Moments to Remember: D’s Character Origins

Part Two in the D/A Dialogues Origin Story – in response to the WordPress Weekly Challenge: Reflections.

Whenever I think of D's origins, I see these two images.

Whenever I think of D’s origins, I see these two images.

A: What is a character’s true origin story? Is it their personal history, or is it the story of how they came to reside in an author’s imagination?

D: Both.

A: Okay, which one would you prefer to tell?

D: I think, actually, it would be a better if we told the people how I came to live in your head, first. It started with that bookshelf you so lovingly carted across the sea.

A: Indeed it did. Take it away, D.

D: What A didn’t tell you was that she continued to write while she lived in Ireland. When she left university, and became a pub’s writer and web designer-in-residence, she dug out that dusty old manuscript and started editing it again. She even showed it to someone to read. He’s the one that introduced her to me. He’s A’s ex-husband, and he lives back across that sea. The Boy and I are all that remains of his time in our lives.

That was the first moment to define my life as a character – that introduction. A knew I belonged to the story.  I can’t tell you much about that time in his head. I was a different man. I was angry – more warrior than mystic. I was proud, yes, and skilled, but young.

A: You were also blonde.

D: I was?

A: Yeah. I read my original notes. Blonde warrior. Blue eyes. Tattoos. You were cold and cruel, too – with a massive chip on your shoulder. No wonder I didn’t like you.

D: Which brings me to the second moment that defined me as a character: being ‘gifted’ to a writer who may have appreciated me (for all her whinging, she did appreciate me, otherwise I would never have gotten anywhere near her precious manuscript), but did not understand me. To make matters worse, despite not particularly liking me, she stuck me in the book without really trying to find out how I fit. Yes, it was my story but there were certain things . . . missing.

Much of Changelings is not about the youth I had been – I had already been tempered by war and heartache by the time I step out onto the stage. As much as Changelings is an adventure story – a romp through time, as it were – it’s also about living with past mistakes, and creating a future worth living.

As A’s notes indicate, the me she met originally was not suited for that tale. She had to find out who I really was, and as life got in her way, she did not have much incentive to do so.

When she discovered the religious and political strife of seventh century England and Scotland – when she re-discovered many of the myths that were echoed in her work – she started to find me. Not only that, she wanted to find me. It was quiet, that desire, but it was there.

The final moment of my origin came relatively recently. I had existed rather quietly, I think, in A’s head for all those years. She never talks about the first-person narrative book she wrote – my book. It may not have gone past 100 pages, but she did write it. I won’t say she failed – she just wasn’t ready yet.

Then I started bugging her friends to make her start writing again—

A: True story – had a friend call me up and tell me she was dreaming about D, and perhaps I should start writing again? That was 4 years ago. I’m stubborn.

D: So am I. My persistence was rewarded, and though she didn’t write anything of note until last year, bugging her friends resulted in a redraft of the book outline. She revisited what she had written in my book and brought those elements into the story. I finally had a place – a real place.

Of course, A is still learning – we’ve hit a roadblock on some of the timelines for the sequel, but we’re working on it. We can do that now – thanks in part, to this blog. It’s ever so helpful to be able to snark at her in public. Cathartic too. Plus, she has the support of other writers. Without you, she’d be a hermit. And I don’t think a hermit would be as willing to get my life out onto the page.

Could you imagine this guy as a blonde?  (D as imagined by Green Embers)

Could you imagine this guy as a blonde?
(D as imagined by Green Embers)

A: Well, gee, D. That was pretty complimentary. Kind, almost.

D: I know. I’m not such a bad Druid after all, am I?

A: I suppose not.

D: In fact, I think I’m pretty spectacular.

A: I was going to say, just don’t let it go to your head, but I can see it’s already too late for that.

D: Go to my head? Whatever do you mean, woman?

A: Exactly – watch it, or I’ll make you blonde again.

D: You wouldn’t dare!

A: And I think that wraps up the origin story of a character–

D: A, we are not done here – promise me you won’t make me blonde!

A: Stay tuned for tomorrow’s exploration of D’s origin as a man. Have a great day–

D: A! Are you listening to me?

A: And thanks for reading!

D: A!!!

Part 1: A’s Writerly Origins | Part 1.5: Bookish Origins | Part 2: D’s Character Origins | Part 3: The Druid himself – an origin narrative

Moments to Remember: An Origin Story in Three Parts

life

Photos from the top: Some of those precious 30 books I carted to Ireland, me on the phone in Ireland (some things never change) and that cute kid I call, The Boy (11 years ago)! And behind it all, a printed beta-reader copy of Changelings.

The Daily Post had a prompt up yesterday that tied in beautifully with their weekly writing challenge: Reflections. What follows are the moments that define me. These moments are a part of the origin story of how I became a writer – or rather, the writer I am today. The writerly me of tomorrow may have a different tale to tell entirely.

The pre-history of me includes being the youngest of six by 15 years – essentially an only child – growing up on quite a few acres on the shores of Lake Michigan. I was late to reading and writing, but I always had an active imagination.

D: Active?! Ha! You thought you were Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and your best friends were the characters from Star Wars.

A: Yes, yes and I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I grew up . . . Hush, D. You’ll get your turn.

Anyway, I moved to Ireland when I was 18. Technically, it was to attend the University College, Dublin, but as I think I have mentioned to my parents in the years since, I had a cover story should that university thing fall through. I had letterhead and everything. I was going. No matter what.

I was a writer and had something resembling a web presence then, too. I had queried a few agents and publishers on a draft that shares three characters with Changelings. Theoretically, it’s the same story, but all that’s left of the original is Maureen, Sean and Grace O’Malley.

I had a few nibbles but nothing big and as I prepared to move myself, my 30 I can’t-live-without-them-Dad-please-pack-them-in-a-box-and-fly-them-out-with-me books 4,000 miles east, I completely forgot about the letter from the then-Penguin Group publishing house, asking for the MS.

Because I’m an idiot.

Or not. That was before D entered the story. That was before the story took real myths and turned them on their head. That was before it was ready to actually be read.

Ireland was an adventure. It was eye-opening, exhilarating, terrifying and life-altering. At one point, I refused to leave and let my ticket home languish in a drawer. So much of the life I’m living now started in Dublin. I was almost married there, and my son was thisclose to being born there, too.

Which brings me to the second thing that has defined my life as a writer: Motherhood.

I went back to writing after my son was born. During naps and semi-early bedtimes, I wrote what is now D’s back-story. Five hundred pages-worth of back-story. It was once a book, but no longer. One day I may revisit it, but I don’t have the same urge to tell that story.

Besides, I’m not entirely sure there is a whole lot of interest in the convergence of the centralized Roman vs. monastic Celtic vs. pagan religious traditions in a small clan of Picts, overshadowed by looming war with the Kingdom of Northumbria.

Have I ever mentioned that I was a history major? I like to research. It’s fun.

In the middle of child-rearing, and after that mammoth book was done, I stopped. I put it aside. Yes, writing in a way still defined me, and I loved to read and research, but having that yearning without the discipline to put it to practice, without the discipline to do something to improve my writing meant it was always going to be a pipe dream.

Until I sat down and decided it wasn’t. It was the third moment to define writerly me. I’ve talked about my journey back to writing before. It’s why this blog exists. Essentially, it boiled down to this: the threads of the story that is Changelings began when I was 14. I’ve had Sean and Maureen rattling around in my head for 20 years. That’s all of my fingers and all of my toes. It was time to give them a book worthy of their loyalty. When D joined them, they found an advocate. An annoying, egotistical, bull-headed advocate.

D: Oi, woman! Surely, I get to combat that last?

A: Of course you do – tomorrow. (And don’t call me Shirley.)

D: Tomorrow?! (Oh for heaven’s sake, A. That joke is so old.)

A: (Tee hee!) Yes – that’s why it’s an origin story in three parts. Tomorrow you’re going to tell us the three moments that have defined your life as a man.

D: And what’s the third part?

A: You sound like you don’t trust me, D.

D: I don’t. What’s the third part, A?

A: I want you to look at yourself as the character in my head. I talk about you as a character, and you talk about you in the story, but you never really quite manage to talk about you as a character. I want to know how you coped all those years, being in a book that didn’t want you – having an author that didn’t quite like you.

D: You talk about it as though it were the past, A.

A: It is, D. I think we’ve come to an understanding –

D: HA! I knew it! You like me.

A: Well, yes –

D: No, don’t deny it, A. You like me!

A: Who’s denying?

D: You weren’t denying?

A: No. I was going to say I’ve actually had some fun blogging with you – some good insights, too. I can go back to describing you as annoying and bombastic, if it will make your diatribe worth something.

D: Um. I might have you do that, A. I’m not entirely sure what to do if I’m not contradicting you.

A: (Eye  roll). Me neither, D. Me neither.

D: So, is that it? You’re just going to set this up to lead into tomorrow’s post?

A: Uh, yeah. I mean, I have a few things: Charles Yallowtiz’ new Legends of Windemere book, Family of the Tri-Rune is doing great, Helena accepted a Liebster Award and nominated us (and I accept your challenging questions, darling!), and the Green Embers’ Recommends editor spotlight on the lovely mistress of Readful Things Blog, Ionia, is live.

D: That’s it?!

A: I know, I know – I haven’t had time to trawl the interwebs for interesting and amusing fodder for our dialogue, so this is it. Tomorrow, perhaps?

D: Tomorrow it is, then.

A: Thank you all for reading – have a fantastic day!

Part 1: A’s Writerly Origins | Part 1.5: Bookish Origins | Part 2: D’s Character Origins | Part 3: The Druid himself – an origin narrative

A Date with A Druid, Part 2

Is D ready for the modern world of dating? Is the modern world of dating ready for D?

It started out as a desperate cry from lonely Druid – let me have a date with your character, 1WriteWay (Marie Ann Bailey), I promise I’ll behave. Yeah right, said the writers. Nevertheless, the date happened. Read on for the exciting conclusion to “A Date with A Druid” as D attempts to woo Mary, a contemporary woman in a series about three widowed cousins who start a private investigation firm.

Previously. . .

The Druid picked up the bouquet of roses and held them out to her. “Has your lover ever given you flowers as beautiful as these? Has his lips burned a kiss onto your hand, as I have. Oh, yes, dear lady, I felt you shiver with that kiss.”

Mary took another gulp of wine. She was going to have to have a long talk with 1WriteWay, her author. She studied her glass, wondering why it was empty so quickly and, more importantly, how to extricate herself from this large, overbearing, egotistical hunk of a man . . .

By Green Embers

By Green Embers

“Come, my lady – don’t tell me you haven’t wondered what it’s like to live outside the lines your writer has given you.”

He gestured to the gentleman behind the bar for another round. Mary twisted herself around to shake her head at the man but he was already gone. Damn. She turned back to D. He was still talking. Well, he certainly enjoyed the sound of his own voice, didn’t he? Too bad she did, too.

“She doesn’t give me – I mean, she’s very good at interpreting my story–”

“Don’t you want to feel for yourself? Feel alive in ways no one else can possibly imagine?”

Mary had a hot denial at the ready but paused. She lifted the new glass of Chardonnay and eyed D over the rim. He had a point.

But he was far too pleased with himself to give in.

She touched her lips to the glass – just a small taste this time. Her cheeks were already flushed with the heat of the alcohol and it would not do to let that heat encourage those ridiculously blue eyes any further than she already had.

“I suppose you can help me do that, then?”

A slow, wicked smile spread over the man’s face and his eyes drifted to her lips. A cool tingle of wine still lingered there and Mary resisted the urge to lick them.

This was not fair. What was it about Druids that made them special? Was it magic? 1WriteWay should have warned her to brush up on her history before allowing this date to happen. And that A – she had a lot to answer for, letting this man loose.

“Not magic, my lady – just several centuries of watching man’s progress and interaction with one another.”
“Oh.” Mary frowned. Had she said that out loud? She didn’t remember speaking. No more Chardonnay. “You know, you’re making this very difficult for me.”

“And what could I do to make it better for you? I do only wish to please.”

“Why is it when you say that, it sounds so . . . so . . . naughty?”

“Only if you wish it so, my lady.”

“Why, I  – Oh for heaven’s sake, put on a shirt.”

The Druid burst out laughing and Mary covered her cheeks with her hands. Her face was burning.

“Alas, all I have is a rag from my days as a pirate – I did not wish to embarrass you with my poor wardrobe.”

“Pirate?” Mary fanned her cheeks. Visions of swashbuckling heroes flickered through her mind.

No. No swashbuckling. No pillaging of her honor. No. No. No. Overbearing, that’s what he was. Overbearing, egotistical and . . . and . . . deeply affecting . . . No!

Mary gave herself a mental shake. Chauvinistic. Yes, that was it.

Perhaps his naked torso was better. “Maybe, um, you could just button up your coat,” she muttered.

“As my lady desires.”

“And stop with that – my lady this, my desires that. My name is Mary, and I would prefer you use it.”

D bowed his head. She couldn’t be sure, but she thought he was laughing silently. His eyes were far too merry for him not to be. Honestly, this was just too much.

“And what’s this about not wishing to embarrass me? Quite frankly D, I think you’re enjoying my discomfort far too much. My God, if Randy ever said—What? Why are you laughing?”

“Your lover’s name is Randy?”

“Yes?”

D was giggling into his stout. Giggling.

Druids shouldn’t giggle, Mary thought as she sipped her Chardonnay.

“I’m sorry, my lady – much of my life was spent in the British Isles,” he said. He was gulping at the air, trying to catch his breath.

“What does that have to do with it?”

“Oh well, it’s just that – excuse me – the word ‘randy’—“

God, he was snorting now. Mary rolled her eyes.

“The word ‘randy’ is slang for – for–” The Druid took a deep breath and managed to compose himself. He arched an eyebrow at her but the effect was lost in his ruddy face and the tears that were still coursing down his cheeks. “For the sexually excited – well, for you my lady.”

His smile turned into a leer and he reached for her hand again.

“Why, you conceited pig! You are the worst kind of – of man!”

Mary yanked her hand from his heated paw and bolted from her seat with enough force to rock the chair on two legs. D stared up at her and she thought she caught a glimmer of surprise in his face before the mask of suave confidence smoothed his features.

“I am the only kind of man—“

Before he could even finish the sentence, Mary smashed the bouquet of roses in his face and stomped to the door. Of all the—1WriteWay owed her for this, that was for damn certain.

But even as she reached the door, the Druid’s words echoed in her head. “Don’t tell me you haven’t wondered what it’s like to live outside the lines.” She paused, her hand wrapped around the handle. She did wonder.

Against her better judgment, Mary spared the Druid a glance over her shoulder.

Oh, for the love of—not only had the waitress rushed to his aid, but D was also smiling graciously at the barman as he stooped to clear the scattered rose petals. As she watched, D turned those deep bedroom eyes on the girl until she twirled her hair.

Honestly. Man or woman, it didn’t matter to that randy—Mary caught herself and grinned. It was funny – somewhat. Perhaps she should go home and teach Randy what his name really meant.

Woke up in love this morning

Good morning!

Good morning!

Well, not really – not in the romantic sense, at least.

I had a post all ready to go to A) dispute the Druid and his pompous proclamations, and B) analyze just why I am moping.

Instead, I chucked it out the window. To quote my favorite doppelganger: bored now.  Besides, the Druid is right (don’t tell him I said that – I’ll never hear the end of it if he finds out).

D: I heard that.

A: Oi! This is my spot. Sundays are my day!

D: Yes, but you seem to lose the plot when you start talking all by yourself. I’m just here to keep you on track.

A: Right. . .

D: And to help with the humor factor.

A: I wasn’t trying to be—

D: And that’s why you fail.

A: Oi, D!

D: Yes?

A: Fine, whatever. May I continue?

D: Be my guest, but keep it snappy, A.

A: I was going to say something about following my own advice and not take my characters – or myself – too seriously, but it seems rather beside the point, now.

D: Indeed. I think you need to limit your poignant posts to once-a-month. Any more than that and you might tax your sensibilities beyond their limit.

A:  . . .

D: I’m just looking out for you, A.

A: You’re just looking out for your book.

D: Yes, but for me, A, they are one and the same.

A: RIght, and on that note . . . take a gander at the page, my friends. I’ve added two links at the top. One is for “Other Fiction” and the other is “Defining the Dialogue.” The first is rather self-explanatory, but the second—

D: Why do we need defining, A?

A: You’ve said it yourself, no one else is inside my brain—

D: (Consider yourselves lucky – it’s a tough place to escape).

A: And Defining the Dialogues is a timeline of sorts for The Book. Oftentimes our dialogue centers on passages I’ve written. Decoding puts them in chronological book order –

D: Or as good as, considering it’s a time-travel story.

A: D, you’re not helping. Posts pertaining to Part 1 of The Book have all been listed. I’ll work on Part 2 this week, and since we have yet to post about Parts 3 and 4, those will go live as they happen.

D: You made it live without completing it!? A!

A: It was 2 in the morning, D – I wanted something to show for the insomnia!

D: She really needs to get out more.

A: And stop focusing on word count. Can I just say how happy I am going to be when July is over?

D: You and everyone else, A.

A: Cheers, D – good night all. Lifting a glass to fun snark, from here on out.

Guest Blog: Mood, Characters, & Chaos

While A is away, the blog is still going to play – enjoy this guest post from Charles Yallowitz, from Legends of Windemere. Please, visit his blog and enjoy!

So, I’ve been asked to do a little guest blog for D and A.  The topic is on how I interact with characters and how that alters or develops the story.  Now, I believe our interactions with our characters are one of the driving forces of our writing.  I’ve been ask by D and A to bring some friends to help explain this point.  I decided to bring Luke Callindor and Sari from Legends of Windemere, Clyde the vampire from a future project, and Sin the adventurous thief from another future project.

Darwin Slepsnor: I’m here too!

Me: This illustrates my point.  I didn’t want to bring Darwin, but he came here any way.  So, where should we start?

Sin: How we affect your mood would be a good start. You are rather emotional at times. As the one this group that has to wait the longest for his series, I get to watch all of you. You people really cross his wires at some points.

Luke: We don’t cross his wires as much as we used to.  It takes time and practice to be able to switch gears, especially when you’re working with multiple voices. A lot of aspiring authors seem to think it’s a natural ability to switch character mindsets, so they get frustrated when they see someone do it.  The truth is that you’re seeing years of mental practice at work, which the author might not even be aware.

Me: Very true.  At the beginning, I could only operate one character a day.  If I tried for more then they would bleed into each other.  This led to the story being altered and, ultimately, having to be rolled back.

Clyde: Like those times you tried to be me for half the day and the idiot boy-scout over there for the other half?  That was disgusting.  You made me act heroic and nice.

Luke: It wasn’t a picnic for me either.  I suddenly appeared with so much rage and bloodlust that I was like an evil twin.

Me: Yeah.  I got into a lot of trouble in those days.  So, practice definitely is needed to develop your character juggling skills.  There is still the issue of characters doing what they want and altering the story.  Sometimes this alteration requires me going back to the drawing board with the character and her subplots.  *looks at Sari*

Sari: I know, I know. I’m a bad little gypsy that gives you nothing, but grief.

Sin: At least you made it so that the rest of us can get away with things.  I can already think of a few things that I would want to do differently than he has planned.  We’ll discuss that when you FINALLY get around to outlining my stories.  I’ve been trapped in note land for years, which is why I don’t feel as loved as I used to.

Sari: Quit whining. I thought you dropped that persona when you went back to being a confident book character and not a whining D&D character.

Clyde:  He regresses like the rest of us.  All characters have their original personality, which can pop up from time to time if the author isn’t careful.  For some of us that’s a benefit because the old habits can fit our personality.  I fall back to being totally monstrous, which makes sense and can work.  Sin will need more practice and focus to leave that negative personality behind because it would damage his story.

Luke: A point in there that all authors should note is that your interactions with your characters will evolve them.  That smiling hero from book one might end up being a miserable, cold hero by the end of the series.  Not that I’m giving my author any ideas.  Where is he anyway?

Sin: As usual, he’s letting his characters run the show.  That’s part of his problem.  Early on, he tried to force us to do things that he wanted us to do or people suggested.  He didn’t listen and that caused conflict.  An author should never be in conflict with his or her characters.  The story suffers for that.

Sari: That’s something this one has trouble with.  I cause issues because he puts a little twist into me then gets huffy if I go along with it.  That’s why he pulls me into every conversation about runaway characters.  He does it to himself.

Clyde: Where is that idiot anyway?  He’s been quiet for a while.

Luke: Darwin disappeared too.

Sin: I think our author is asleep behind the couch.  Darwin got him and wandered off again.

Sari: Our creator is so unprofessional.

 

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Guest Post: A D/A Dialogue Roundtable Discussion

Hey, look at what we did! Thank you so much, Charles, for hosting D, Sean, and Maureen!

Legends of Windemere

(This is a guest post from the D/A Dialogues.  Thank you to Katie for writing this post and I hope everyone goes to follow her site.  Her posts are always informative and entertaining.)

A: Welcome to the D/A Dialogue Roundtable. First, I would like to thank our host, Charles Yallowitz for inviting us to be guest posters on his blog, the Legends of Windemere. This is an honor and I am really excited. So are the characters in my head! So thank you, Charles – this is wonderful!

We’ve been asked to discuss what it’s like handling multiple characters at once, especially when one has a strong, overpowering personality.

D: Who would that be?

A: (Eye roll) Gee, D. I don’t know.

D: Oh, you mean me? Thank you.

A: I’m not sure it was a compliment.

Sean & Maureen: Um, excuse us, but I think we’re supposed to be…

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