Monday, 4 August 2014

Blog Hop: Meet My Character

I was invited to participate in the Meet My Character blog tour by the author Judith Frances Field, and chances are you've landed on this page after following a link from her blog. I'm supposed to write a few words about Judith, which is good, because I was going to anyway!
Judith's talent, or rather one of her talents, for she has many, is the ability to come up with an idea that's almost laughably simple, then plonk that idea in the most prosaic of settings, and somehow end up with a tale so unique and so eldritch that it stays with you long after you've finished reading it.
One of the few "writers" I know who actually put pen to paper often enough to be worthy of the title, Judith is every bit the professional. I had the pleasure of editing a story of hers for Here's One I Made Earlier, and was struck by the businesslike way she responded to criticism and advice - especially since it was coming from someone who is definitely not a "writer" in any meaningful sense of the word.
Judith has paid her dues, and it shows. Her tenacity, respect for language, and sense of humour are outshone only by her humility. She will go far.
Thank you for including me in the blog hop, Judith.

I'll now answer a few questions about the main character of my work-in-progress, which is a historical novel.

1. What is the name of your character? Is he fictional or a historical person?
He’s called Hayden, but his real name is an African word, the meaning of which he learns during his adventure. He’s fictional, but grounded very much in real historical events, so someone very like him could have existed.

2. When and where is the story set?
The story takes place in the 19th Century, in a far-flung outpost of the British Empire, which has made research a real challenge, as I want the historical and geographical setting to be as accurate as possible. The action happens over the course of four days (13-17 August, 1870) from sunset to sunset. A little-known real-life humanitarian disaster provides the backdrop of the story, and this has presented yet more challenges: there's a thin line between bringing such things to public consciousness and merely exploiting them for fame and fortune.

3. What should we know about him?
He’s a thirteen-year-old boy who’s lived under the benign tyranny of his step-mother since being separated from his parents when he was five. He’s grown up far from the land of his birth, and has ambivalent feelings about his cultural origins. By the time the story opens, he’s perfected the art of getting by in life by fitting in with others’ needs and keeping his head down. But his latent need to come to terms with his own identity is forced into the open when he suddenly learns that just about everything everyone ever told him is false. It's probably worth pointing out that the novel is aimed at adult readers, despite the youth of its protagonist.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?
His world is turned upside down when his mentor gives him the idea of searching for his real parents. The main conflict is his quest for the truth in the face of opposition from the keepers of a terrible secret. The twist — at least I hope it’s a twist — is that the Big Lie is very much a white lie. His ultimate dilemma will be whether to expose it or support it.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?
His conscious goal is to find his parents, but what he’s really striving to do is find where he fits in the world.

6. Is there a working title for this WIP, and can we read more about it?
There is a firm title, which I like for several reasons: It’s short and catchy, has two different but equally relevant meanings, and appears not to have been used yet. Because of this, I’m keeping it under wraps. Sorry about that, but I’ve already “done a Dobby” on myself with the desk lamp after answering questions 1 to 5. You can read a little bit more about the early stages of the story's development here.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?
I’m aiming for summer 2016, as that would coincide nicely with a public event which promises to raise awareness of the “terrible secret” alluded to above. I have to keep reminding myself that allowing for rewrites, and submissions, and waiting, and rejections, and more submissions, and waiting, and contract, and waiting, and editing, 2016 is about three and a half days away. So I'd better stop blogging, and get back to work!