Category Archives: Characters

Creating Characters: Breaking the Archetype – The Gay Guy

When it comes to creating a character, we writers have to be very careful to avoid many things. One of those things is the archetype. Archetypes are great for miscellaneous persons with very small roles. They are also great for satirical pieces. (The re-make of Hairspray comes to mind here haha) Other than that, I find them to be pretty flat as characters. Sticking to their stereotype is what makes them what the are, after all.

A common archetype that we see in modern media (I can’t say literature because I only really read historical romances, on the rare occasion I have a moment to read) is The Gay Guy. You know him. He’s got fabulous blonde hair, his fashion sense is trendy and drool worthy, and if you’re wearing last year’s LV, beware. He’s out for you. He wastes no time in making raunchy penis jokes and is secretly envious of your boyfriend. He’s your best girl friend. He picks our your clothes for you, waxes your brows, and will cuddle on the couch with you feeling completely safe because he’s gay.

Gag me.

As someone who comes from an incredibly gay family with a cornucopia of homosexual friends and acquaintances, I really don’t understand where this came from. But this isn’t a post about LGBT equality (I make a horrible activist), it’s about characters and my own insecurity as a writer.

I never put a character into a story just for the sake of having one. Never for the sake of being politically correct, or to embrace all walks of life. Hell, I don’t even make up my characters. They come to me.

And you know what? Like everyone else in this decade, I have a homosexual male in my cast. Two, actually. But Philip Avery is such a big part of the story (The Book of Cale in particular) that I actually get nervous talking about him and working with him for that reason. I fear the reaction of people assuming I’ve jumped onto some bandwagon. He isn’t ‘The Gay Guy’. His sexual orientation has no impact on who he is as a person, it’s just a matter of preference.

But how will  he be received? I’ve already had people ask me why I ‘made’ him gay. It wasn’t a choice, he just is. He always was, and will continue to be. I can’t change him and I don’t want to.

So I wonder, will people look at me and say, “of course she has a gay guy. Everyone has a gay guy.” because like the token black guy (which I don’t have. For no reason other than none have made their way into my head), he needs to make an appearance in order for me to be culturally acceptable.

Maybe I’m over thinking it. Realistically, so long as I do my job right, present a compelling story with characters that feel real and can be connected with, I shouldn’t worry about how someone is going to be analyzed or received. If readers can accept the homicidal psychopath that is our hero, I imagine the jaded, bearded tavern owner wiping down dirty mugs isn’t exactly a difficult man to accept.

I’m sorry he’s not fabulous. He’s just a sort-of single dad trying to make ends meet in 1784.

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Alphabet Soup: Twice Brewed

Oops! I forgot about Alphabet soup last week. That’s because Mr. Frenchie and I were in the kitchen having a hobby night. 🙂 (we make candles! It’s super fun!) Tonight I will give you two letters and we’ll see if I can come up with any clever alliterations. We’ll see.

E is for excitement[!]

There is a lot of energy in this series and it comes at us from all angles. Between Aiden’s evasive maneuvers when it comes to Cale, and the exasperating eagerness of Miss Avery to allow her new world to engulf her, our hero and heroine are responsible for a great deal of it. It doesn’t help much that they find themselves entangled in a series of rather bizarre eventsenraging Aiden, and even bringing forth Wentworth’s ever elusive inner demons. Envy becomes a key point in our story, frequently threatening the very existence of all three. Once at ease, they now sleep with one eye open, preparing for the next bloody encounter.

On the other side of the land, empathy for Isabella Avery ensnares our good king and he returns to being the epitome of hopeless romantic, all the while entertaining Philip’s desires for returning his daughter safely. He becomes riddled with euphoria for his newfound paramour, but quickly learns the effects his love has on his bride, enabling a cruel and bitter end.

F is for Fletcher

With his ever present frown and furrowed brows, Aiden’s valet is a lot more fun than I imagined. He has served the Finnegan family for more than four decades, and his age is nearly twice the years he has attended them. Though he is often frosty and rigid in his ways, he has a fondness for Luke, who intendeds to fix Aiden. His appearance is that of a frail old man, though he is anything but. Deducing liars is his forte, (a great asset to his master, who is often too busy to deal with peons), but should a fight ensue, he is well trained in firearms, possessing a finesse much like Aiden’s and enabling him to fend for himself and the freight that they are moving should the situation call for it.

Fletcher does not take kindly to fools, and he counts Wentworth among such beings. He has little use for fanciful adornments and flamboyant clothing, but when one tends to the person that is Aiden Finnegan, this is expected. He is one of the few people alive that knows all of Aiden’s frightening past and faces it head on when his master can not. He is loyal to a fault, but does facilitate Luke’s efforts because he honestly believes that Aiden does deserve a fraction of happiness, even when the rest of the world disagrees.


How to Charm a Lady – The Finnegan Way

Even though it is safe to say that Wentworth is the comic relief of this series, it is oftentimes the things that Aiden says that have me laughing the most. He’s just so uncaring and thoughtless in his speech, and most of his disdain is directed at women, leading me to wonder how it is he manages to find himself in the good graces of any of them.

But then, perhaps his attitude is his charm, so I gathered up a bunch of his words of wooing, but I don’t advise anyone to tuck them away as pickup lines. Someone might call the police.

“Do not mistake favoritism for friendship,” he snarled, tightening his grip, “you mean one thing to me.”

He scoffed, crossing his arms and leaning up against the wall. “You? I thought only I could make you tremble in fear.”

“I won’t save you. Should Xander choose to kill you, I will find another with your talents.”

“Are you ill, Miss?”

Luke nodded and Aiden let out a disgusted grunt. “Brilliant start to a new life as a delicate lady, don’t you think?”

Snapping her head up and forcing back a cry of pain, she glowered at him. “I have never been on a boat before,” she said testily.

“It’s a ship,” he corrected blandly.

“It will be easier to be rid of your fleas.”

“Curiosity is healthy.” She was gripping the edge of the ship now, leaning backwards, her heels the only things keeping her vertical. She really was a child.

“It kills cats, I hear,” he replied, with little emotion.

    “I have never considered myself a gentleman, Miss Avery.”

“I’ve half a mind to let you stay there,” he replied, checking his timepiece, “but fortunately for you, I am not permitted to leave you in dirty barns.”

    Luke grabbed the back of Aiden’s jacket and tugged hard, letting out a low hiss. “Are you on good terms with anyone?”

His reply was short and simple. “No.”

Aiden nodded, but dismissed her father quickly. “I wasn’t aware that you were literate.”

Offended, Luke’s eyebrows knit together as she frowned and spun around, giving him her back. “That is very rude,” she said, dipping the nib fiercely into the blotter.

“I am rarely polite,” he said offhandedly.

“People don’t marry for love, Miss Avery,” he said coldly, staring up at her

    “You trust me.”

She nodded and he lit another cigarette.

“Then I will be your undoing, Miss Avery.”

“Arrogance is in my blood,” he told her, “it’s the Finnegan way, you see.”

“You’d never be able to learn,” he said, moving to stand behind her. Without much thought, he leaned over, stretching his arms over her shoulders, and placing his large, weathered hands over her own petite ones, “Your hands are too small.”

Aiden noticed her discomfort and smiled. “Come now, Miss Avery. Do not tell me you’ve never been victim to a proper flogging.”

“Did you shoot your father?”

With one hand on the small of her back, he nudged her forward. He had no more use for this room.

“No, I poisoned him.”

“I had no brothers,” he replied, a flat fact. “and if you even so much as think to to hold me accountable for my sister’s death, I will splatter your insides down these stairs.”

Ah, what a ladies man.


Alphabet Soup: C is for Cale

Huzzah! Week three of Alphabet soup and I finally get to talk about Cale! We haven’t seen all too much of him because he doesn’t make an official appearance until The Book of Aiden, but he does cause a lot of rifts and is responsible for a lot of undertones at the point we are at now.

So here we go. Now you’ll see why my favourite King has an entire book dedicated to him.

Cale and Aiden were childhood friends and shared a companionship like no other. Compassion and chivalry are his creed, and he was most often found comforting his bruised and battered friend. Cale had little desire to claim the throne, his one and only desire being to capture the heart of a yong lady and fall deeply in love with her, have many children, and carry on happily ever after.

Fate is a cruel mistress, however, and just after he took up the throne, the young king caught a most unfortunate disease to which a cure has not yet been found.

Angered by Cale’s forced abandonment, Aiden attempted to murder his friend, completing the cycle of loss, but was unsuccessful. Bound by law, the king was forced to try the duke before the court, condemning him to life as a commoner, all the while praying that he would not choose imprisonment.

When Aiden brought chaos and catastrophe to the room, escaping and leaving Cale looking like an incompetent clown, the king committed his life to catching the man he had once called brother.

As the years wear on and his condition worsens, Cale cuts his dreams of love, concentrating on his hunt that nears ten years. When Isabella Avery crosses his path, confessing her love for him, and her husband offers clues to the whereabouts of the Black Duke in exchange for royal cooperation in finding his missing daughter, the king begins to discover how many lives are connected to this fierce drama.

Using Isabella as collateral, he begins a kingdom wide chase to bring down a notorious criminal, and return his captive to her family.

But Cale’s contact is corrupt, and in keeping with his character, anything involving Aiden Finnegan is very…

Complicated.


The Balancing Act

One of my favourite aspects of Aiden Finnegan is just how apathetic towards his fellow human beings he really is. The fact that he’ll off stable boys or chatty women without blinking an eye is terrifying, but when he has the audacity to complain that they’ve bloodied his favourite boots, I can’t help but crack a smile.

This is what makes fiction so great. Things that aren’t acceptable in real life are enjoyed when presented in a fictitious scenario. Some people love them. Some anticipate these horrors.

But when is it too much? Let’s take the movie franchise Saw for example. I’m not a fan of horror movies, but I did see that one and it was fabulous. It was unique, exciting, disturbing, and so very very delicious. But then they kept going. And they kept going. And they kept going. People still watch them, to get their horror film fix, I imagine, but you no longer hear about how great they are. Now they’re just sort of… all the same.

As a writer, it’s scary to think that someone might think that of my protagonist. I don’t think anyone does–I haven’t had any sort of feedback saying so, but like I’ve said in previous posts, I really like to take Aiden’s nasty and run with it. So I’ve got to step back and sprinkle in some human. But that too can get boring. I mean, let’s be honest. There are only so many times I can have the guy musing at dawn.

So what’s a good way to balance a character? My trick has always been the other characters. I’m good with characters. As a writer, they are my strength. (Can someone please teach me how to write action scenes?!)

Inner monologues and surprising fun facts learned during our anti-hero’s alone time are all well and good, but if we as real people grow and develop with the help of the people we surround ourselves with, isn’t the same true for our characters? They are, in their own worlds, people too. They function just as we do and in the universes I create, I don’t mess with that multi-dimension science/psychology/physiology/biology/personologyI’mjustmakingitupnow because I don’t understand any of it and I’m too lazy and too poor to go to university to study it in order to change it somewhere else.

Just, no.

So I throw in other people to balance out the extremists. If you’re a good writer (and I do consider myself as such, the pompous jerk that I am) everyone will work off each other and you’ll have a really good cast set up. Even if, as is the case of The Noble Project, they aren’t actually good people.

The first to tame Aiden’s fury a bit is Wentworth. This is the most obvious in his character because he is, as stated before, the complete opposite. He’s bright, funny, charming, optimistic, and values human life above all. He has also known Aiden since the steel hearted bastard was in the schoolroom, so he’s got a lot of valuable information to share with us throughout the story.

Secondly, and another obvious one, we have our heroine, Luke Avery. I wouldn’t say that she’s opposite Aiden, so much as different. Wentworth balances him, Luke unlocks him. She isn’t afraid of him, but she isn’t so brave either. She knows nothing about him, and sees things in him that no one else does. This isn’t because she’s amazing, radiating with empathy and understanding or even that she’s such a kind hearted girl that she sees the good in everyone. (She’s actually quite selfish) She is able to see good in this man because everyone else’s image of him is already set in stone. He does have quite a reputation, after all.

But we can’t just have the main characters working the three rings of this circus because that’s boring, predictable, and cheap. So I threw in one Mr. Espott.

The door opened and an elderly man came out, a measuring tape draped over his pointy shoulders. He blinked rapidly as he hollered, and brandished his arm (sporting a particularly dangerous looking pair of scissors), though the man was so thin and frail he appeared to nearly snap at each move that he made.

Much to Luke’s surprise, Aiden did little to defend himself.

You,” Wilfred Espott snarled, pointing his scissors up into Aiden’s face, “you ruined me!”

“I’ve ruined many men,” Aiden admitted, crossing his arms, “what makes you so special?”

Luke poked her head out from her hiding place behind his back to observe the old man’s reaction. At Aiden’s cold words, this man did not flare up like Glendale had. Instead, hurt flashed though his eyes. Sorrow and disappointment etched themselves across his features.

But he did not let these emotions linger.

“You brought to me the finest inspiration,” he said, his arms raised up, at his lament, “the very best of models. At your bidding I created masterpieces! Absolute masterpieces! And now–ha!”

“The world is in a terrible state, Mr. Espott,” Wentworth chimed in.

“Trades!” cried the dressmaker, throwing an arm over his icy blue eyes in despair, “they come offering trades! As if I am nothing more than a common tailor!”

Aiden sighed in irritation, “Espott–”

“Ten years!” he exclaimed, shaking his scissors at Aiden again, “I’ve been waiting for you to return for ten years and what have you brought me? A womanizing gambler!”

Wentworth let out a cheery chuckle, “Knows me well, doesn’t he?”

Luke stepped into his view, knowing that there was no threat to be had here, but Mr. Espott did not acknowledge her, still howling on about Aiden’s lack of patronage.

You were the only man I ever designed for,” Mr. Espott reminded him, circling him and shaking his head in disapproval, “yet I see you have moved on to craftsmen who are less than worthy of dressing you.”

“Losing one’s status in the world does have its repercussions,” Aiden replied dully.

Wilfred Espott is not afraid to stand his ground, and he’s not afraid of any Aiden Finnegan. Why’s this? Mostly because he is old and pretentious. I didn’t do this on purpose. I didn’t create him to flesh out my hero, or to add a speckle of humor in order to give Wentworth a break. Mr. Espott’s real purpose was to introduce this:

The woman in question was. to put it simply, the most beautiful woman Luke had ever seen. Her porcelain skin was the color of fresh milk, and free of the sort of freckles that liked to surface on a sunny summer day. Her hair was dark, the blackest black and as the tight curls toppled out from the coiffure on top of  her head and down her back, they shone like a river of ink across the creamy skin of her exposed back.

Her eyes were particularly mesmerizing:  grey like Aiden’s, but lighter and far more delicate. There was a smirk on her face, just the slightest upturn of her lips, rouged for the portrait. Though she was silent, there was no mistaking what she wanted to say. It was the same words whispered into the ears of young gentlemen by the women who worked the street corners, the same sort of desire of two lovers entangled in a dangerous affaire.

“That there is Marietta Grace,” said Mr. Espott, turning to admire the portrait. “I never knew the meaning of my profession until he brought her to my door.”

Curiosity wormed its way through Luke’s mind and though she was too polite to inquire further, he went on, his sighs becoming heavier and his words wistful and lost in a time passed.

“I had never seen a more beautiful woman,” he whispered, “and she knew this. She wanted the best. She wanted to be noticed. She wanted what other women would spend their days swooning over while their own dressmakers did their best to imitate.” He paused to laugh, cracking a genuine smile at the memory, “He of course, thought nothing of it, practically tossing his gold at my feet.”

Something hard and heavy settled in Luke’s stomach then.

“He loved her, didn’t he?”

“Loved her?” he asked, shaking his head, “Yes. And then… she destroyed him.”

The meat of his rage, and the center of his despair. One of the very key reasons that he behaves the way he does. I mentioned it briefly in chapter one, and in this chapter, danced with so allusions to it, but allusions and passing thoughts aren’t enough. The seed has been planted.

There will be lots of people like Mr. Espott popping up, some giving Aiden more dimension, some Wentworth, and many, Luke. Really, the girl will talk to anyone.

Having a terrible man as a protagonist is fun, and people enjoy reading it. Giving him some balance is necessary, and having valid (if complex and unforgivable) reasons for making the choices he does, is what makes a story worth reading.


Character Inspiration: Wentworth Simon

Wentworth Simon, fully addressed as:  Wentworth Maurice Goldsbury Simon is, hands down, one of the most entertaining characters to ever grace my brain. He was created almost immediately after Aiden Finnegan to balance him out, more or less. It is easy to say that Wentworth is the

to Aiden’s

But Mr. Simon is more than just a sidekick. He isn’t a stock character, and he has a lot more reasons to be around than I initially even gave him credit for. He has a history of his own, internal conflicts, and one big secret that could tip the fates of everyone if he so desired it.

One of my absolute favourite things about Wentworth is how easy it is to like him, to grin when he teases Aiden, or shake my head when he encourages Luke’s mischief. It is also so easy to forget the sort of man that he is. He is Aiden’s business partner. He seduces and sells human beings, then returns to his gilded carriage to be home for afternoon tea.

Even I forget that. That is why I like him the most. 🙂

When he came to mind, so did the actor I would cast for him. This is mostly due to the fact that I was watching Much Ado About Nothing, and I’m a bit of a Potterhead, but it simply can’t be helped. The man is a theatrical genius. So, in my perfect screenplay, Wentworth would be play by Kenneth Branagh.

If his name doesn’t ring a bell, think Dr. Loveless from Wild Wild West, various Shakespearean parts, and of course, my personal favourite:

Professor Gilderoy Lockhart

Oh yes. Mr. Simon and Miss Avery will be making quite a bit of trouble for our anti-hero in the days to come.