Getting To Know You; or, An Interview With Your Character

(Post-a-Day Challenge, day 29)

One of the ways you can get to know your characters a little better is by conducting an interview with them.  Asking them the right kinds of questions can reveal things about them that you might not have thought about, or give you new insights into what really makes them tick.

This is a great pre-NaNoWriMo exercise, because it allows you to interact with your character without actually writing any of your story (because you have to wait until November 1 to do that).

So this evening, I’ve invited Nicholas Fletcher, who is the love interest of Celia Winterbourne, the main character of my “Daughters of August Winterbourne” series, by for a little chat.  We catch up to him just before the beginning of Book 3 in the series, working title, “Daughters Abroad”.

Me:  Good evening, Nicholas.  It’s a pleasure to see you again.

Nicholas Fletcher:  Good evening.  It’s a pleasure to be here.  So this is your new blog, is it?  {Looks around}  I like it. The pictures up there {points to top of page} are nice.

Me:  Thanks!  Yes, this is the new place.  I’ve been here almost two months now, and I like it a lot.  So, for the benefit of readers who haven’t met you yet, could you describe yourself?

NF:  Well, er, I’m tall.  Six feet, or maybe just a hair under that.  I suppose I’d describe myself as slender.  I have dark hair and eyes, and I currently have a beard.  Both my hair and my beard could use a trim at the moment, since I’ve been on a ship for the last two and a half weeks.

Me:  Why have you been on a ship?

NF:  Why ask me?  You’re the author.  Don’t you know?

Me:  Of course I know.  But they {gestures toward blogsphere} don’t.

NF:  Oh, right.  I forgot.  Well, I’m on my way from Tarmania to Boston, where I’ll be attending the Boston Institute of Science this spring.  Finishing up my doctorate.

Me:  So you started your doctorate elsewhere?

NF:  Yes, at the Royal Academy of Science at Oxford.

Me:  But you had to leave there?

NF:  {grimaces}  Yes.  Ever since my heritage was revealed last spring…

Me:  Which is?

NF:  Well, I never knew it when I was growing up, but it turns out that my family isn’t really British after all, but Tarmanian.  And since Britain is currently at war with Tarmania, I was forced to leave the Academy.

Me:  So tell me about your family?

NF:  Well, there are my parents, of course.  We’ve always gotten on well, though my father was forced to disown me last fall when I came to Tarmania to take over my birthright.  They’re currently living in hiding so they can’t be abducted and used as hostages against my good behavior.  And there’s my sister Lillian, who’ll be sixteen later this month.  She’s very bright, made it into the Academy last fall.  I’m very proud of her.

Me:  Any others?

NF:  Not any more.  I did have a younger brother, Nathaniel, three years younger.  But he died four and a half years ago.  Hunting accident.

Me:  So where and when were you born, and where do you call home now?

NF:  I was born in my parents’ home near Southampton, in April of 1848, which means I’ll be twenty-seven in a few months.  As to where I call home now…that’s a bit trickier.  See, I still think of England and Southampton as “home”, but since I can’t go back there at the moment…I’d say that Fezhir Castle, which is in the town of Koshika in the county of Fezhir in northwestern Tarmania, is more or less my “home” now.

Me:  You live in a castle?

NF:  Well, yes.  I’m Count Fezhir, you see.  So it goes with the territory.  But it’s not much of a castle, I’m afraid.  Very old and run-down.  And impossible to heat in the wintertime.  Trust me.

Me:  So who is your best friend?

NF: Am I allowed to say Celia Winterbourne?

Me:  Well, besides her.

NF:  Oh.  {Ponders}  That’s trickier.  I don’t have a lot of friends at the moment.  A lot of my former friends more-or-less abandoned me when the truth came out about my Tarmanian heritage.  But James Dixon was very kind to me last fall.  I’d count him as a friend.  I think Karolyi Sebestya, who is my steward back in Tarmania, is a friend, of sorts, though she’s…well, let’s just say that’s gotten a bit complicated in recent weeks.  And of course, Kel Herzhik is going to be my roommate for the next few months.  He’s a diplomat, currently assigned to the Tarmanian Embassy in America.  The problem is that while I like him, I know he’s really been sent to America with me so he can spy on me.  So I can’t completely trust him, and I think trust is important in a friendship.

Me:  Makes sense.  So what are three things you liked to do as a child?

NF:  Hmmm, good question.  I loved horseback riding.  I got my first pony for Christmas when I was nine.  And I was fascinated by trains.  I loved riding on them, any chance I got, which was never often enough for me.  And I guess…I just enjoyed doing things with my brother, Nathaniel.  In modern terms, I guess you’d say we liked “hanging out” together.  We got into a lot of mischief, though.

Me:  Oh?  Like what?

NF:  Well, there was the time we decided to go off on an overnight fishing trip–without telling our parents.  I was ten, I think, and Nathaniel was seven.  It was a long time before Mum forgave us for that one.  And there was the time we let all of Mr. Hagan’s sheep out of the pen.  Well, we’d sort of adopted this dog, you see, and we thought he was a sheep dog, only it turned out that he…wasn’t.  And then there was this housemaid we really didn’t like–she was always cross with us–so we used to leave frogs and snakes in her bed, things like that.

Me:  What is your biggest secret, right now?

NF:  That’s easy.  It’s that I’m really a British spy, only pretending to have accepted my Tarmanian heritage so I can report on their activities from inside.

Me: And your biggest fear?

NF:  That the Tarmanians will win this war, and I’ll be trapped in this lie for the rest of my life.  That I’ll never be able to marry Celia and settle down and raise a family.  Right now, I don’t even know when I’ll see her again, if ever.  Is there any hope for us?

Me:  I can’t tell you that.  If I did, it would change some of the decisions you’ll have to make in the next couple of books, and that would cause me all kinds of problems.  But I will ask you not to give up hope.

NF:  That’s far easier said than done, I’m afraid.

Me:  I know, and I’m sorry.

NF:  So is there anything you can tell me about the next book?

Me:  Well, like I said, I can’t give too much away.  But I can tell you that there are some surprises in store for you.  Good ones, I hope.  But you’ll also have to make some of the most difficult decisions of your life before it’s all over.

NF:  That…sounds ominous.

Me:  It is, a bit.  But promise me that you’ll come and talk to me again as I write the next book.

NF:  I would be delighted, of course.

Me:  Thank you, Nicholas.  And now, I’d best be wrapping this up.  It’s way past my bedtime.

NF:  Good night, dear lady.

Me:  Good night, Nicholas.


Has anyone else ever interviewed one of their characters?  What did you learn about them?



About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s