A Character with More to Give

Join me today in distracting author Jennifer Ross (Jen McIntosh) as she awaits a verdict from The Fantasy Inn on her #SPFBO7 novel Blood of Ravens.

Jen is a self-proclaimed plotter who is used to her characters behaving as expected. She blames her time as an Olympian athlete for Alexan’s unprecedented brashness. Read on to find out why.

An author saying they have a favourite character is a bit like a parent admitting they have a favourite child, so while I won’t go as far as to say that Alexan is my favourite character, he is definitely my favourite POV character to write.

Which is ironic, when I consider he started off life as a supporting character, and a disturbingly one-dimensional one at that. He served a purpose, and that purpose was to further the plot. But then he became a love interest and required further fleshing out and, over time, as I developed his backstory and explored his past, I began to realise that he had far more to give. To the point where he took over the narrative and became the POV character for that storyline.

I’ve seen other authors talk about characters who just insist on taking centre stage, which isn’t something I’m familiar with. I’m a plotter, through and through, so my characters tend to do as their told. But equally well, in my other line of work (high performance sport!) I’m used to constantly reviewing and challenging the status quo in pursuit of improvement and looking back on it now, it feels like Alexan took those opportunities to present his case. To explain to me why he was the better choice for narrating that storyline.

And, true to character, he wasn’t far wrong.

Because one of the things that fascinates me is perception, and how two people can be presented with the same information and come to two opposing conclusions. How we see the world is shaped by our experiences and how we process information through that lens is what shapes our reality. As I came to understand Alexan’s experiences and figure out how they informed his perceptions, I realised he presented me with a great opportunity to explore the other side of my world.

The fact is that nobody ever thinks they are the bad guy, and a good villain is one with a good motivation – and by that I mean clear and/or logical motivation, at least to their mind. I first started building this world in my mid-teens, when life was simple and conflict in books didn’t need to be any more complicated than good versus evil. But when I came to revisit this world nearly a decade down the line, my understanding had changed and I wanted that to be reflected in my writing. Alexan provided the perfect opportunity to do that. I love the complexity of his backstory and current predicament, and the nuance it offers me as a writer – but most of all, I just love spending time in his head. He’s a grumpy git with a big heart, and that’s a lot of fun to write.