Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know

The above line was said of Lord Byron, and one lovely reviewer of Fledgling on Amazon said the same of my vampire, Will. Women are often attracted to the bad boys – they don’t necessarily keep them for long, but bad boys are the forbidden fruit who can tempt women to stray.

I adored writing Will’s character, although it almost seemed that he developed and grew on his own. I had enormous fun picturing his face in my head, then his hair, his eyes ... his build. I knew he would be tall – my husband is over six feet tall and I have a ‘thing’ for tall men! But once he ‘fleshed out’ in a manner of speaking, his personality was the next most important thing. I felt he needed a dry sense of humour ... he’d need it after all those decades on this earth. He would be ruthless, powerful and passionate. Also, let’s face it, after three hundred years, he’d know how to win a woman over too, or at least he did until he met Elinor!

A character clash is always fun to write, and I wondered what would happen if the very modern Ellie didn’t swoon at the elegant feet of the Vampire Elder of London as he expected her to. He wouldn’t be accustomed to rejection that’s for sure. Ellie’s character became the foil to Will’s old-world charm. She scoffs at him, turns him down, and leads him a fine old dance, which is how it should be. He, in turn, is bemused, angry, frustrated, yet totally besotted.

A man from Will’s era, particularly a member of the aristocracy, would have been used to everyone deferring to them at all times, and his character had to have moments when the 18th century Duke peeked through. I needed to show parts of the story from his point of view in order for that to happen, and for his occasional frustration at not understanding Ellie to become obvious.

I have lived side-by-side with Will and Ellie for a while, and they have become a permanent part of my life now, almost like old friends. I find I talk about them sometimes as though they’re real – which I suppose in my imagination they are! Will has actually become the Elder of London and he really does live in Highgate, North London. I know what he would say at almost any time, and I know what Ellie would retort back.

The dialogue between characters is what helps make them real in my opinion. It is so important to get right. I made a decision early on not to allow Will any contractions of speech, so he would always say, “I do not” instead of “I don’t.” It helped create the illusion of great age and his ‘Duke-ness.’ He is usually very courteous – except when he isn’t – and is totally unpredictable. Sometimes it has been difficult to rein him in, he’s a very forceful character after all, but thank goodness for Ellie!

Neither of the two main characters are based on real people, although I’m sure bits of my own personality comes out in them both. It’s inevitable I think. Some of the secondary characters in Fledgling have odd characteristics, some of which I’ve noticed in people I’ve met, liked or disliked, and I think that’s probably true of every author. Writers do tend to soak up atmospheres and personalities, which occasionally, pop up in varFont sizeious guises in their books. Having said that, none of my characters are based solely on one person, they are all a mish-mash of different traits and foibles I’ve observed over the years. Some good and some bad! I wanted all of the characters in Fledgling to shine, and to ring true in their own right, no matter how minor their part in the story. I hope I succeeded.

Excerpt of the part where Ellie begins to notice Will as something other than her oppressor.

Will led the way through the other cellar, to the door which I now knew opened onto the walled garden at the back of the house. We went out into the cold night. The dark sky was clear, with just a sliver of winter moon, shining bright and alluring. I stared up at it, feeling an affinity with her cold beauty. “It’s so beautiful.”
“As are you,” said Will.
Okay, who are you, and what have you done with Mr Spooky?” I responded to a compliment in my normal flippant manner, much to my own surprise.
“Is that who I am?” he murmured, and I twisted around to look at him.
The moonlight shone on his dark hair, and illuminated his pale chiselled features, accentuating the cheekbones. His eyes glowed with an ethereal light. I looked at him as he gazed down at me with those incredible eyes. Oh yeah, there was definitely something really spooky about him. His expression appeared softer than usual, which I found confusing, and I stepped away from him in sudden panic. His expression instantly became amused again.
What would it be like to be held throughout the night in those strong arms? The thought leapt unbidden into my head, followed by more treacherous thoughts…

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