bringing my main character to life
I remember many years ago when I first starting writing Lex — well, creating her. As I explained in my first newsletter, she has been through many changes. She was a vampire at one point in her life. She’s been a fairy, a soldier, and a shapeshifter. Her name has changed a few times. More than a few things went into my decisions about creating Lex. I knew I wanted a strong female lead, someone who can hold her own and not have to rely on others to get things done.
Lex feels deeply, she loves deeply, and she can react at a moment’s notice. Some people who know me well have mentioned they see a little of me in her. That might be true. But when writing, I try to separate myself from my characters. I find sometimes it is hard to do, because I want Lex to feel a certain emotion that might not be natural for me. One way of expressing that emotion is to put yourself in that situation. That is probably how Lex became a person who resembles me, in some ways.
I jumped around with ideas of how I wanted to write her. I have read books from first person point of view as well as third person. I chose to write Lex in first person because again, I wanted to give her the emotions that show why she feels the way she does about people, events, and history. I want readers to get into her head so they can help her navigate her decisions. Showing this can sometimes be complicated. She doesn’t like to rock the boat, but she has no hesitation to do things on her own. She’s stubborn. I sometimes wonder, if I ever had a conversation with Lex, what would she ask me? What would she want me to tell about her? I think the first thing she would ask me is why I ruined her life. Now to be fair, I didn’t ruin her life. I just made it more interesting. I wanted to throw something at her that would force her to take action to affect her life altering decisions.
Life is never meant to be easy; for Lex, something like having a whole other life she knew nothing about can be pretty traumatizing. Especially the way it happened to her. The second book goes into more detail. Someone who becomes close to her in the future alters her life by the consumption of unimaginable pain and rage. I knew I didn’t want her life to be easy. I wanted her to learn the truth in a way that would change her mind about trust in everyone around her.
I didn’t want to create a damsel in distress, the one who constantly needs saving. Although she does find herself in some pretty nasty situations that require help from others, she can swim on her own. Her life is pulled in so many directions that she loses her way a little. Like in every good adventure, the books present obstacles that she needs to get through to keep herself on track.
I will be upfront in saying there were times I would get frustrated with Lex. I wanted her to focus, and she would get distracted — another personality trait I’ve been known to possess that I must have accidently slipped in there.
While I been working on other projects, I have found myself thinking about Lex. She has become a big part of my life as the main character of my debut novel. I have also thought about her for more than twenty years, so it’s become a habit. I have spent those years tweaking her in every which way to finally turn her into someone I can be proud of, someone whose team I’d want to be on if the end of the world happens. Lex will definitely take a lot of turns in her life; Behind the Mirage is only her first adventure. I have more ideas that keep coming to me every day. She will be tested in many more ways; disgrace, redemption, failure. She will need to find her strength and learn to trust those around her. I cannot wait to explore more with her and take you on the journey with us.
Katharine Ann Melton