Hello again, RomCon; thanks for having me back.
This is mainly about “The Evil and the Fear”, but it’s also in answer to comments and questions from readers, some of which can be found in Goodreads reviews.
“To see yourself as others see you” (Burns)
Wow... the chance to see the madness of the world through the eyes of a unique seventeen year old woman. What writer would not be passionately infatuated with the idea?
Readers of “The Evil and the Fear”(TEF) and “Expect Civilian Casualties”(ECC) (Plus a few short stories from garybonn.com and writerlot.net) have asked me why I sometimes choose unusual people as main characters.
These reasons give the writer some wonderful challenges. Writers, like actors, have to become their characters. How would Beatha close her curtains, walk downstairs (yes, unusually), cope with a man who offers vital support – but is also scary, deal with people who could appear cruel and monstrous at any time? More important: how does she deal with the person she trusts the least, and frightens her most – herself?
How would Beatha think, talk and act when over-stressed, paranoid, terrified, or falling in love?
As I said – wow.
Jason in ECC was a little easier, but only just. It took me about 16 days to think like him; Beatha took another few days.
Lesley, in TEF, is a person I’ve seen suffering in too many people. There’s a Lesley in all of us. We can’t look after our own – only the Lesley in other people: caring for our own is someone else’s job.
Another reason to choose unusual characters is the vivid and intoxicating experience of being someone other. Lol, and the chance to escape from yourself! Seriously, it’s like going on an adventure holiday.
So, take your characters, give them a situation, and sit back while they react to it, themselves and each other. Health warning to writers – brace yourself.
I’m not sure if this is true, but if the writer is stunned and intoxicated by the experience, then the reader is likely to be. And that’s who writers write for – readers.
So why Jason and Beatha?
That’s a really good question. Bear with me, I’m writing this from the heart and sometimes it doesn’t like to talk to me quite as openly as I’d like.
Right, I’m trying to share with the reader something precious I was given by other writers. At about the age of eight, I read “Moomnvalley in November” (Jansson). Much later I read “Titus Groan” (Peake) and “Round the Bend” (Shute).
Jansson has been an inspiration to me in so many ways. I can’t think of a writer who had a fraction of her impact on me – but she did explode into my life at an impressionable age.
These authors were immersed in their characters. Let’s put that another way, they became their characters.*
I want to give readers a chance to be another person, or be able to almost touch and speak to them. To have them as friends, role-models (or the opposite – Steerpike, lol), to have them forever. I count: Snufkin, Titus, and Connie Shaklin as old friends.
Why Young/New Adult as a genre?
I was responding to teenage friends, who after reading Y/A like, “The Fire Eaters” (Almond), were dismayed at endless vampire romances. A few were OK, but... you know...
Also Young/New Adult is accessible to people above those ages.
Why set it in Scotland?
The earliest stone and wooden circles arose in Scotland. The inhabitants were called “The Tattooed people”, Beatha (pronounced Bay-ah), means “Life” in Gaelic. It really wouldn’t have been appropriate anywhere else.
OK, I love Scotland. It’s hard to walk through its glens, over it’s craggy summits, watch the waves crashing among vertical cliffs, gaze into the turquoise depths, and not be surrounded by the ancient myths and magic.
Fine. Visit the Callanish Stones, via Uig and Cape Wrath... ;)
A huge thanks to all those people who have reviewed/commented or contacted me regarding TEF. Your lovely comments are what keep me busy.
Yes, there are more books ready to enter the editorial process. Firedance Books Ltd will probably publish another this year. If I’m really lucky, they may squeeze two in. It’s a long process, but worthwhile.
If they publish two, that leaves only six ready for them! I’ll have to get busy. :D
Maybe I’ll be back in a while. See you all then.
*“What a miracle is a human, to be what s/he wills to be!”: Oration on the Dignity of Man (Giovanni Pico della Mirandola) This is an edited quote.