People are peculiar. Characters should be too. Vanilla ice cream is arguably wonderful, but you won’t find many readers willing to argue that books need more vanilla—as in plain—characters.
We asked many authors who write on the clean end of the spectrum to tell us about a peculiarity of one of their characters, either in a current work-in-progress or a published work. Since we realize authors are often extremely busy people, we’re especially appreciative of those who were able to—and did—respond.
(Click an author’s name or book link for more.)
Jessica Marie Holt – Oh, goodness, all of my characters are peculiar. But Dottie Dixon from Sunlight and Shadows is one of my very favorites. The story is set in 1871. Dottie is a sturdy, no-nonsense, buxom kind of woman, but she has an absolute weakness for fashion and decorating—the more lavish and ridiculous, the better. She reads the fashion and home décor mags of the day, and she goes around in fancy brocade dresses with huge bustles and a thousand buttons. The best thing about her is her hats—she wears these elaborate hats with tall, trailing feathers, and you always know when she’s upset because the feathers start trembling. She’s also a woman of few words, and she has an intriguing and sometimes shady past that only reveals itself in tidbits. In a way, I feel like she represents the dichotomy of the Victorian era; austere and no-nonsense, but also opulent and hopelessly over-the-top.
Jessica L. Elliott – My favorite part of writing is discovering all of my characters’ peculiarities. In my published book Operation: Romance, Stacie is a teenager who always writes texts out with proper spelling and punctuation. She can’t stand text-speak, which can drive her crazy since that’s all the handsome football player she’s working with uses. This part of her personality just cracks me up because most teens have no problem with texting shorthand. But, Stacie is not your average teen.
Ruth O’Neil – I actually keep a notebook in my purse as weird/quirky/strange characters seem to be drawn to me. I’ll be out in public and someone feels it necessary to tell me their life’s story—everything I never wanted to know. Little do they know I’m taking mental notes and will record things ASAP. I think one of the favorite characters I “created” was Professor Yates in Come Eat at My Table. She is a conglomerate of several people I know personally. She is the epitome of the absent-minded professor. Her outfits are eccentric, complete with huge, coordinating hats. She might wobble on the sane/insane line, but her heart is true. She loves my MC like no one else but her father did.
Linda Ellen – In my book A Bride for Finn, one of my side characters is an incessant talker. I named her Elvira. She’s based on one of my sister-in-laws, lol. She talks non-stop, you can’t get a word in edge-wise, and her thoughts bounce from one subject to another. Her scenes are hilarious.
Lea Carter – Fairies live for several thousand years. It’s typical to find great-great-grandparents playing sports with their descendants, taking adventure vacations, and just generally living life to the fullest.
Princess Arabella, on the other hand, views life through a lens colored by early tragedy. Her younger sister died doing something quite mundane, heightening Arabella’s awareness of how fragile fairies truly are. While other parents are pushing their 40 year old children to learn to fly, she’s finding whatever excuse she can to keep her children close to home. Where it’s safe.
She fights her fears daily, with the staunch support of her husband and family, but cringes each time life puts those she loves in danger.
[Though she’s not the main character, Arabella has a supporting role in Silver Majesty and Silver Verity.]
Arthur Daigle – Mr. Niff the goblin is convinced he’s a hero, and is the first person to run into danger. It doesn’t matter if there’s no way to win the fight, or if there’s even a real threat, he’s going in with without regard to his own safety. His bravery has resulted in several spectacular acts of heroism, and a nearly endless stream of lawsuits from outraged property owners, insurance salesmen, and totally innocent passersby.
[Mr. Niff and his heroic acts are in William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins.]
Laurean Brooks – Aunt Em is a quirky older lady, (my hero’s aunt), in my Western mail order bride story, Not What He Ordered. She speaks her mind and is devious in a helpful way. Hero (Josh) does not know the ad he placed for Aunt Em was not for house help, but for a bride for him. Then when Aunt Em swears the prospective bride (heroine Carrie) to secrecy, Carrie is caught between a rock and a hard place. To tell or not to tell. But Carrie has secrets of her own.
‘We’ even asked the editor.
Earl Chinnici – Not counting that one peculiar character in my debut nearly-a-memoir I wrote as I quit smoking, I suppose my most peculiar character so far is Rita, a boisterous woman of Peurto Rican heritage in one of my current works-in-progress. She speaks and drives very fast. I believe she might be one of Atlanta, Georgia’s worst drivers. Rita comes across as borderline obnoxious at first but she’s really just having a rough time navigating life. That pretty well sums up what I know about her personality so far. Soon after we met, we each faced our own traumatic events so our relationship has been on hold a while. Maybe we’ll get a chance to reconnect someday soon.