Thank you, Quills and Inkblotts, for having me back!
We’re glad to have you back on! Thanks for guest blogging with us again. We can’t wait to read this amazing character interview!
Today I want to talk about one of the best ways to write three-dimensional characters, and get inside their skin. Sorry, I didn’t mean to go ‘Silence of the Lambs’ there. But as writers it’s our job to put breath into the lungs of our characters, to spark the synapses of our heroine’s brain, and bring to life the world through the lens of our hero’s eyes.
I like to take it a step further and ask myself an all-important question in this process, too, but I’ll get to that.
Here’s a glimpse of my contemporary romance WIP and an interview with my heroine, Allora MacCallum, a thirty-something disillusioned dreamer:
Reeling from her husband Brody’s affair and the death of her beloved grandma, Allora sets off on the adventure of a lifetime to fulfill her and her grandma’s Dearest Dream Lists. Once in Europe, she’s not sure checking off the items on her and her Grandma June’s lists will heal the wounds of her past, or leave her searching for more.
Meanwhile, Brody MacCallum sets off on a journey of his own to win Allora back. He is tasked by Grandma June, perceptive even through her illness and subsequent death, to deliver postcards of love and wisdom to Allora along the way. But they just may be the words he needs to hear as well.
While his wife chases her dreams, Brody is chasing Allora, but the shame and pain of their past is stalking them both.
I’ve found early twentieth-century, French author, Marcel Proust’s questionnaire to be quite enlightening as I try to get at the core of my characters. There are 35 questions. Don’t worry, I won’t do 35. Goodness, we’re not interviewing the Dos Equis guy here.
Me: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Allora: *Wistful glimmer in her blue-green eyes.* At first thought, I’d say freedom to live out all the things on my Dearest Dream List. They are a part of me, as much a part of me as my Grandma June, who encouraged me to dream big. In all honesty though, having the love and trust Brody and I used to share back in our relationship and becoming a mom would be the true key to my happiness.
Me: What do you fear most?
Allora: Uh, do I have to narrow it to just one? *Bites at her battered pinky nail. Draws a juddering breath.* I have a boatload. I’m terrified Brody is going to find out what I’ve been hiding. I’ll never have his forgiveness, let alone a perfect God’s. I’m scared to live life without the rock, the voice of reason—my grandma—rooted as the flagstone of my life. I’m scared these dreams aren’t going to fulfill me like I thought. That I’ll never be a mother and God is punishing me through the loss of our baby because of what I did in the past. And I’m scared I’ll never feel Brody’s arms and the security of his love wrapped around me again.
Me: What is your most treasured possession?
Allora: Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. My Dearest Dream List journal my Grandma June gave me as a child. We both had one and added to the list every year.
Me: What do you most dislike about your appearance? (Adding: What do you like most?)
Allora: Whew, you’re really going there after I just turned *mumbles a number*? Fine, have it your way. I wouldn’t mind being a bit taller. At only five feet, even grocery shopping can turn into an episode of American Ninja Warrior. I also could do with a few less lumps needing spandex for a night on the town. But I do like my strawberry-blonde hair, or rosy gold as Brody always said.
Me: What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Allora: You are not making this easy, are you? *Jaw tightens, but a flush of color to her cheeks coaxes a reluctant smile.* Brody. Always, Brody. I was drawn to his strength, his smile—who could resist those seafoam green eyes and dimples—his sense of humor, who he was and wanted to be as a college freshman. I fell head over heels when I heard him sing. I couldn’t wait to marry him, but I kept something from him and after some great years, things started to fall apart with fertility issues, a tragedy at Brody’s work, my grandma’s failing health, and finally Brody having an affair. Now I’m not sure a marriage that broken can ever be mended, nor my heart.
Now, a question to myself:
Me: What part of your struggle do you want to share through this character?
Me: Thanks for asking Me, that’s a great question. 😉 This one came organically through the story— the sense that I’ll never be good enough. I’ve always wrestled with this. I’m not good enough for God. He can’t forgive me when I constantly mess up. I’ll never write well enough, let alone great enough, to be noticed. I’ll never have a big enough platform or the right connections to make it. Or be a good enough wife or mother or housekeeper or a myriad of other things I tell myself, which hold me back from the fullness of God’s love and purpose for my life. I hope that through the pages of this love story I can tell God’s redeeming love story for each of our lives.
Prodigals unite! Come as you are. I’d love to dialogue more about characters, the writing journey, and God’s grace threaded through our lives.
How do you prepare your mind and heart to write the characters you love? What questions do you ask to get at the beautiful, ever-complicated center of your heroes and heroines?
Thank you, Mollie, for sharing your character interview with us. Allora sounds fascinating!
For as long as Midwestern gal, Mollie Rushmeyer can remember, she has been fascinated with the written word and storytelling. As a young girl, she often dreamed up exotic, mostly melodramatic, stories and poems while sitting under (or in) some tree that thankfully will never see the light of day. Her deepest and most fervent dream of becoming a writer only ever uttered to her childhood cat.
As she got older (not old, mind you) the dream of writing a novel swelled within her, threatening to suffocate her if she didn’t do something about it.
Now she spends her days chasing her two amazing, spunky daughters around, and every spare minute writing the characters she’d love to meet, hoping others will too. She writes novel-length contemporary inspirational romance, women’s fiction, and short stories as well as lives out her Lois Lane fantasies by writing for several local newspapers.
On this prodigal journey, she seeks to spread God’s love through stories of messy regular people just like her, who are saved by grace. She’d love to have you along for the ride.
You can connect with her on:
Don’t forget to answer Mollie’s question above in the comments below! Can’t wait to read your answers. Have a blessed day.