Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Question of Character

I'll admit, I didn't put much thought into this post. Okay, so it was actually no thought whatsoever. In fact, I totally forgot about it.
Its Wednesday evening here in Australia and I was all ready to kick back on the couch and put on my Season 8 Smallville DVD (I'm doing a re-watch). Except then I happened to look at the calendar where I organize my entire life and realize I'd booked myself in to do a post here today, as Severance came out on Monday.
Usually I work when my kids go to bed, from 7:30pm to about 10:30pm. I might get an hour here or there other days, while the kids are napping, or if I send them off to grandma's house. But I've been working my tushie off for the past few days, doing revisions and preparing the first three chapters of a manuscript of mine that an agent requested to see (yes, doing a happy dance over that). My point is, I'd decided tonight I wasn't going to work, I was going to go chill out on the couch and have an early night.
When I sat down to write this post (with no idea what I was going to talk about) I told my husband "mummy is off the clock". It’s a bit of a joke I like to make, when I sit down to work and am handing all parental duties off to him, which usually happens for a few hours over the weekends as well.
This got me thinking, as I took off my limp, torn, stained-with-tonight's-dinner mummy's hat, and put on my sparkly writer's hat (damn, now I really wish I DID have a sparkly writer's hat. Note to self: find sparkly hat to write in). It made me think about the different personas we have for different facets of our lives. I can unequivocally say that the person I present to the world as a writer is far different to that I show my children as their mother. Being a mother is again, very different to how I act in social situations and how I am socially is different to how I used to act when I had a job.
We all have different 'faces' we show to people.
Now, you may be asking what this has to do with anything. However, as a writer, people fascinate me. It interests me seeing the diverse ways people can act, depending what situation they've been put into. I've been told off more than once by my hubby for 'staring' when we've been out somewhere in public. But I can't help it! It's all fodder for the imagination.
As an author, it'd be easy to only present one facet of a character's personality, especially in romance. We all know people in love can do ridiculous, wonderful things. But I think the secret of making memorable characters is about depth. Yes, we've probably all heard of that before, but what does it really mean?
I'm no expert and I don't have all the answers. But when I come up with a character, I like to think of who they really are, in all aspects of their lives. How their parents see them, their siblings, their friends, their co-workers. All those outside people would have little tidbits about that character, which as a whole, creates a larger picture. Makes a character real.
And yes, I do tend to talk about my characters as if they're real people, as if their lives actually are happening somewhere.
I tend to view my stories as a small slice in a larger, longer story. That character had a life before I came along and put them on a page. They grew up, went to school, had a first love, and did many things that made them into the person they've become. After I've taken my slice of their life, they'll go on living and experience other things.
This is what I want when I'm creating a story. I want my characters to be individual because of the unique things they've experienced in their life. I want there to be a sense of continuity, even though the book might be ending. Most of all, I want all theses things, which won't even get mentioned in the book, to make my character deep, believable and maybe just a little bit memorable.
It's not easy. Sometimes a character refuses to cooperate and they tend to stay a bit 'blurry' when I'm trying to reveal who they are. I'm having that exact problem with one of my heroines at the moment. But, sometimes they just pop into your head, fully formed, ready to spill their guts to a captive audience. In those times, the book pretty much writes itself.
And now that I've rambled on about some of what goes on in my busy little brain, I've got a date with some Smallville DVDs to keep… Mmm, that Tom Welling. Now there's some inspiring hero material. Or, as I like to call it, 'research'.

Severance, the second book in my Sanctuary series available now from Noble Romance Publishing.

Nakita Branson made a deal with a demon to rescue her best friend. But when things don't go the demon's way, he dumps her off on a derelict spacestation with no money and no way of getting home.

A year later, Nakita is still searching for her friend, but finds trouble instead. And the only thing worse than the possibility of getting killed by a fanatical jerk? A familiar, green-eyed demon turning up just in time to save her.
Alastor is back with news that the contract they agreed to is still intact, and until he can find a way to break it, he is compelled to protect her.
The last thing Nakita wants to do is go anywhere with the demon who has a history of screwing her over. Not only that, but when he looks at her with that emerald gaze, intense enough to burn, she feels something she shouldn't for the gorgeous demon.
With the demon monarchy in chaos and enemies all over the universe, they are forced to rely on each other while unraveling the mystery of two sacred relics, and the contract that still binds them. But, by the time Alastor and Nakita find a way to sever their deal, the idea of being apart may no longer be what either of them wants.

Find me on Facebook, I'll be giving away a copy of Severance this week.!/pages/Jess-Anastasi/129441077081452

Jess has been making up stories since she can remember. Though her messy handwriting made it hard for anyone else to read them, she wasn't deterred and now she gets to make up stories for a living. She loves loud music, dumb movies, and a good book on a rainy day. Jess lives in regional Victoria, Australia with her very supportive husband, two kids and one spoiled border collie. Learn more about Jess at


Erin Grace said...

Great interview, Jess! I LOVE your


Erin Grace

chevallum said...

Hey Jess - fantastic post. I love doing the 'research' with you (sending you some later ; ) )

Cass xox

AllureVanSanz said...

Research! Here in the states, the cost of the DVD collection would be a tax deduction! ::grins::

I have characters that change on me at times, and some that are clear as day. I usually find clarity in the shower or while doing dishes. LOL

Thanks for sharing, Jess!

All my best,