By N.J Simmonds, 7th May 2020

What Came First – the Writer or The Character?

When a Character Chooses Its Writer

When a Character Chooses Its Writer

‘So how do you create your characters?’ my friend asked me the other day.
‘What do you mean?’ I replied.

She looked confused. Clearly, she didn’t think it was a complicated question.

‘Your characters. In your books. Where do they come from? How do you choose them?’

Then I realised why her question didn’t make any sense to me. Writers don’t choose their characters – characters choose their writers.

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Much like cats, when a character presents itself to a writer then the writer has no option but to accept that character, feed it and give it a home. Characters are parasitic by nature. They can’t live without a creative host, an author, who nurtures them inside their imagination and helps them grow until they are fully born into a story and safely nestled among the pages.

This may seem far-fetched and somewhat poetic to you – but ask any writer what it’s like to have a cast of dozens of people inside their head. They’ll rarely say it’s a pleasant experience. It’s certainly not a situation they are fully in control of. A writer will say it’s crowded in there, it’s loud and messy and the bastards refuse to leave until they are made real. Our characters live inside our imagination, banging and shouting and chipping away at our aching heads until they are set free into a story. And like any good parasite, once strong enough they will finally figure out how to make their way from the mind of their host to the minds of thousands of readers.

Because a good character lives forever.

Luci, the star of my sequel Son of Secrets, was never meant to be the star. Zac and Ella are the star-crossed lovers after all – Luci was merely a supporting role. She was meant to just be Zac’s mother.

“Characters are parasitic by nature. They can’t live without a creative host..”

Then the bitch arrived and there was no way of putting her back in her box.

So how did Luci come about? She started off as a voice – a velvet voice, beguiling and bewitching, daring me to write her. From there Luci grew like a strangling vine, dark and relentless, sprouting from important questions such as ‘What would become of a woman if she’d been searching for her son for two thousand years? And what if she had unimaginable powers?’

Luci grew from pain. From anger. From retribution. Luci is what two millennia of forgotten women look like. I know what it feels like to misplace my child for less than a minute in a busy supermarket, but I can’t imagine the horror of having my child ripped from my arms by my enemy, never giving up my search for him, all the while the perpetrator convincing humanity to see me as the devil herself.

“She started off as a voice – a velvet voice, beguiling and bewitching, daring me to write her..”

That’s why Luci is so…different. I don’t like the term ‘strong women’ because every human being is strong in their own way, but I did want Luci to be complex. Multi-layered. Troubled. Intriguing. She’s powerful and sexually dominant, yet also fragile and volatile. She’s a mother, but she’s also called a witch, a whore, evil. She’s every woman who has ever had the audacity to say no.

I wanted a character who left the reader torn. Much like what Luci did to me, I want my readers to be rooting for her while questioning their own morals. Because Luci is not ‘good’. She’s a woman with unwavering intentions who does bad things for the right reasons. So, is that OK?

To go back to the original question about how I choose my characters, the answer is I don’t. They choose me. I outline my story, a simple ‘what if…?’ scenario, and the characters come along and settle down inside my head. I then speak to them, watch them, let them grow large enough to put them on a page, and then I let them get on with it.

You think someone as lowly as me could tell Luci what to do within her own story? No way. Once I knew who Luci would be and what she had to achieve, she wrote her own story. As Zac and Ella battle with external forces stopping them from being together, Luci battles her own demons. Her past, the future, and a burning desire for revenge.

I’ll never apologise for having brought about this character (although I know many readers are going to be upset by her), so all I’ll say is brace yourselves. Whether you like Luci or not, whether you agree with her actions or not, I promise you won’t forget her.

And isn’t that what every character wants? To be unforgettable?

About the Book:

Ella has been waiting for Zac for three years. She’s convinced he’ll return for her, but fate has other plans. When Josh is thrown back into her life, Ella has a choice: step back on to her rightful path, or wait for the one who dared her to rebel.
But Ella’s not the only one missing Zac. Luci has been searching for her blue-eyed boy over two millennia and will stop at nothing to get him back. Even if that means hunting down the only girl he ever loved.
From Tuscany 5BC to 17th century witch hunts, Ella, Zac, Luci and Sebastian’s lives have been forever intertwined. The time has finally come to complete the circle.
In a fight against destiny – who will win?

If you would like to know more about “Son of Secrets” – you can follow the blog tour which starts on MAY 28th. With reviews, interviews, and reveals, there is much more to find out about Luci, Zac, and Ella. Check out our blog tour buddies here.

‘Son of Secrets’ is the second book in The Indigo Chronicles fantasy series. For lovers of Dan Brown, The Time Traveller’s Wife and Outlander, author N J Simmonds weaves a thrilling, gritty and passionate tale spanning two thousand years and many lifetimes. Can love ever be stronger than fate? In a fight against destiny, anything can happen.

Don’t forget to PRE ORDER your copy of ‘Son of Secrets’ here on Amazon

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