Hi there - it is my absolute pleaure to welcome Jade A Waters to the Brit Babes as our special guest. I adore her work - and I'm sure you will too. Here she is with a fascinating insight into the characters in her new Novel, The Assignment...
Loving Your Characters
Jade A. Waters
Holy cow, am I excited to be here! I’ve been a huge fan of the Brit Babes for a long time, and when the fabulous Tabitha Rayne invited me to stop by, talk about a compliment. So, a giant thank you to the Brit Babes for having me over!
I’ve got to tell you, I’m extra enthralled to be swinging by today. I’m right in the midst of the blog tour for my new release, The Assignment. The book is the first in the Lessons in Control trilogy, and while it came out just last week, I’m way deep in the series. As in, I am days away from turning the final book in to my editor. *Happy dance* That said, right now seems like an appropriate time to talk about loving your characters. Generally speaking, I think it’s safe to assume we authors love our characters (one hopes, anyway)—still, affection for our darlings can occasionally pose a challenge when you extend their life over a full novel or, more so, into many books.
Let me be clear: I really, really, really love the heroine of my series, Maya Clery, as well as her romantic interest, Dean Sova. Maya is strong, independent, clever, and sassy as ever. She has a great life, but she’s also got a troubled past she’s had to work hard through, which means she’s got some grit to her. Dean has my affection, too; while we learn a hell of a lot more about him as we move into the second book, The Discipline, he’s done some solid living, and his charm, intelligence, and sex appeal is right there from the start. Their relationship begins as a playful exploration of a budding D/s dynamic between them—both of them having some experience, but not enough to fully call themselves “Dom” or “sub” from launch—and through the course of the novel and in turn the full series, they definitely grow into these roles and deeper in their love.
One of the things we as authors get to do is craft people, and in doing so, we get to give them a plethora of traits we either love or hate, or both. I’d venture to guess that evil/nasty/mean as they are, even antagonists get love from their author-makers. Those pesky instigators are serving a purpose, after all, throwing shade or creepy vibes that rattle our readers almost as hard as our protagonists. Between them and our good guys, we get to develop these people through back story and full character traits, and then mess with them in our godlike creative way, which is no doubt why we feel attached/akin/affection for them in some if not many aspects. It’s unconditional, this love—we adore them despite their capacity to ruffle our feathers. Which can be particularly interesting, considering we made them.
Take my male romantic lead, Dean, for example. When I started the series, I repeated over and over again that “I would so date this guy if I met him!” I crafted him with a good chunk of the traits I find sexy in a real life man (physically and mentally), and gave him a sprinkle of some deeper flaws (like you do)…but over the course of writing the series, I changed. My dating style changed. My taste changed. My maturity and experience in relationships changed. My kinks shifted. Dean was still hot as ever by the time I got to drafting book two—almost two full years after I drafted book one—but somewhere in that time frame, he was no longer my kind of guy. Oh, man. Did that make things interesting! We authors are always writing from some kernel of truth, sometimes a bigger kernel than others, but now the flaws I gave Dean actually got me ruffled enough here and there that I kind of wanted to smack him. We were in no way relationship material—which is pretty reasonable, considering he’s fictional and I made him and all that—but my affection for him morphed on occasions into the type I have for that hot guy at the gym. I admire his musculature. I want to talk to him because I’m fascinated by him. Sometimes, when I’m working out so hard that I’m hyperventilating and my brain is wandering into la-la land, I can envision dating him. I maybe even drool over him. But, I know we would never ever work…and now I’m playing puppet master with him and my heroine, Maya Clery. I can’t speak to how other writers do it, but I’m a bit of a method writer and get all up in my protagonist’s head for the run of the story…and I tell you, when we learned more about Dean during the series and those flaws started rising up, making the tension grow and grow like it tends to in a story, and then my Maya was getting frustrated with Dean?
Yeah, I was equal parts “But I love this guy” and “I am going to slap you, Dean. I’ll slap you [for Maya].”
Speaking of, I can’t skip over Maya. You know when you’re watching your best friend do something that has the potential to get her totally hurt in the long run, but you’re happy for her because she’s living an experience and learning things, and you know she’s got to make her own mistakes? That’s what I think it’s like to watch your prime character grow through a series. You’re rooting her on, but damn if you don’t flinch when she starts facing some hefty challenges and risking some big consequences. Unlike you do with your best friend, in a story, you have the luxury of purposely controlling her fate—but I won’t lie. I lost some sleep over Maya Clery. I fretted over her future, her past, her present. I remember talking to my mom about Maya’s deep personal struggles, for goodness sake. (And we wonder why writers are weird?) I think you get the picture…of course I love her, just as I love Dean, but over three books, there are bound to be moments of agony. Strife. Stress. What have I done making you beautiful crazy people and running you through all this brutal tension over the course of three books?
Fortunately, it works out in the end! Maya and Dean struggle and develop, as planned, and in the long haul, hell, just in book one, they become even stronger, better people. Bonus: I did, too. Didn’t matter if one of these characters or their sidekicks/antagonists/history/life drama/overall fate was wearing me down (through another round of insomnia or redrafting a scene for the tenth time because I just couldn’t get it right), I still adored them. I sat down ready to work on them and with them day after day, never mind the fact that I ripped off a couple fingernails and/or took on a weird habit of braiding my hair like a wood nymph almost every time I was rereading or thinking too hard. I did this because I love these characters of mine—romantic drama, differing interests, flaws, and all.
And you know what? I’d do it all over again.
I think that’s what we call true love. :)
Jade A. Waters is an erotica author and poetess in sunny California. A lover of candy, coffee, dancing, and endless karaoke, she is happiest when surrounded by words—be they on the page or shared in good conversation. Her short fiction and poetry is featured in over a dozen anthologies from Cleis Press and Stupid Fish Productions, and currently, Jade is hard at work finalizing the last book in the Lessons in Control series from Carina Press. Visit her at http://jadeawaters.com, or follow her at http://twitter.com/jadeawaters.
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