One of my favorite parts about writing, other than the actual writing itself, is getting to create characters. Sometimes creating them is easy. I’ve always known exactly how AnnaLydia was going to look like and how she was going to be personality-wise. But sometimes creating them is actually really hard. The character of Etae, for example, was one of those hard characters. She started out as a goody-two-shoes on a council dominated by men before ending up as devious double agent who spied on said council and sold them out to the ‘bad guys’. Yep, she was one tough character to create. Even though she, and many others, were challenging to create, I still had lots of fun creating them.
But I suppose part of that fun evolves from being able to fully flesh these words on paper into full realized people. They aren’t just characters to me. They have names, they have personalities, they have friends and enemies, crushes and loves, they have quirks and they have a history. They aren’t there just to serve a purpose in the plot (well, maybe just a little). They have lives. Good or bad or in between, they have reasons and motivations that guides their actions even if the readers aren’t always aware of them. Actually, sometimes, I’m not fully aware of their motivations until later on when either I’m thinking about it or inspiration suddenly strikes. Usually, inspiration strikes at really bad, inopportune times, but that’s another story. For example, there’s a character who has bright orange/red hair. AnnaLydia has dubbed this character ‘carrot-head’, something he (obviously) despises. But not for reasons that one would think. He doesn’t mind being called a carrot. Well, I mean he does, but that’s not the reason why he hates the name. I wrote the entire draft of Starling not knowing why he hated that name. Then, when I went to flesh out his character for the next round of editing, I realized/came up with/discovered the reason. No one in his family has that hair color. Nobody. And while today we all know that red hair is recessive and can appear even if no one else five generations back has it, back in the world of medieval fantasy, no one knew this. They thought red hair was evil and unnatural. So for his entire life, he was bullied and looked down upon because of his red hair. No wonder he’s a little touchy!
When I create characters, one of the most frequently asked questions is something along the lines of, “Do I take people and put them into my books?” Well, no. And yes. I don’t just pick up a person I really like and just plop them into my book as a character. But if someone has a good trait that I really like or admire, I might use that. My siblings and I like to banter a lot and I tried to have several characters who like to interact with each other the same way. But I didn’t take my siblings nor myself and use us as characters. Just the tendency to banter. So no, if you read my stories, you won’t find yourself in it.