Today we are welcoming guest author Michelle Levigne. Michelle is giving away a copy of her novel, Odessa Fremont. Details for the contest are at the end of her post.
History can be fun — especially when it takes over!
by Michelle Levigne
Show of hands: how many authors have experienced the headaches and fun of characters taking over? The fun: when characters are so real the book writes itself. The headache: when characters are so real they dig their heels in and refuse to cooperate with the plot.
“I would never do that! I would only do that if I were TOO STUPID TO LIVE!”
Ever have that happen?
Sometimes my characters become so real they demand I tell their stories that happened BEFORE the book I’m currently writing. *sigh*
This month’s release is The Blue Lotus Society, from Desert Breeze Publishing. It starts with my heroine, Odessa, a Pinkerton agent, perched in the rafters of a museum’s warehouse, guarding a shipment of Egyptian artifacts. Later in the book she remembers how she became a Pinkerton. Then she runs into people who know more about her history than she does — so I need to explain why Odessa has been living by her wits since she was fourteen, and why people who wanted to help her couldn’t find her. I ended up with a fully detailed backstory that demanded — loudly, painfully — to be told.
Characters’ histories explain why they act the way they do, how they got to the story’s opening, and give them baggage to deal with. Exploring that history helps us as writers make these characters three-dimensional. It can also lead to some problems with plot in the current work-in-progress. In writing Odessa’s back story, Odessa Fremont (today’s book giveaway) I set up events that contradicted things she was supposed to learn, or tell people in BLUE LOTUS. *sigh* Tip: Keep a detailed notebook. It saves time later when you need to look up something and make sure you don’t contradict yourself.
Moral of the story: when writing Book 1, and you realize it’s actually Book 2 because your characters have such interesting back stories, put it aside so you can write the new Book 1. Don’t touch the new Book 2 until Book 1 is polished, then revise Book 2. Look ahead to Book 3, so you don’t write yourself into a corner, as I did in writing the next book after BLUE LOTUS, called SANCTUARY, coming out in April 2017. Oy …
Giveaway Rules: Michelle is giving away one copy of Odessa Fremont to someone within the US. The winner will be notified next Thursday, and a comment will be left on this post. To enter, answer the giveaway question in a comment.
Giveaway question: Look at the covers for Odessa Fremont and Blue Lotus Society and tell me what genre you think this is. Hint: It’s a hot genre right now that keeps expanding, and can be considered both science fiction and fantasy.
Michelle Levigne has been a story addict for as long as she can remember, starting with The Cat in the Hat and Weekly Reader Book Club. She discovered Narnia and Star Trek in elementary school, and was a familiar face in the school library, especially when she became addicted to Greek mythology. She fell into fandom in college, and published many short stories and poems in various universes, all while sending out original stories to magazines and publishing houses, eventually receiving rejections that weren’t the standard photocopied photocopy of a form letter.
She has a BA in theater/English from Northwestern College and a MA in communication, focused on film and writing from Regent University. In 1990, her writing career finally broke into the public market when she won 1st place in the 4th quarter of the Writers of the Future contest, which included publication in that year’s winners anthology. Her first published novel Heir of Faxinor came out in 2000. Since then, Michelle has published 70+ books and novellas with multiple small presses, in SF and fantasy, YA, women’s fiction, and romance. She makes her living as a freelance editor and proofreader.
You can contact Michelle online: