Friday, 3 June 2016

Character: The Protagonists




So who are my protagonists and why do I want to write about them?

To answer this question I have to look at who they are.

Madison Bricot (Six Dead Men)
Neera Luxquaera (Where Rainbows Hide)
Petra Sucher (When Rainbows Cry)
Clarissa Henry (The Lonely Dragon)
Alanna Webber (Sharp Dark Things)
Rowena Deed (Palindrome)
Detective Inspector Robert Deed (Palindrome)

The first and most obvious thing to note is that all but one of my protagonists is female.  I’m not against a male protagonist.  I just understand what it is to be female and so write what I know.

Now time to take a closer look at my characters and why I create them.

Madison Bricot is an insecure young woman who has the ability to kill with a kiss.  If you rearrange the letters in her name they spell out the Italian phrase for ‘kiss of death’.  She was most certainly born out of my own insecurities and fears I’m sure.  When I look back at the things I wrote about her I can see much of my own personality traits written in to her character.  But she is not completely me.  She loves to read, as I do.  She likes visiting coffee shops and breakfast cafs.  As do I.   She keeps a journal.  I do not.  She constantly second guesses herself.  I do not.




Neera Luxquaera (her surname means seeker of light) is a very cool character and the embodiment of everything I would like to be.  Like me, she worries about the fact people will see through her because she lacks qualifications society deems important for success.  She’s courageous, impetuous, self-aware, a loyal friend and also rides a space age motor cycle.  What more could a girl wish for?




My latest creation, Petra Sucher, is pretty cool too.  She’s a teenager with serious scientific smarts.  I wrote Petra to assuage my guilt about being totally crap at Science.  But also to highlight how being brainy can set people apart and leave them feeling isolated.  I introduced a complex home life for her because I’m aware many young people today have responsibilities I would not have dreamt of coping with when I was a teenager.  Despite all the problems her world throws at her, she’s totally kick ass.



If anything, Clarissa Henry from my children's book is more me.  But me as I wish I had been as a child.  I was certainly the great reader and questioner she is but I was not as outspoken or confident.  And I found it incredibly difficult to make friends as I was extremely shy.  Hard to believe I know, but it’s true.  Clarissa is a great problem solver and this makes her the perfect companion to the lonely dragon Brueberon who sees only problems without solutions.  This trait I absolutely share with Clarissa.  I like to look for the answers to questions and find a way out of a messy situation.


As yet unpublished mega opus
Sharp Dark Things

Alanna Webber, from my ongoing as yet unfinished mega opus, is based on a very talented student I knew when I was a full time teacher.  The character and the student share their amazing artistic ability but this is where it stops.  We three: myself, the character and the student, are all only children.  This is done by design.  There is an isolation attached to being an only child which one either learns to cope with or bends under the yoke of it.  



The creation of Alanna is most definitely a reaction to the death of my mother.  I needed some way of processing the event.  The plot deals with how her mother’s death affects Alanna and what her coping mechanisms are.  In fact the entire book is an exploration of how different personalities deal with grief.

The penultimate character on my list – Rowena Deed – spoke to me in a dream and I had to dash out of bed to write her words down immediately.  In an edited version, those words are now Chapter 1 of my work in progress, Palindrome.  She is an amazing woman with psychic powers.  Her history is complex and only hinted at. Misunderstood by the majority of people around her, she is a woman born in an era where her gifts are misinterpreted.  But her main traits are compassion, inner strength, her desire to be inclusive and her deep love for her son.  Rowena’s character embodies beliefs I hold dear.


Robert Deed, the aforementioned son, is a character as complex as his mother.  This complexity stems from his own psychic abilities which he must either accept or reject.  He shares Rowena Deed’s non-prejudicial nature but is constantly at war with his inner self.  Like me: he is solitary, a lover of all things Italian (except Berlosconi and the Mafia), has a fondness for whisky with ginger ale and enjoys puzzling out the solution to dilemmas.



As already mentioned, Robert is my only male protagonist to date.  I wrote him because I felt I already knew who he was.  But whenever I take his chapters to my writing group I always wait for the criticism that he doesn’t feel masculine.  Thankfully thus far this has not happened.


Ultimately, all my characters have little bits of me in them.  But I also draw from the characteristics of people around me.  So the personalities of my protagonists become a hodge podge of many different people I’ve encountered in my life.  I think this will continue as characters now popping into my head are most definitely people I’ve met and come to know recently.


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