Today I'm happy to welcome Cate Morgan, who is a fellow Samhain author and who shares the same wonderful editor Holly Atkinson, and her character Tara from her just-released novel Brighid's Flame.
Learn it easy, or learn it hard. You don’t mess with New York City.
Keepers of the Flame, Book 3
Tara Fitzpatrick is amazed how far she’s come since the Seven-Year War, when she and her best friend Stephen eked out a bare-bones existence in the Central Park Shanties. Now she has it all: Stephen at her side, rewarding work for the powerful Vincent Dante’s foundation, and a budding romance with Julien, Vincent’s heir.
If only the Underground movement would stop inciting civil unrest against Vincent’s efforts to rebuild the Big Apple, Tara’s life would be perfect.
Then Julien is shot before her eyes, shattering Tara’s world. Her pursuit of the shooter leads her down a rabbit hole dug by betrayal, misconceptions, and inescapable truth.
Suddenly the fate of an entire city rests on her shoulders. The man she was trained to protect is the man she is now forced to destroy. And the acceptance of her true destiny as a Keeper of the Flame comes at a terrible price—if she even survives the fight.
But if she’s lucky, perhaps the fight alone will be enough to save the city she loves.
Warning: Contains powerful alpha men, kick-ass women, dark secrets, and cat-and-mouse games. Also, explosions—because explosions are fun.
1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in?
Yes, a court order is a valid answer. If Tara were to see a psychologist, it would be because she was ordered to by her superiors. Being in private security in an apocalyptic New York, she is essentially military during a shattering era of human history. That's a lot of pressure for a girl from the Central Park Shanties!
2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?
Tara's issues are combination of both, but mainly internal. She was with her mother when she died in the first attacks of the Seven-Year War, and she a majority of the war either in the system in a series of horrible homes, being very angry and restless and unable to control any part of her life. She was a fighter, that's for sure! When she was rescued from the Shanties--a whole Lord of the Flies situation--she was safe for the first time years. Then her world is turned upside down when she learns those she loves and admires have been keeping some pretty dark secrets from her, and she feels betrayed. And--here's the kicker--she discovers that she's not entirely human. And yet she has humanity's fate quivering in the palm of her hand.
3. It's always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do?
Tara stands to attention and looks straight ahead until asked (or ordered) to sit. When she sits, she does so bolt upright, on the edge of her seat, ready for action at a moment's notice.
4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be?
She has trust issues, so she doesn't say much. She'll answer direct questions because she must, but she won't give away a whole lot. not even in body language. She may admit to being weary, however, because there hasn't been a single day of her life since the War started that she hasn't been fighting.
5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?
Tara doesn't really drink, and she doesn't have any other vices other than really bad coffee, because she doesn't like to be out of control. If she's in a bar, it's to meet someone--her best friend Stephen, a contact. She'll order coffee, and get right back to business, or talk to Stephen about the session.
6. When you're building characters, do you have any tricks you use to really get into their psyches, like a character interview or personality system (e.g., Myers-Briggs types)?
It's pretty rare when a character more or less downloads themselves into my brain to tell me their story. (In fact, it's a little disorienting when they do.) And every book is more or less different as far as my prep work and drafting process is concerned. But, generally, I have four things that go into a character's profile, all sourced from theatre techniques:
1) Character Sketch--not just physical appearance, but notes on their body language, where they live, any objects that are close to them. Their wants and desires.
2) Back Story--birth, background, childhoods, first kiss, relationships and friendships, all the way up to the point where the story starts.
3) Dream--this is fast-drafted, an almost stream of conscious depiction of one of my character's dreams. It usually runs a page or two at most, and I highlight all the repeated images and symbols to help me tap into that character's psyche.
4) Wardrobe--what would the character for certain occasions? What rituals do they perform in their dressing or grooming that stand out? Why? Is their closet messy, or perfectly organized? I'll refine this as I get plot points down and a scene list. But they all have that one object or wardrobe piece that defines their character. For Tara, it's her uniform.
Cecilia says: Tara sounds like a fascinating character, and your book sounds really interesting! Thanks so much for stopping by.
You can find Cate at her website, which includes buy links.
If you're a published author and would like to have a character come by or if you're unpublished and would like some help with one, please email me at cecilia (at) ceciliadominic (dot) com.