I am pleased to welcome Muriel Ellis Pritchett to my blog today. Muriel is here to talk to us about character creation as part of the blog tour for her YA novel, Not Myself Today. Many thanks to Muriel for taking the time to talk to us, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.
High school soccer star Lindsey Anderson was at the top of her game with graduation approaching and a full-ride soccer scholarship offer in her hand. Then she dropped dead on the soccer field, only to wake up in the body of a teenage sex-trafficking victim. No one believes who she really is. Not even her dad. Chased by her new body’s drug-dealing pimp and rabid parapsychologists out to dissect her, Lindsey searches to get her body and her life back before graduation day. Can her BFF and the high school nerdy boy she detests help save her life?
Someone recently told me – quite excitedly, I must say – that they knew who a certain character in my second book really was. I quickly assured him that the character was completely fictional. That all of my characters were fictional. Still, he walked off grinning like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.
Are your characters real people? How do you create your characters? Those are two questions I have been asked many times. They are right up there with “Where do you get ideas for your books?” and “I have a great idea for your next book. Would you like to hear it?”
All of my characters are made up of bits and pieces of real people that I know or have met at a party or spotted in the airport or somewhere else. I keep a notebook of interesting physical characteristics and personal flaws.
I usually start with physical characteristics like the colour of their hair or eyes. Do they have a beard or moustache? Are they bald or have a hairy chest? How is their hair styled? Spiked or shaved head or a man bun? Do they walk with a limp or stutter when they talk? Do they have any distinguishing features like freckles or a wart on the end of their nose or a dragon tattoo on their forearm? How are they dressed? Are they wearing dirty and worn T-shirt and jeans or dressed in country-club casual clothes or sporting a three-piece suit with bowtie? Is she wearing a spandex leopard-print mini-skirt and thigh-high faux-alligator boots or an impressive Christian Dior-designer original skirt and jacket?
Once I have some idea of what my character looks like, then I work on the personality and flaws. What makes them unique? Are they a narcissist or a womaniser or a bully? Do they have a raging temper or are they as cool as a cucumber or weak and frail? Milquetoast or overly aggressive? Do they have any phobias or issues? Are they afraid of heights or snakes or tall women? Are they superstitious or a brazen hussy or a risktaker or street savvy?
In my new YA paranormal thriller, Not Myself Today, I wanted a big contrast between Lindsey and Annabeth. Lindsey is a star soccer player. I looked through high school yearbooks to get a picture of a female athlete in my mind. I made her strong, solid, in great health, and smart with curly red hair and blue eyes. I made her 18 years old and graduating from high school with a full-ride soccer scholarship to Stanford. I wanted Lindsey to be from a fairly well-to-do family with a highly respected father in the science community. Life can’t get any better than this. Then she dies on the soccer field after kicking the winning goal for the state championship and wakes up in the body of Annabeth, a sex trafficking victim.
Annabeth is the opposite of Lindsey. She’s a 14-year-old runaway from a small South Georgia town. Her father, a farmer, died young. Her mother remarried a scumbag who abused Annabeth, causing her to leave home. I made her very skinny with a thick South Georgia accent, long, straight, dirty-blonde hair, hazel eyes, tattoos, and body piercings. For a stronger contrast, I turned her into a drug addict, which further complicated Lindsey’s new life in Annabeth’s body.
I enjoy creating unique characters for my stories. I probably spend as much time bringing my characters to life as I spend plotting out the story line. The next time you read a book, please remember that all characters are fictional and have been created from many bits and pieces to entertain the reader.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Muriel Ellis Pritchett graduated from the University of Georgia and began her journalism career while living in Japan and Germany. Her journalism career included playwriting, editing and writing for magazines and newspapers, and working in public relations, university relations, and media relations.
After retiring, Muriel’s family doctor recommended she get a hobby. So, she began writing fun fiction about feisty older women who had been wronged and had to pull themselves up out of the muck. But her award-winning fourth book, Not Myself Today, is a change in genres—a YA paranormal thriller. It is scheduled for release September 24, 2020. Her first three “fruity” books, fun romance for older women, are Making Lemonade, Like Peaches and Pickles, and Rotten Bananas and the Emerald Dream. She is currently working on another “fruity” book, titled Sour Grapes and Balmy Knight.
When not writing, Muriel loves cruising all over the world, eating good Belgian chocolate, and spending time in any Disney park. Her favorite Disney attractions are SOARING at Disney World’s EPCOT in Florida, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth at Disneyland Paris, Journey to the Center of the Earth at DisneySeas in Tokyo, and Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland in California.
Win a Signed copy of Not Myself Today (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.
Make sure you visit the other blogs on the tour to find out more about Not Myself Today.