Friday, 11 March 2011

Novel characters - Fact or Fiction?

By which I mean, how do you create your characters? Which is best - basing them on real people, or creating them from scratch?
I expect everyone has a different opinion on this one so I’ll just tell you what works for me. There are no characters in my Artesans series based on real people, except one. I cannot deny that my main female character is the kind of person I’d like to be, but unfortunately, I’m nothing like her. Except that neither of us is tall.

The one character who is drawn from real life is Elias Rovannon, High King of Albia. I based him on the English actor Sean Bean, who many of you will know from his portrayal of Boromir in the Fellowship of the Ring, the first Lord of the Rings film. He also starred as Richard Sharpe, from novelist Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series. I have long been a fan of Sean Bean and by some unconscious quirk, when I began creating Elias Rovannon, the face in my mind was Sean’s. (PS: Don’t tell my husband! J)
I don’t know if Elias’s nature mirrors Sean’s at all, I made it a mix of Sharpe and Boromir, but physically, Elias and Sean are the same. Every time I imagine the thrill of having my series made into a film (and who among us doesn’t?) it’s Sean playing High King Elias.
I wonder what he would think about being the basis for a fantasy character? I hope he would be flattered, as although Elias has his faults, he’s essentially an honest human being who tries to run his realm fairly. He has some terrific action scenes and has to cope with betrayal, unrequited love, and a broken heart. He doesn’t come into his own until the second trilogy, but he’s a major player in the Artesan series.

So – who have you based characters on, and has that person ever found out? Or do you believe fictional characters should not be based on real people? I’d love to hear your opinions.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Fabulous Contest - you really want to win this one!

My friend and fellow Rhemalda author, Doug Brown, is hosting a fantastic contest to help publicize his fantasy novel Legends Reborn: Light of Epertase.
This is a wonderful idea and I'm sure it will be massively popular. So follow the link to learn more, and go enter!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Writing my novel - what an incredible experience!

Writing King’s Envoy, the first book in the Artesans of Albia series, was an incredible and, if I’m truthful, unnerving experience for me. I didn’t set out with the intention of writing a book – let alone a whole series – so I was completely taken by surprise when my little daydream, the scenario I described in my “I didn’t want to be an author!” post, turned into a frenzy of writing that took over my life. For nearly nine years. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything like it. For those who are old enough to remember the early computers, which used to spew their results out in a flip-flopping avalanche of perforated paper, that’s what writing Artesans was like for me. A good, old-fashioned “computer dump”. I had a hard time keeping up with all this “stuff” that just kept streaming into my head. I certainly didn’t know where it was coming from. At the time I started (Dec 2001) I didn’t own a computer and didn’t know how to use one, so I wrote everything longhand. Yes, in pen or pencil. (Anyone else remember writing like that?) I still have those first handwritten manuscripts (what a grand name for a stack of scribbled-on paper!) and the scrawly writing is testament to the efforts of my hand to keep up with the ideas tumbling from my mind. These days cut-and-paste makes things so much easier, but back then I had little arrows in margins and little asterisks on separate bits of paper, all indicating scenes that had to be inserted, or actions that couldn’t possibly have happened at that moment in the plot and had to be shifted. I still don’t know how I kept up with it all.

In those early days I was working “in secret”. I wasn’t writing a book, only amusing myself on cold winter days. There was no point telling anyone about it – there was nothing to tell. Only – gradually, day by day, something was growing. Something was struggling toward birth, toward fulfilment. Something was taking me over, using me for support, like a tree branch supports an orchid. Like that host tree, I was simply the framework from which this entity would flourish, and it would carry me along in its wake whether I willed it or not.

After a while - and after I began learning to transcribe my work to a laptop - I realized what was going on. I was writing a book! No one was more shocked than me. When I finally finished this “book” (it came out at nearly 400,000 words and eventually became the first Artesans trilogy) I knew I had to show it to someone. The obvious choice was my husband, who hadn’t failed to notice the times I’d woken in the night to scribble little notes, or the times during a TV program when I’d mutter, “Yes! That’s the way it’ll work” and scribbled once again. Bless him – what must he have thought? I’ll never forget the day I told him what I’d done, but I’ll have to save that for another post.