9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.
Creating them? They create themselves and let me get to know them over a long process. It’s kinda like making a new friend. I can always feel a new Character before they actually appear – it feels like being anxious and creative with no outlet. That’s how I know there is someone new hanging around that I haven’t met yet. If they are shy it takes them a while to show their face (Mio, for instance, has never told me much about himself because he’s too shy, which is why I know he’s around but haven’t talked about him or his story here). Neona from the Top Secret Project left me feeling antsy and bursting with a story to tell back in December, but I didn’t know what the story was yet or who was trying to tell it until January. And once she did show up and start talking it still took me a long time to figure out what was going on in her world. It’s a slow learning process, just like with anyone you meet for the first time. And they have their secrets that they will keep, even from me. Gar’s big secret didn’t come out until seven years after I started writing Fie Eoin, and now I have to re-write the second half of the book because of it. Rebecca’s secret came out only when Lane read her journal and discovered it, and it explained a lot about why she is the way she is. And that’s the really strange part – as much as I wanted to think I created her, she would do things that didn’t make a damn bit of sense and seemed out of character… until I learned her secret and suddenly it all fit in perfectly. Of course, Rebecca’s really good at keeping secrets.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t choose which character to listen to based on who they are. I’ve been following Mio around for years trying to get him to tell me his story, and it turns out the real main character is his sister. It’s her story about him, told from her point of view. Same thing with Lane – I had been trying to tell Lane’s Girl from Rebecca’s point of view for years when I decided to try something new and tell it from his point of view, after her death. I wrote that book in 18 days. Sometimes you just have to find the right character instead of trying to create the character you want.
The best way I have discovered to find out who your character is? Throw them in together with one of your well-known characters from a different book. A cafe is a nice place to meet. And as they get to know each other you get to know them both.