tall, standing at six-foot five, he’s pretty much unmistakable, which is a shame as he’d like to disappear into the background.
The name ‘Blue’ came from how I work. I was looking through a few old notebooks for inspiration (yes, I was in that awful, desperate place) and found this perplexing set of words in a pretty impressive circle of pen: ‘Blue Into The Rip’. I knew immediately that this referred to a character called ‘Blue’ and that he was going to go through some space or time rip. And that’s how he came about.
When and where is the story set?
Now there’s a question. Let me try and answer without giving to much away. BLUE INTO THE RIP is set in present day England, in the future of year 2454, in London, in an enormous and impressive habitat under what is left of the Amazon Jungle, in space, upon The Charles Darwin Spacestation, and above the rings of the planet Saturn. Oh, and inside a giant stalactite.
Most of the action takes place on a flooded, globally warmed future Earth, so the novel can be classed as a ‘Cli-Fi’. Regardless of the debates about global warming, which I tire of, there is no doubt that the Earth is presently heating up, with the possibility of another ice-age if it doesn’t cool down again pretty soon. With this in mind, I set about thinking about this future world and what will be the end of civilisation as we know it. Yet the novel is not a survivalist, doom and gloom story. The humans here formed themselves into Earth Corps, who are pretty much over all that ‘end of the world’ stuff and are happily building new civilisations off-world. With the discovery of the rip, there is plenty of scope for this series to be set anywhere in the universe.
The sequel, BLUE INTO THE PLANET, is an off-world story, and as I don’t want to give anything away, that’s all you’re getting…
What should we know about Blue?
Like most adolescents, he’s his own worst enemy. Add a superior brain, a photographic memory and a bad attitude and you’re pretty much there. But this is a temporary veneer that hides his true personality. He’s altruistic, honorable and very loyal. Back in the past at school, he is very different from everyone else. He looks odd, he’s tall and, he believes, possesses stupid, big googley eyes and calls himself ‘The Freak Boy’.
In the future, he’s forced to join a military academy and has to live with cadets who at first he hates, but slowly comes to respect. He is no longer special, he’s just one of the guys and this allows him to relax… mostly, until I hit him with some pretty shocking plot developments. HAHAHA!
What is the main conflict that messes up his life?
Blue is stolen to the future, but when he gets there, it turns out he’s not wanted. He finds out he’s a minor player in a bigger story. But he doesn’t care about any of that. To him,the future world is all temporary until he can find a way home to the past. He brings with him his sarcasm, his anger and resentment and consciously tries to not fit in—and anyway, why should he bother?
As a result, he gets into arguments and into trouble with Commander Dauntless, the Academy’s honour-obsessed nutter of a commanding officer. But soon, Blue’s single-mindedness comes back to haunt him and he finds himself in danger of losing everything important.
What makes great characters?
‘Believability’. Us humans are pretty complex creatures. Most of us at sometime or another have been selfish, cruel, angry, irritated, cocky, sad, lonely, lost, pushed aside, etc.—the list goes on. This gives a rich vein from which to create characters—characters that we understand from the inside. Great characters tap into these emotions and allow us to feel the same emotion. Some writers go into long, descriptive passages to achieve this, some use just a few words, but however we do it, they must have ‘believability’. Get into the mind of your cocky character, channel your actual emotion into that character, revel in them. You may feel a little dirty afterwards, but hey, it’s ‘art’ so we’re okay.
So why ‘fear of flying’?
I’m frightened of flying. It’s a an awful phobia. I’m flying in a few days so it’s very much on my mind. But I get on the damn plane, give myself over to it and suffer until it’s over. And that’s what we must do with those difficult characters. Sure, it’s easy to write a character we’re familiar with, but sometimes we have to go into the mind of someone we don’t like. Don’t shy away. Let them take you over for a while. The turbulence might scare you, but you can always have a cocktail at the airport bar afterwards… and work on better similes!
Plug your book
As if I needed a reason. Tsk. BLUE INTO THE RIP is the first novel of the INTO THE RIP series. here’s the blurb and stuff:
A Young Adult, Science Fiction, Climate Change, Time-Travel Adventure.
Blue didn’t want to be in the future
They didn’t want him there either…
A rip in the fabric of time, a far-flung globally warmed future, a flooded Earth and the only remainder of civilisation – a militaristic organisation living underneath ‘Desert Amazon’…
Getting back home was the only thing that mattered to messed up, mixed race teenager, Blue (named after his stupid, googly blue eyes) – and that was the problem – home was over four hundred years in the past.
Ripped forwards in time from his odd hippy parents, their peculiar house and his lonely school life, Blue had only one thing on his mind: return. But how does a lowly cadet in a militaristic Academy living in a post-apocalyptic future achieve such a goal, especially with the distractions of girls, pilot training, spacewalks and his almost constant unpopularity?
The more Blue found out about this flooded, gung-ho annoying future, about himself – who and what he was (was he even human?) – and the equally disturbing and shocking truth about his ‘parents’ – the more he realised getting home was the only solution. Wasn’t it? If Blue knew one thing, it was that he would at least try.
You can get this book absolutely free is you subscribe to my newsletter. yes, FREE! See the subscribe form below, or you can buy BLUE INTO THE RIP from the following links… Enjoy!
Amazon Kindle US | UK
Barnes & Noble US | UK
iTunes Store US | UK
Smashwords (Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, iPad/iPhone, Palm, PDF etc.)
Paperback US | UK
Book 2, BLUE INTO THE PLANET is nearing completion and will be out in the next couple of months.
And there we have it. Another blog hop done and dusted! Hopefully I’ve not scored too highly on the pretentiousness meter this time… hopefully.
So who’s next on the blog hop? Um, right. Yeah. should’ve got someone. Bugger. I am flying in a few days, so blame that. Watch this space…