My inspiration for Khalid – my novel’s anti-hero
I am very proud of my current progress on writing Between the Demon and the Deep Blue Sea and I’m grateful for the support of my critique partners and friends, who have had a chance to read some of it. Although, I haven’t begun revising the novel – I’m currently still in the drafting phase (and even that is more of a skeleton draft) – I am excited to share a teaser from the opening chapter.
The winter chill bit into her skin, but Shay valiantly ignored the discomfort as she navigated her way through shadows and moonlight. The heels of her borrowed six-inch stilettos clicked on the pavement. There were no security cameras in the empty parking lot. The lighting dim. And the only other residents nearby were two rooms down, with the curtains drawn.
The Casablanca Motel, located in the part of Vancouver that would never make it into travel brochures, made the perfect hiding spot. Officially, it was a roadside retreat for the desperate, weary traveler. Unofficially, the motel offered its clients services of the check in, make out, and check out variety. The oh-so-romantic decor included an overflowing green garbage bin. Nearby, a rat enjoyed the seedy ambience as it nibbled delicately on a fuzzy, half-eaten slice of pepperoni pizza from Peppito’s Pizzeria…or so the cardboard container claimed. She was sure that Peppito — whoever he was — would love to know that his clientele had expanded to the four-legged variety.
Deciding that it was better to give the rodent and his dinner some privacy, Shay focused on room 409. Her target was in that room. According to the file that she had received from River Cameron, her best friend and boss, the werewolf she was tracking currently went by the name of Ambrose Bellwood. The very active Mr. Bellwood was accused of identity fraud, grand theft auto, money laundering, drug trafficking…and the list went on. Apparently, if one lived as long as werewolves did, you could really diversify your personal portfolio. But it wasn’t until recently, when Bellwood added murder to his repertoire during his escape from police custody, that someone in charge decided enough was enough and the city’s enforcers had been called to deal with the problem. It wasn’t unusual. The Enforcers Academy had more manpower and better resources to deal nonhuman threats, but working for the police meant that they were basically doing this for free. But as River claimed, occasional charity work was good publicity for the Academy.
As an enforcer, Shay had been tasked with the job of hauling Bellwood’s ass back to jail for a much needed time out — okay, so the official job description may have varied a bit in phrasing, but the sentiment was the same.
It was too bad the order hadn’t said dead or alive. A kill order would have saved Shay at least twenty-four hours of surveillance time, not to mention she could have avoided having to squish her feet into heels that were a size too small. The back of her ankles stung with every step. Shay was going to have an angry set of blisters by the time this job was over. Unfortunately, her orders were to bring in Bellwood alive because her contact in the RCMP wanted him to roll over and tattle on his accomplices. That, of course, meant finding a way to get close to him.
It had been River’s idea that the easiest way to get close to him was to play on his weakness for scantily dressed females….hence, the blink-and-it-might-disappear dress and medieval torture devices on her feet.
Shay bent one leg to massage her ankle before continuing the rest of the way to Bellwood’s room. When she was less than a foot away from the door, she paused. Like the rest of the motel, the door needed to be doused in bleach. It was marked with fingerprints and a rainbow of stains. Shay curled her nose at the thought of having to touch her knuckles to the incognito petri dish, but steeled herself to knock.
River needs to give me a raise.
She pulled her hand away from the door after knocking thrice. Absently, she rubbed the back of her dirtied appendage on the ridiculously expensive scrap of cloth she was wearing. The red silk rasped against her skin.
Shay barely managed to get the look of disgust off her face before the door swung open. Bellwood stood on the other side, wearing an unbuttoned white dress shirt and black pants. Both looked expensive.
Well, well, well, I guess crime pays after all.
Shay is such an easy character to write. Her voice comes naturally, but other characters – Khalid, and even River, who both make appearances later – are a bit harder to write. The story is written in third person, but I’m playing it safe and writing most of the novel from Shay’s focal point. I have drafted a chapter – just one – from Khalid’s perspective and it was a difficult transition because I still don’t know him very well as a character.
Which brings me to the question – how well do you actually need to know your characters before you start writing a story?
I never know my characters until I start putting words to paper, but they begin to flesh out as the plot develops. Of course, this may or may not be the best method for writing.
Hope you enjoyed the teaser,
Rika Ashton (aka The Tentative Writer)
“Writing, and reading, can be summarized as the act of taking an individual story and extrapolating the universal from it. Action and intrigue draws us in, but it’s the deeper, more human themes that make a story stick with us.”
via Art Isn’t Anecdote — Discover
In case anyone didn’t know I am a HUGE fan of manga (Japanese comics). When I’m not reading novels or trying to write novels, I’m usually hunting for the latest copies of my favourite manga and there are quite a few series that I am currently obsessed with.
Skip Beat…this one is a bit of a cheat, since I’ve been obsessed with it for years. But I thought I would share it as my number one because I have yet to fall out of love with this funny, romantic, and at times suspenseful series.
Kyouko Mogami lived solely for her childhood friend Shoutaro “Shou” Fuwa. She follows Shou to Tokyo so that he may realize his dream of becoming a famous singer. When his dream is realized, Kyouko overhears the truth behind his decision to bringing her with him: he was using her as a maid.
Shocked and enraged, Kyouko swears to take revenge by outdoing him in show business. With a new look and a new attitude, she joins LME, the agency where Ren Tsuruga (Shou’s rival and the #1 actor of LME) works, in the hopes of achieving her goal of destroying Shou’s pride.
Along the way, she discovers her true self, makes new friends (and enemies), and finds herself at the heart of some interesting situations that will change her life, and the lives of all others involved, forever.
Yona of the Dawn. Words cannot describe how epic this series is. The heroine grows from a spoiled, pampered princess to a warrior in hiding. Also, this series probably has the most complex characters I have ever read. You find yourself rooting for everyone (despite all the bad that has happened) to somehow be friends again at the end.
Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Soo-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when she witnesses her father’s murder!
Yamada and the Seven Witches. This manga was a complete surprise for me. But one word: HILARIOUS! The supernatural elements in this manga are important plot twisters and much random hilarity ensues.
Ryuu Yamada is a second-year student at Suzaku High. Ryuu is always late for school, naps in class and gets abysmal grades. His life is a dead bore. The beautiful Urara Shiraishi, on the other hand, is Suzaku High’s brightest student.
One day, without explanation, their bodies are swapped! Ryuu ends up in Urara’s body, and Urara in Ryuu’s.
Noragami. This was another unexpected, but very pleasant surprise. It’s got great characters, and the central story about a god without a shrine and worshippers but who is trying to get into heaven is such a cool idea. (That summary doesn’t really do it justice and the manga is so much more than that. But I can’t go into a lengthy description without spoilers.)
Yato is a minor god whose dream is to have a lot of followers worshipping him and praying to him. Unfortunately, his dream is far from coming true since he doesn’t even have a single shrine dedicated to him. To make things worse, the only partner he had to help him solve people’s problems, had just quit the job. His godly existence and luck just might change when he stumbles upon Iki Hiyori and saves her life; a feat which also leaves her in quite a predicament so she is stuck with him until her problem gets resolved. Together with Hiyori and his new partner-weapon Yukine, Yato will do everything he can to gain fame, recognition and just maybe, one shrine dedicated to him, as well.
SDK (or Samurai Deeper Kyo). Since I’ve read this manga series over ten times without getting bored and discovering something new each time, it has to go on my top five list. It’s male-focused with a heavy emphasis on action and violence but has moments of comedy.
At the dawn of the 17th century, at the end of the era of civil wars, in a world of chaos, the epic Battle of Sekigahara was joined.One man emerged from the largest battle ever fought on Japanese soil; a terrible warrior of unspeakable power, he was nicknamed ‘the unconquerable.’ Kyoshiro is a peaceful medicine peddler who harbors the soul of an assassin. He accompanies a young bounty hunter across Japan in search of a murderer and on a quest to discover the terrible secret of his own identity.
These are my top five, but trust me when I say it was hard to choose. I have so many manga that I am obsessed with but that does mean I don’t want recommendations. I’m always looking for more great reads! (Especially one’s like Skip Beat…the one month wait between chapter updates is killing me…and it’s even longer to get the bound editions at Chapters.)
Who else is a manga fan? Got any that you are absolutely obsessed with?
Rika Ashton (aka Shameless Manga Addict)
I believe I owe you all an excerpt from my work-in-progress, Dagger of the Sun (or DotS as I affectionate like to call it).
Without further delay…here it is:
The night air was causing gooseflesh to spread over her arms and legs and the flimsy pale blue tunic wasn’t doing much to protect the rest of her either. Delphyne cursed whatever gods had brought the prince back from the barracks tonight of all nights. She judged the distance from her vantage point to the throne room’s entrance to be less than a minute, but the trick would be crossing the crowded floor without being stopped by someone interesting in hearing about a hunter’s tale.
Or I could jump from the balcony.
It honestly didn’t look that high. If she bent her knees on the landing, she would be fine. She leaned over the railing, letting her fingers encircle the cool stone.
“I would advise against it.”
Delphyne swivelled, heart nearly popping out of her chest. “Don’t scare me…I thought you were —”
Apollo raised an eyebrow.
“Nevermind,” Delphyne amended. “Where have you been?”
She had lost track of Apollo seconds after the feast had started. Apollo had noticed a poet friend of his in the crowd and wandered off. After that, it had been difficult to catch sight of him for more than a minute as he flitted around the room like a butterfly.
“Making the rounds,” Apollo said. “But I’m more interested in knowing why you’re standing here peeping at the statues?”
In the moonlight, the statues in the garden behind her looked even more lewd. Not to mention the occasional moans that drifted up from the shadowed maze.
“I was…” She paused. How could she phrase her words so that she didn’t sound like either a coward or a pervert? “I was getting some fresh air.” She finished rather lamely.
“It has gotten rather stuffy.” A pause. “More so now that the prince has arrived.”
“Asclepius told me.” Apollo looked at her, a small smile forming on his lips. “Did the prince really ask you to marry him…by telling you that you’d be a good breeder?”
Delphyne gave him a look that implied she would not be discussing this at length.
“And did you really punch him in response?”
Clearly, her look got lost in translation. “I didn’t have my sword with me, so punching him was my only recourse.”
Since this is a work in progress, I am very open to criticism and feedback…any thing that will help me improve. So please, please, leave a comment or suggestion below.
Now it’s back to the writing board!
–Rika Ashton (aka Book Hermit)