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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Characters on the Couch: Jacci DeVera's Calla

Today I'm happy to introduce Jacci DeVera and her character Calla McAmis, a mountain lion shifter. The interview reminded me of when I lived in Arkansas for a year, and the wildlife service swore that there were no mountain lions in the state but said there was a $30,000 fine if you killed one. Because government logic, y'all.

Queen of the Hollow

Calla is a young shifter, the only female within miles High Lonesome, her small southern West Virginia hometown. Her mother had managed to keep her safe from the bounty of male mountain lions in the past, but now Calla finds herself alone and without a protector...and the moon is full. 

Haben hasn’t been able to get close to Calla since their first meeting, right around Valentine’s Day. When he shows up at her house a year later, he finds the wounded spit-fire determined for him to keep his distance - despite his instinct to keep her safe. 

Calla must choose to either place her trust and safety to an outsider, or fight off every male mountain lion between here and Charleston with just her wits and a shotgun. The stakes are high and the numbers are against them. Even if they prevail, will Calla be able to keep her heart safe from her protector til sunrise?

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.

Lycanthropy isn’t commonly accepted in Southern West Virginia, so if someone got wind that Calla McAmis believed in mountain lions in Appalachia, much less that people changed into them, she probably would be ordered to go.

Otherwise, Calla has lived a very sheltered life and is now 19, so she might willingly go to a psychologist in order to be able to cope with the modern day world she has just found herself forced into. An excerpt from the story reads:  “I just…want to live like everyone else does. Not like this. Not hidden away. Not scared. Not knowing what to do on a – on a Saturday—or a Tuesday night—or wonder why Taco Bell is so great—or what Instagram is—and have a cell phone. All I know is that I will have to fight when the moon is full. Nobody else does that. I don’t want to, either.”

2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?

I would say it is an internal conflict, a problem coping with the world, without Calla’s mother. Her mother died unexpectedly, and Calla had never been out of her mother’s sight until that moment. So now she has to learn to do everything else, outside of being a shifter, all of a sudden with no one to guide or teach her. Calla’s external conflicts are mostly in the form of other shifter-cats that want to encroach on her territory.

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?

Calla would wait rather awkwardly at the door for you to tell her to sit and where to sit at.

4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be? What will he or she say first?

She’d come across as backwards with a stranger, even one she initiated visiting. She would only answer questions you asked to her. To a question like “Why are you here?” or “What is bothering you?” she might respond with: “I want to be like normal girls.”

CD: Oh, that would be a challenge!

5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?

Calla does not walk into a bar. (The county is probably a dry county anyway.) If she did by some mistake, she would immediately turn around and leave and go home. Home is the only “safe” place to her.

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)?

We “sit down and visit.” There’s a few interview type questions I ask, but I’m always delighted with a question/answer session like this, as it never fails to shed additional light and depth on the characters. A lot of times I’ll take an opportunity to shove the character into an unrelated scenario, and see how she reacts. That teaches me a lot. Plus sometimes it’s enough of a characterization ‘insight moment that it works its way into the story.

About the author:

Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachia herself, Jacci has an intimate knowledge with the ways of life, the people, the inherent magic, and the languages of the South. She writes fantasy, paranormal, and western romance.

Jacci enjoys writing as much as she enjoys napping, cats, cookies, myths, and wolves. The only "rule" she has when she writes is that the story must have a happy ending.

Thrilled with the direction writing, and particularly romance, has taken in recent years with genre lines blurring, her love of fantasy, paranormal, and historicals can intermingle without concern for intolerance.

The journey is as important as the destination itself. Stories are found everywhere.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading! If you would like help with an unpublished character you're stuck with or would like to feature one of your published characters on my blog, please feel free to email me through the contact form or at cecilia (at) ceciliadominic (dot) com

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