How old are you? How old do you feel? I just turned forty, but I’m still twenty-five inside.
Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not? I think so. My parents both worked but my grandma took care of me. I always thought of her like the fairy god mother from Cinderella. I always had lots of friends. All the kids liked to come swim in the pool. So I was never neglected or lonely.
Are you in a relationship? Tell me about your past relationships? How did they affect you? I’m married. Roger works too much, but he’s a great provider and he’s always bringing me neat gifts from his business trips. I don’t really have past relationships to speak of. Roger was my first serious relationship. I mean sometimes I fantasize about my first love, but that’s just day dreaming.
What do you care about? Making the world a better place. All we need is love, right? I just want everyone to be happy. I send money to all sorts of charities.
What are you obsessed with? Staying pretty and desirable. It’s a full time job looking like this.
What is your biggest fear? Being alone.
What is the best thing that ever happened to you? Getting married to Roger, of course. Our wedding was so romantic.
What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? I get embarrassed rather easily. A side-affect of being a wife and mother trying to be perfect, but I think the most embarrassing is still the time little Shelley walked in on Roger and me, um well in the heat of passion. I was mortified. She screamed and ran to her bedroom and slammed the door. I have no idea what she thought she saw. Excuse me, my face is getting hot just thinking about it. Can we be done now?
Tell me your biggest secret. I’m thinking about having an affair. I think about it all the time. It started out as a little game of Who would it be? But now, I’m obsessed.
What one word defines you? Romantic
My Novel Draft
Today it’s my antagonist’s turn to answer some questions:
How old are you? How old do you feel? Twenty-five. Twenty-six? Twenty-seven. Okay, fine. I’m thirty-one but don’t you dare tell anyone.
Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not? No. Not really. I had a really bad mom. She was a drug addict, had abusive boyfriends, the works. But it got better when I met Verity. Verity had a good mom. She took care of me.
Are you in a relationship? Tell me about your past relationships. How did they affect you? How did they affect you? Oh, wow. How long do we have? Just kidding. I guess it depends what you mean by relationship. I like people. I like lots of people, and they like me.
What do you care about? Freedom. Nobody tells me what to do. And money. Freedom takes money.
What are you obsessed with? Getting what’s mine. People owe me.
What is your biggest fear? That people will stop thinking I’m beautiful. That they’ll stop paying attention to me. Abandonment. I’m sick of being abandoned.
What is the best thing that ever happened to you? Meeting Verity. My life changed the day she took me home after school and her mom treated me as if I was her daughter too. I finally had a family.
What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? I don’t get embarrassed. I mean, there are plenty of sex-tapes out there.
What is your biggest secret? I’m not who people think I am. They all think because I look like this, there’s nothing under the hood. But they are so wrong. I have plans in motion that will blow their minds.
It’s going to be hard to choose just one. I liked a lot of the names I came up with yesterday, and they are all somehow characters in my mind already, so I may only choose one to share today, but let them all participate in time.
I took a look at the suggested questions from Novel Writing: 10 Questions You Need to Ask Your Characters by Brenda Janowitz and they are good, somewhat intense first questions to get to know a character. The questions in the article are written in third person. I changed them to second person / direct address, to ask the character the questions. I decided to start with Merle Atlantis Tremble. Here’s my interview:
Hello, Mr. Tremble. I only have a few questions this morning, but they’re a bit personal. I hope you don’t mind. First off, it’s pronounced Trem-blay, Trem-BLAY, not Tremble, and I do mind, I need to get back to my studies, but it’s not like I have a choice, is it. Okay, let’s make this quick. Just ten questions.
How old are you? How old do you feel? I’m twenty-six, but I feel like I’m a hundred and twelve.
Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not? No. Kids are mean. I was nice, I shared, I tried to play their games, I did everything I was told, but they excluded me. But I was happy with my books. None of the characters were mean to me. Not me personally, anyway.
Are you in a relationship? Tell me about your past relationships? How did they affect you? The woman in the apartment down the hall seems to like me, but no. I don’t have time for that. I thought I was in love with my lab partner in college, but she hasn’t spoken to me since we graduated and she moved back home. Strangely, I don’t miss her. I have too much to think about without silly romanticizing. I guess I have a good relationship with my mom and my sister at least when we see each other on holidays. Dad always seems mad at me, like my existing somehow is a disappointment, but he’s pretty easy to avoid, and Mom always says he loves me “in his way.”
What do you care about? Oh, everything. I like to read the great thinkers, philosophy, literature, physics, eastern religions, technology, political science. You name it, I’m reading it.
What are you obsessed with? Right now? Um, I guess I’m super-obsessed with Grand Unified Theory, but I’m also obsessed with Hegelian dialectics . . . Oh, and the Idiocracy.
What is your biggest fear? Home invasion . . . No, life having no purpose . . . No, snakes filling up my apartment . . . No, I’ll have to get back to you on that.
What is the best thing that ever happened to you? Ever? I’d have to say um, making it to the national spelling bee. I didn’t win, but I made it to nationals. I was on TV and everything. The worst? That’s easy, being born.
What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? I don’t get embarrassed easily. I don’t really care what people think. You have to care about other people and their opinions to get embarrassed. I guess, for me, missing the word at nationals was embarrassing.
Tell me your biggest secret. My biggest secret, or the worlds biggest secret? Okay, are you ready? None of this is real. None of it. Not you. Not me. Not this room. Not that laptop you’re typing on. It’s all made up in my mind. And yours. I mean, we each make up our own reality, and what people say is real is a consensus of beliefs. It’s true. I mean as true as unreal things can be.
What one word defines you? You know, when I was a kid I hated my middle name, Atlantis—and my last name because everyone pronounced it wrong and kids are just mean—but now, I think my middle name defines me. I’m a lost advanced civilization. I exist in the unseen depths. I am a legend of mythical proportions. Am I real? No one knows.
My Novel Draft
Here are my MCs answers to these questions:
How old are you? How old do you feel? I’m thirty-two but I feel older, maybe around forty-five?
Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not? I had a great childhood, two loving parents that loved me and each other, until that day when I was nine. Dad was just gone. Mom tried her best to keep it together, to give me enough love for both of them, but we were never really happy again.
Are you in a relationship? Tell me about your past relationships. How did they affect you? I always said I was married to the job. I mean, No. I’m not in a relationship. And my past relationships were always casual. I was married to the job. But now, I don’t have that excuse, so . . .
What do you care about? Solving Pauline’s murder. I can’t let it continue to go unsolved. I tried to let it go, but I can’t.
What are you obsessed with? Solving Pauline’s murder. And all the strange connections I keep seeing that no one else seems to get.
What is your biggest fear? That the killer will get away with it. I’m not as afraid that the killer will come after me, I’m afraid that they’ll live in the belief that they can kill without consequence and eventually do it again.
What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst? The best thing that ever happened to me was probably meeting Memphis. She’s been my best friend since elementary school. I don’t know who I’d be without her. Besides that, it was closing my first big case. I was on top of the world. The worst was my dad’s death.
What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? Being served with that Restraining Order at work. At the time I thought it was so unfair, but now, it’s just embarrassing.
What is your biggest secret? I stole evidence and have it in my garage. But actually Memphis knows about that, so it’s not really my biggest secret.
What is the one word that defines you? To everyone else, it’s probably as simple as “tall.” But I think it should be “sharp.”
That was really fun, and a good start to interviewing my characters. I have another list of questions called the Proust Questionnaire that I’ll run them through as well, and hopefully I’ll know my characters better when I’m done.