A Rose By Any Other Name…

They say talking to yourself is the first sign of madness.

But as writers we engage in conversations with our fictional characters all the time. (Well, I do, anyway!)

The thing is, for fiction to work, the characters have to be credible. Believable. That’s as much true for a romance or an historical novel as for a crime thriller. Even if you’re writing science fantasy set in made-up worlds that exist only in  your imagination, you still need the reader to engage with your characters.

To believe in them.

Even to care for them.

After all, if you don’t care about them you’re not going to waste your time reading about them. Simple as.

That doesn’t mean you have to like them! But you need to believe in them and care what happens to them, even if it’s just to be sure the bad guys get their just desserts.

Every writer approaches their craft differently, but a common method for writers when creating new characters is to give those characters a life outside of the novel. To know their background, their history, their intimate details. Sometimes a writer will create a substantial biography with everything from childhood upbringing, educational achievements, relationships and detailed physical descriptions, ninety per cent of which will never feature in the book.

To the non-writer that may sound like a complete waste of time (and it’s not my preferred approach), but if it helps that particular author bring the character to life on the page it’s time well spent.

As authors we have to live with our characters, in order to live out their lives on our pages, and inevitably some become personal favourites.

In Sugar & Spice the adorable Dynamite Twins were my favourites, and though the reader could not know it before-hand, no-one was ever going to lay a finger on them at any stage. For my co-author Saffi it was the cheeky lad Danny that captured her imagination. Neither of them central players in the drama, but so often it is the bit-players that steal the show!

For our new crime thriller series, Rose Red, it’s all new characters and that means building up all-new relationships. After all, if we the authors don’t care about these characters we cannot possibly expect a reader to do so.

As the follow-up book riding on the success of Sugar & Spice we were also faced with the dilemma of how similar our next novel should be.

We were in fact already planning a sequel to Sugar & Spice, unsurprisingly called Puppy Dogs’ Tales, but are deliberately holding back on this because we don’t want to become stereotyped as authors that write about child-killers. That happened to be the theme of Sugar & Spice, but we actually have inclinations and plans across a range of themes and even genres.

So our energies are focussed on a dark fantasy trilogy, Equilibrium, and the new crime thriller series, Rose Red. More on Equilibrium another time.

Rose Red is not Sugar & Spice.

By which I mean it’s not a dark and brooding psychological thriller exploring the murky world of sexual deviants. For that you’ll have to wait for Puppy Dog’s Tails and the third book Cold Blood (about necrophiles, since you ask).

But Rose Red is much lighter reading. The first in a series of fast-paced crime thrillers taking as their themes classic European fairy stories. Rose Red Book One: Snow White, is due on Kindle this summer.

But how to promote it?

This, of course, is the dilemma faced by all indie authors and indeed most traditionally-published authors – it’s only the select few who get the plinth in Waterstone’s, the posters on the Underground and to snuggle up on the sofa with Mariella.

(Hey, imagine Mariella and Amanda Hocking on the sofa together. Compulsive viewing!)

Well, as we’re so busy writing our next dozen books, and we haven’t got a publishing house to do it for us, we thought it would be easier to hand that problem over to our characters.

Yes, you read right!

Of course, that would never have worked for Sugar & Spice, but as we’re oh so anxious to make clear, Rose Red is not Sugar & Spice.

So say hello to Ella Crichton (above).

Now Ella is not the star of the book (though she likes to think otherwise!), but she knows a thing or two about what’s going on.

Hopefully you’ll find time to visit her blog, make friends with her on facebook and follow her on twitter (just click on the links!) as she reveals the inside story of the Rose Red crime thriller series as it moves into top gear in preparation for the summer launch.

Oh, and don’t be fooled by the angelic features. Ella may only be eleven, but Rose Red is a very adult crime thriller series for adult readers with adult tastes.

That’s Rose Red Book One: Snow White. Coming to a Kindle near you this summer!

  1. So that’s what you meant. I’m going to have to watch and see how this works. I’m honestly not sure if I could do the same for Hope/Astra.

  2. Subscribe to Ella’s blog, facebook and tweets for a some good fun and just possibly to experience a new way of marketing.

    This is a brave new world of publishing where the old rules are breaking down, and we can help make the new ones.

    Worst case scenario is it doesn’t add that many sales.

    But in writing the characters blogs the authors have a chance to experiment and develop those characters for the book or series.

    I think it would work just fantastic for Hope, using her journal as a direct extension of the book, pre-launch, post-launch and to build up the sequel, perhaps even mentioning the blog in the book to conjure up a dual reality (which would fit oh so well to your particular story!).

    And I’d be inclined to give Artemis her own night-time slot too! She is pure genius!

    Sorry all you guys who haven’t a clue what I’m on about.

    Wearing The Cape is my prediction for the autumn best seller.

    It launches next month on Kindle and (don’t tell Saffi I said this) it’s far better than anything we’ve written!

  3. Fine related information! I have been seeking for things like that for a time today. Many thanks!

    • Stephanie Campbell
    • November 7th, 2011

    Mark I tried to reply to your very thoughtful and much appreciated review of my book on the “you Write on ” website but had a bounce back on the ‘markwilliamsauthor’ email address. May I have another address to write to you please?




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