Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm A People Person

Maven Darcy BurkeFirst, I want to thank everyone for their congratulations! I'm just thrilled to be a Golden Heart finalist!

After I finished Her Wicked Ways, I, gasp, read a book (my overcrowded to be read shelf actually thanked me). With so many to choose from, I wasn't sure what to pick up, but ultimately decided on Betina Krahn's The Book of True Desires, which won the Rita last summer for best short historical. I've never read anything by Ms. Krahn, but was curious about its "Rita-ness."

I loved this book with the fire of a thousand suns.

I'll admit that's it's sometimes hard for me to enjoy books as much as I used to now that I'm a writer. I might pay too much attention to craft or start thinking about my own WIP. (Which is one reason I don't read as much as I used to. While I'm working on my ms I often find reading something else distracting, both from my WIP and the book I want to enjoy.) The Book of True Desires was one of those books that made me sad to finish. I slowed down as I got near The End in order to savor every moment. When I finished, I asked myself, "Why did I love this book?* Why do I love any book that I love?"

I thought about this for awhile. And, for me, it's characters. That's it. Period. Characters. I loved the hero and heroine in this book (yes, with the fire of a thousand suns). They could have read me the Gettysburg address and I probably would have loved it just the same (okay, I might be exaggerating a little bit). But Krahn created such real people - yeah, that's it. The answer isn't characters, it's people. All of the books I love, love, love are populated with people. People I like or dislike, love or hate, people I want to spend time with, people I grow to care about (or want to see brought low), people I want to see happy. And when I hit The End, I feel sad because I want to know what happens to those people beyond the happily ever after.

As I prepare Glorious and Her Wicked Ways for the real world (yikes, my babies!), I find myself really thinking about the characters, er the people. I've been rereading Glorious the past few days and I really do love Leo and Tess like they're my friends. I want to know what happens to them after The End (and I hope an editor out there feels the same way!). So as I put the final polish on Her Wicked Ways, I'm thinking about how Miranda and Fox can lodge their way into your consciousness and maybe even your heart (they're already in mine, of course).

What are one or two of your all-time favorite characters (doesn't have to be romance - I strongly believe the Harry Potter books are so popular because of the characters people)? Is there anything you do for your own WIP to craft memorable/lovable/empathizable characters?

*Note to Maven Erica, this book has machetes.


Erica Ridley said...

Note to Maven Erica, this book has machetes.

LOL. I [heart] machetes AND Betina Krahn!!!

And I agree with you re: people. My dad's two fave characters, for example, are Monk (TV Show) and Serge A. Storm (books by Tim Dorsey). Both have him literally rolling off his chair (granted, when he goes outside to read, my lawn chairs are rickety) and he likes to quote them in later conversations. Them, not the show/scene. I'm pretty sure he'd gladly watch an episode of Monk Goes To The Grocery Store or read a chapter about Serge defending "psychopath" as a valid dayjob to a kindergarten.

And the funny thing about those examples is that I think he likes Monk because he always knows exactly how Monk's going to react in any given situation, and I think he likes Serve because he never knows how Serge will react in any given situation.

But either way, they're people to him, not characters... Can't wait to hear other MaveFaves share their tips in tricks on achieving this quality in our own WIPs!

B.E. Sanderson said...

First off, congratulations, Darcy! Sorry I missed it when you announced, but my computer was acting squonky. Way to go!

I know what you mean about your characters. Mine are like people to me, too. I try to write people I would like to meet in real life, people whose company I would actually enjoy, and who would enjoy mine as well. =o)

Keira Soleore said...

w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t!w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t!

I'll come back when I have something semi-coherence to say. Right now, I can't think beyond WTG Darcy!!

Bill Clark said...

And when I hit The End, I feel sad because I want to know what happens to those people beyond the happily ever after.

Me, too! And you know, you're absolutely right - it's the people we remember in the books we love best. Long after plotlines and incidents and even snappy snippets of dialogue have faded into the mists of memory, the people remain.

Trevor and Daisy, where are you? (Yes, tooth fairies are people, too!)

Lady Leigh said...

Congrats, Darcy! I read that you finaled, only to find you have an agent! How exciting!!!! I am so happy for you!

Hellie Sinclair said...

Oh, all of the HP people. I love them all!

The Earl of Mayne in Pleasure for Pleasure (and the other books preceding his story. I just adored him.)

Acheron from the Dark-Hunter series; I'm so glad his book is coming out this summer.

And my favorite Betina Krahn book is The Last Bachelor. Talk about character...and being sucked into a story. My absolute favorite, though everything she writes is beautiful.

And congratulations again on finaling! That's so exciting!

Kelly Krysten said...

I'm surprised Hellion missed mentioning it, but I love the Pirates of the Carribean
I also love the people on the show Bones and House.
Great topic! And congratulations again Darcy!

lacey kaye said...

Darcy, I know you're going to kill me because you're out of town right now with choppy internet service, but I'm dying to know your final verdict re: what it was about this book that made those characters people to you.

*waits patiently for Maven Darcy's return*

Anonymous said...

LOL, Lacey. We can't get Internet at the campground anymore, but we're sitting in the McDonald's PlayLand while the Burkettes pick up too many germs (I hate these places) and there's wifi. Yay!

I don't want to spoil TBOTD, but I can say the hero's and heroine's GMCs were incredibly well-defined. And the hero is just so deliciously different. I don't want to give anything away! Suffice it to say that I was rooting for both of them immediately. (Lacey, I'll loan you the book!)

Thanks again everyone for the congrats!


Tessa Dare said...

First, sorry I missed the squee-fest yesterday! Belated congratulations to you, Darcy!

I think it's the ultimate authorial accomplishment when a writer creates a character who becomes a part of the public consciousness and has life and influence beyond the pages of the book. Like Harry Potter. Or Holden Caufield. Fanfic is on my brain because I just wrote an article about it, but I think it takes characters with enormous depth and "people-ness" to support fan fiction.

My own test for how much I like a book is, would I want to invite these characters over for dinner? If I can imagine spending an amusing evening with them, drinking wine and chatting over cassoulet or whathaveyou, that's how I know they've crossed the line from characters to people with me.

Diana Peterfreund said...

I don't know, Tessa, I don't have to like characters for me to like reading about them. I don't know if I'd want Dexter over for dinner, for example. Nice as he might be.

LOVE Betina Krahn. Love the hero of her book. I was not at all surprised when this one won the RITA.

Tessa Dare said...

Oh, Diana - I didn't mean to say they have to be likable, as in admirable. It's more about whether the characters interest me. Are there questions I'm dying to ask them? Do they have enough depth to sustain a whole evening of conversation, or will they just shout "All women are whores!" over every course...?

There are plenty of villains I'd love to have over for dinner. A lot of villains are great conversationalists. I'd just, you know, chain them to the chair and do careful menu-planning. :)

And of course, there are plenty of "admirable" heroes and heroines I couldn't be arsed to serve Easy Mac, because I know they'd have nothing of interest to say.

Linda said...

From my childhood the character that stayed with me was Beauty/Belle from Beauty and the Beast, because she saw past the ugly shell to the good "man" beneath. Excellent lesson for a child and not to be forgotten by an adult. Some book characters that have been memorable were Chanur from C.J. Cherryh's Chanur saga; Clint and Jenna from Sara McCarty's Promises Prevail; Michael Valentine from Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.

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