Since you’ve been writing for so long there must no be one character you’ve created who now stands atop a mountain made from the corpses of his fellows screaming “Look at me! I am the best! I have conquered you lesser creations and made you unto nought but dust and memories!”. That is to say: of all the characters you’ve written about over the years which one holds that special place in your heart as “the favorite”? And what is it about them that makes them so special?
Is it really bad to admit I can’t remember that many of my characters?! 9 out of 10 times I write a story I put in on my blog (or in a little newsletter for my friends at school before that was an option… I was a cool kid) and then I forget most of the details. I didn’t even print out copies of those older ones for myself, which was clearly an oversight. They’ll be worth money some day!
To add insult to injury, I think at the moment my favourite characters might be some I haven’t technically written yet, unless you count a few pages scrawled out on loose paper that have since been lost! They are going to be in July’s book, which is for kids, and they’ve been growing in my brain for a few years now. Their names are Amelia Trousers and Snooky Jim – what’s not to love?!
I suspect that the more time you spend with a character, whether they’re loitering in the back of your mind or there on the page, the more you get to like them. That would explain why a lot of the ones I’ve come up with in the past have been banished to the misty watercolour corners of my mind – I didn’t start writing full novels, requiring large amounts of concentrated attention, till last year. I mean, I started a couple (as you do), but never really got very far.
The first novel I began (she said, tangentially) was based around an essay I had to do for Religious Education when I was about 13. We were asked to write creation myths for different countries from the perspective of the deity and I quite liked that notion. The exercise stayed with me and a few years later a book started to grow out of the idea.
It was a fantasy thing that began with what I thought at the time was a pure dead original creation story, although now I have reservations on that score… There were four gods – well, two gods and two goddesses, I think – and they represented the elements. I think the plot was that one of them wanted to be mortal and the others weren’t happy about it, so she ran away.
I know I named a couple of them after classical names for the winds – googling it I’m thinking maybe it was the male gods I did that for because Boreas rings a bell… that tells you everything about how much they stayed with me, doesn’t it?! But actually I still think there might be something in that story. There’s a lot to be said for creating your own world to play with.
I don’t just forget characters out of hand – that would be churlish in the extreme. I don’t have one favourite, though! I still have a lot of time for the cast of Torchwood:Dundee, which was a spoof (fairly obvious of what) that myself and a couple of other people came up with in uni around 2007. I had particular fondness for Shaktar, who was our Tosh character, and Teuchter, who was our Ianto equivalent. I wrote one of the stories that decided their characterisation and both of them were quite tragically funny but generally useless people.
In terms of 12 Books, I’m quite fond of Victor McGlynn, my Western protagonist. Overall this year I’ve spent more time thinking about him than some of the others, partly because the western was one of the genres I was less confident about, and I think he’s perhaps a more considered character as a result. The downside to that was that he was much slower to write, as I felt I owed it to him to get down things he would definitely say and do – there’s a lot less stream of consciousness blethering in that book (with the result that it’s the smallest word count so far). I’ve no idea whether he’ll appeal to anyone else, but I like him!