Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When Imaginary Friends Become Real

Honestly YA welcomes Darcy Woods, a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist, and her special guest--her main character Wilamena Carlisle.  Take it away, Darcy!

I am all about fun. It’s the reason my favorite pair of shoes are polka dot espadrilles. So, when Kim MacCarron invited me to guest blog with the darlings at Honestly YA, my fun-o-meter went OFF THE HOOK. Yes, a thousand times, yes. And thank you for having me!

I promise not to break anything. I will try not to break anything.

For today’s post, I thought I’d shake (but not break) things up a bit. And nothing screams post-holiday-weekend fun like an interview. An interview?!? Um, yes…but a FUN one! Have you ever interviewed your main character? Or had your MC interview YOU? It’s a really enlightening exercise that always helps me establish who my character is and the line that defines us as two unique individuals—who just happen to timeshare a brain ;)

So in the spirit of demystifying each other, Wilamena Carlisle (my MC), and I, sat down for a chat. Caffeine was consumed. Here’s what happened…

Darcy Woods:         You know we’re a bunch of writers and we always like to know what people are reading. What are you reading right now, Wil?

Wilamena Carlisle:  THE ONLY ASTROLOGY BOOK YOU’LL EVER NEED by Joanna Martine Woolfolk.

DW: I’m making my “not surprised” face.

WC: (laughs) What about you?

DW: I recently finished THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E. Smith—which I totally enjoyed! Now I’m starting MAID OF SECRETS by Jennifer McGowan. I’m only a couple chapters in and am hopelessly hooked!

WC: I can tell because you’re talking wildly with your hands.

DW: Gesticulating. Yes, I do that sometimes. Okay, next question, Wil. Tell us some of your loves.

WC: Oh my stars, there’re so many! Alright, well, in no particular order…astrology, music of all stripes and colors, 40’s vintage dresses, my bestie—Irina Dmitriyev, French fries from Curios (their seasoning salt is to DIE), and The Discovery Channel. Oh, wait, and also the Celestron NexStar 102 SLT Telescope—I’ve been lusting over that for months!

DW: Hmm, and yet I see an absence of those hot Walker boys from your “Love” list. Care to elaborate on that?

WC: Darcy, you are so Gemini it hurts. If you weren’t already the sign of the twins, then you would be the sign of the question mark because you question EVERYTHING.

DW: Guilty. Wait—how’d you know I was Gemini?!

WC: (smiles) It’s what I do. I have a knack for knowing people’s signs. I’m an Aquarius, which, like you, is an air sign…if you were curious.

DW: According to you I am always curious. (grins) Okay, how about dislikes? BTW, nice dodge on the guy question.

WC: Thanks. Hmm, well, I think thongs are the devil. Ooh, and clowns, I HATE clowns. Brussel sprouts too. What else?

DW: Didn’t you have a pants-wetting incident that involved clowns?

WC: Jupiter’s moons, if you breathe a word about that, I will tell everyone about your incident at Oktoberfest in Munich! (giggles deviously) It’s really good, too.

DW: Heh. Consider your secret safe with me. Okay, since you’re such a music enthusiast, what song’s burning a hole on your playlist right now? Mine’s currently grooving on Tip of the Tongue by The Donnis Trio.

WC: Oooh, good one! Well I’m slightly obsessed with Trying to Put Your Heart Back Together by Slow Runner. It’s playing as we speak.

DW: Ah, so it is. It’s kind of a sad song.

WC: But the melody is upbeat! Like underneath the sad, hope is always lurking, you know?

DW: When I grow up I want to be like you.

WC: Aren’t you like twice my age?

DW: (coughs) Um, I think there’s time for one last question. What is a supernova? I figure it’s important since it’s in the title of the story.

WC: Simply put, a supernova is the explosion of a dying star. For a short time it can outshine an entire galaxy, and is a billion times more luminous than the sun. They’re pretty rare, though.

DW: (whistles) Yowsa, that’s some exit. So, have you ever seen one?

WC: A supernova? Um…(grins) I think they should read the book and find out.

DW: Clever girl.

Thanks for joining us, but now I have to ask, (because I am Gemini), have YOU ever interviewed your MC? If so, did you gain anything from the experience?  Do you have any other tricks for connecting with your characters? 


Kimberly said...

Thanks for visiting us here at Honestly YA and dragging along Wilamena with you. :-) How fun!
I love when people interview their main characters because you can really get a feel for both the author and the book.
I can't wait for SUMMER OF SUPERNOVA to hit the book shelves! I'll be first in line.

Melissa Landers said...

This was so fun, Darcy! Thanks for visiting with us!

CareyCorp said...

Fun interview Darcy. Have fun on your big night!

Pintip said...

Ha! Love it. Welcome Darcy and Wilamena to Honestly YA. That was super fun. Like, supernova super fun. Kim and I will have to fight for that first spot in line. :)

Jennifer McGowan said...

Thank you, Darcy!!! ~waves madly!!~ and yes, I have interviewed my main character--all my characters, actually. It worked best after the book was all done, but it actually helped me think of ways to grow their stories in books 2 and beyond.

GREAT interview!! Thank you!

Darcy said...

Aww, Kim, thanks so much for the warm welcome! *tackles* *hugs* And the feeling is mutual...I want to be at the head of the line for YOUR book. I'll be the redheaded scrapper throwing elbows ;)

Melissa and Carey, thanks for your comments, and I'm so glad you had fun! Some of us really strive to make it a way of life. Although...sometimes I fall short.

Pintip! Well, I've reached the zenith because I don't think I'll ever top SUPERNOVA-esque fun :) While I appreciate your warrior spirit, I don't think you and Kim will have to go to blows ;) And I'm staking my claim in your line too!

*waves wildly back* Jenn! I love that you found interviewing your characters helped grow their stories! It's so very true. Appreciate you stopping by and sprinkling your Jenn magic on the post ;)

Amy said...

Hi Darcy! I've asked questions ABOUT my characters, but never OF my characters. Such a good idea- because you get answers in their unique voice. Enjoyed meeting Wil, and tell her hello for me from one of the family! :) Amy Carlisle DeLuca

Darcy said...

Helloooo Amy!!! Wow. We are practically related!

Yeah, I really love chatting with my characters once I've got a "feel" for them. Talking TO instead of ABOUT them helps me solidify their distinct personality. I also like to make my muse feel empowered. Otherwise, she gets cranky ;)

Thanks for popping by!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Darcy! What a fun interview!

I did interview a main character once ... I learned a lot. I didn't feel that his voice would be there to channel in that situation (=outside the book), but it definitely was.

And now ... who plays Wil in the movie?? I'm thinking Molly Quinn, the daughter from Castle. What do you think?


Darcy said...

Hey, thanks for swinging by, Greta!!!

Those character interviews can DEFINITELY be a stretch, but oh-so-eyeopening! Kudos for giving it a try.

Oh, great question--who would play Wil? While Molly Quinn is totally adorable, I think maybe...hmm, that's a toughy. Ellen Page? But she would need a nice chin-length bob and some fingerwaves ;)

Anonymous said...

Ellen Page is a great idea. I caught a few minutes of Juno on tv last night ... she was terrific.

New question: is Wil more inspired by memories of your own teenage yrs (um, assuming they're behind you), or by people you know today?

Anonymous said...

Ah, that was Greta again, asking that last question.


Sandra Owens said...

Fun post, Darcy! Love the interview your character idea.

I knew there was something about you I liked. I'm a Gemini, too. Oh, wait. I used to be, now there's that new sign (what was it again?) and now I'm something else. No wonder I'm always so confused.

Your story sounds great and congrats again on signing with your dream agent.


Darcy said...

Oooh, Greta, you're full of excellent questions! Are you perchance a Gemini too? ;)


Sadly, I left my teen years in the dust several decades ago, but I get to relive them every time I write! I think Wil is an amalgam of my own quirky past, AND bits and pieces of amazing teens I know today. It's so important to give voice to strong, unconventional characters. The underlying message: It's okay to be different--in fact it is fabulous!

Thanks again, Greta!

Darcy said...

Hi Sandra! Ha, we're twins!!! Confused and befuddled, but hopefully still endearing ;)

Thank you again for the warm fuzzies of congrats! I cannot WAIT for you to land the agent of your dreams!!!

I'm such a sucker for happily-ever-afters. *swoons*

Unknown said...

How fun! Wil definitely has her own voice, and it's enjoyable to read your exchanges. I love her exclamatory phrases (Jupiter's moons, hee!). BTW, I read STATISTICAL PROBABILITY a few months back and really liked it.

I did a character interview once, when I was having trouble hearing his voice. He had a lot to say, it turned out. Very helpful.

Nan Dixon said...

Great interview! (I want to know about Octoberfest.)

I sometimes fill out an interview form - but lately (since I write connected series) I keep a background file of characters, settings, web articles, etc. This way I can quickly find their eye and hair color, what they smell like, what their emotional wound is. I've been using Linda Goodman's Sun Signs (probably got everything about that wrong) to help with their characters. It's kind of fun. It was something Cherry Adair suggested in a workshop and it gives a lot of ideas.

SO Darcy -- Have you gotten those scuff marks off the ceiling??
Can't wait for Atlanta!

Darcy said...

Hey, Talia! Yes, it's amazing with these little exercises what we can glean from our characters. *HINT* It is never what we think it will be :) Thank you for dropping by and visiting with us--and by us--I mean Wil and I!

Nan! Oh, Nan, OF COURSE, you have an interview form. I bet you have spread sheets too ;) I adore you and your OCD ways--it really is inspiring! And unfortunately, I think the scuff marks are here to stay.

Gang, I'm off because my day job is wailing in the distance. But I'll be back later tonight and promise to respond to every one of you!!!! TA---

Anonymous said...

Hi, Darcy.

Totally agree that the world needs more strong, unconventional characters. Wil definitely fills the bill! I asked about her origins because she has such a rich and convincing teenage voice.

I am a Scorpio, not a Gemini. I have always loved my sign ... but I think I'm a really bad Scorpio! :)

And another question ... do you see any connections between the stories you write and books you loved during your teenage years?


Natalie D Richards said...

Oh, Darcy, you really do get lovelier every month I know you! :-) So, naturally, your character would be every bit as wonderful. This book sounds absolutely AMAZING and I have no doubt it will be on shelves soon. Can't wait to hear more big news from you, girl!!

Leslie Lynch said...

Hey, Darcy, great reminder about interviewing characters. I did that once, a long time ago, and why I haven't continued, I don't know. It was both fun and enlightening, and provided great depth.

Thanks for a fun post!

Bonnie Staring said...

Fantabulous interview, Darcy! What I like doing is interviewing my MC, and then having another character ask my MC the same questions to see if her answers change. (It's amazing how the hero or her BFF can change her answers.) Can't wait to meet you in Atlanta!

Kari Edgren Miller said...

Hey Darcy, great idea! Never thought to interview my main character. Could help shake things up on those days when the words are stuck on the inside.

Sheri Adkins said...

Great blog post, Darcy! I especially loved how you referred to your characters as "timesharing" your brain with you. Too funny!

I've tried interviewing my characters, doing character sketches, asking them things like "What's your favorite ice cream?" but it hasn't seemed to help my process much. It seems the only way I can actually learn much about my stubborn characters is to go on their journey with them--in brainstorming, plotting and the first draft--then retelling their story as best I can.

You way seems a lot more fun. And efficient! But it is what it is.

Sheri Adkins

Holly Bodger said...

So glad I'm not the only one who has conversations with her characters! :-)

Unknown said...

Great character and author interview, Darcy! Nicely done and dodged. Now I'm even more eager to read SUMMER OF SUPERNOVA. I want to know what's up with those Walker boys.
I haven't interviewed my characters, but you've now inspired me to give it a try.
Looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta, buying you a drink (or two) and finding out about Oktoberfest :)

Darcy said...

I'm back! Okay, I'll begin w/ answering Greta's question (thank you my inquisitive Scorpio!). Do I think the books I enjoyed as a teen influence the stories I write?

Certainly to some degree. I was always very drawn to characters who possessed an unconventional strength. And smart girls. Nancy Drew was my hero! But seriously, I couldn't write a mystery to save my life, so I probably won't tackle that anytime soon :)

No, I think any vividness in my writing comes from the magic of that character's lens on the world. I don't worry so much about "sounding" teen. I worry about being authentic to my MC. I have to see her, feel her, and breathe her... Once I do, I'm free to let her tell her story, and me and my ego just have to stay out of the way ;)

Darcy said...

*blushes* Natalie, you are such an awesome flatterer. And totally modest! Let's talk about your amazing book hitting the shelves in October, shall we?! Thanks for stopping in and commenting, lady ;)

Hi Leslie! Ooh, goodie, I'm so delighted that this brought you back to something you found helpful but had lost touch with!!! And you know I'm always happy to pack the fun in there too. Appreciate you coming by :)

Hellooo Bonnie! Ah, excellent idea letting your characters interview each other! That's brilliant...again, making my not-surprised face. Can't wait to see you in Atlanta as well :) Bring on July!

Darcy said...

Hey Kari! Gosh yes, sometimes those words stick on the inside, don't they?! Wouldn't it be great if they made Word Draino?! I think my life would be complete. Thank you for making a pit stop and joining us :)

Wheee, Sheri! Great to see you here! Oh man, you just can't boss around that muse, can you? What works for one person, may not for another, but it's great to have options! And I say whatever gets the job done, sign me up ;)

Helloooo Holly! *knuckle bumps* YES! I love it when other people talk to their fictional friends. Thanks for stopping in with you and your posse :)

Hey Jacqui! Thanks for the comment. Thrilled the interview piqued your curiosity. It's hard NOT to be curious about hot guys, isn't it? Ha, ha, I won't require you to buy me drinks for the Oktoberfest skinny, but rest assured, it was not a shining moment ;)

Come to think of it, I have a scary abundance of stories where I'm prone to doing the ridiculous.

Miranda Liasson said...

Darcy, your wonderful voice comes out loud and clear in this interview! How fun. I can't wait to read this!!

Darcy said...

Oh, Miranda, you are too kind! Thank you so much for stopping in and sprinkling me with your sweetness :)