Characters To Die For
I love a good mystery. It doesn’t matter what genre, there’s just something about following the clues to solve a puzzle that excites me. The characters in mysteries are usually strong and unique. Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple are good examples. So is another favorite of mine, Sherlock Holmes. Each one of these characters has been so well thought out that they seem as real as my own mother.
And have you seen the new versions of Sherlock? I love Jeremy Brett, from the older BBC shows. In my mind, he is Sherlock. He has the part down so perfectly, I couldn’t imagine these new Sherlocks ringing true. Was I ever wrong! They’re all great. Robert Downey, Jr. with Jude Law as Watson, the new BBC version with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. Each one captures the essence of Sherlock and Watson, but in a unique way.
As an author I’m intrigued by these modern day Sherlocks. It shouldn’t work. Sherlock Holmes and technology? Especially not three versions in such a short time span. Surely one of the three should have been a dud. But they all work. At least for me. What’s the key?
I think consistencies in the little details are what make a character ring true. A habit or flaw that they can’t hide, or aren’t even aware of. Think of Poirot’s meticulous actions, dabbing his mouth delicately with his napkin, grooming his mustache, and his penguin-like walk. Knowing the way your character thinks and speaks is very important. My son recently had to read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I read along with him and found myself envious at how real the characters had been portrayed through actions and dialog.
Understanding your character’s backstory is also crucial. Something that happened in the past might never make it onto the page, but it will affect how he or she reacts in different situations. For instance, in Guardians of Stone Jake Stone is a badass who was hired to protect Kendall Morgan, a relic expert with a sixth sense. Jake hates bones. He doesn’t mind dead bodies, but he’s very uncomfortable with bones. Kendall notices and wonders about it since he’s obviously no stranger to violence and death. There’s a good reason. It isn’t in the book yet, but it will play into the story. Knowing what Jake experienced off the page will help me make him stronger on the page.
The same with Nathan, the eccentric billionaire. He has lots of secrets in his past, some that even he doesn’t know. But I know them, so I can tweak his character to make it realistic. The importance of knowing your character’s backstory really hit home for me when I wrote a prequel to Awaken the Highland Warrior. Faelan is a highland warrior from the 19th century who was locked in a time vault for 150 years and woke up the 21st century. There were so many important things from Faelan’s past that I didn’t have time to show in Awaken. I could only do so many flashbacks, and since many of these things are important to the entire series and Faelan shows up in every book, I decided I needed more explanation. A lot more. So I wrote Faelan: A Highland Warrior Brief, a novella which explained the events leading up to his mysterious arrival in the 21st century.
I was surprised how much I learned about Faelan and his family and the warriors surrounding him in the 19th century. Even about the plot. It was one of the best things I’ve done for myself as an author. This has shown me that I need to know even more about my characters before I write their story. Whether you’re talking about Hannibal Lector or Forrest Gump, they need to be real. The readers want to hear them, see them, walk in their shoes. And I want my readers to remember my characters long after they’ve put the book down.
What’s the most memorable or realistic character for you? It can be from a book or a movie or TV show. I’ll give away an autographed copy of Guardians of Stone to one commenter.
Guardians of Stone is described as Indiana Jones meets Stephanie Plum. A feisty heroine with a sixth sense, and two sexy alpha heroes, a mercenary, and a dark, eccentric billionaire are on a hunt for four paranormal relics that could change their lives…and the course of history. This story has all the elements I love. Powerful relics, mysterious curses, catacombs, myths and legends, ghosts, and two alpha male heroes that the heroine will have to choose between. Another exciting thing about this series is that it’s gotten movie interest from some big studios. So I have my fingers crossed.
And for my readers who like their alpha males in kilts, find out how Faelan arrived in the 21st century in this prequel to Awaken the Highland Warrior.
Faelan: A Highland Warrior Brief. Faelan Connor was the most powerful warrior the clan had known, until a demon locked him in a time vault where he slept for 150 years while he waited to save the world and meet his destined mate. You know how his story ends. Now we’ll travel back to the 19th century and experience Faelan’s journey through his eyes. We’ll find out how he became the Mighty Faelan and if it’s possible that he met Bree before she was born. And for the first time, we’ll find out what really happened inside the time vault.
Awaken the Highland Warrior
Embrace the Highland Warrior
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Anita Clenney writes mysteries and paranormal romantic suspense, including the bestselling Connor Clan series. Before giving herself over to the writing bug, she worked in a pickle factory, a preschool, booked shows for Aztec Fire Dancers, and has been a secretary, executive assistant, and a real estate agent. She lives with her husband and two children in suburban Virginia. To find out more, please visit http://www.anitaclenney.com. Anita can also be found on Twitter @anitaclenney, and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/anitaclenneyAUTHOR.