Hi to All Our Fabulous Readers!
Today, special guest, author Tori St. Claire stops by to talk up her controversial new book, Explosive, from the sizzling hot and suspenseful Black Opals series. In a step away from our ordinary Q&As or typical guest posts, Tori is going to tackle the ‘elephant in the room’ so to speak and discuss Writing about Realistic characters- leaving out none of the damages and flaws- and Reader Reaction to them. My reaction in my review will act as her case in point.
Humanity in Fiction
One of the things readers frequently tell me is that they enjoy my damaged characters and I’m often asked why I choose to write them. I thought this was a great topic, particularly in light of Sophia Rose’s review on Explosive.
The simple answer is: we are damaged. Me, fellow authors, readers – the human being is a damaged person, in one form or another. And while I like my fiction escapism as much as the next person, I also like to believe that the stories I’m crafting could actually happen. Or, barring the external circumstances, the character-type could exist and could definitely experience a happily ever after.
Therefore my characters are flawed, but this isn’t always something that’s easy to deal with in writing. Those flaws can impact different readers to different degrees. Some will love them, some will abhor them. Every one of us copes with the events around us in a different manner. How we choose to do so may not be how someone else does, and someone else looking in may secretly admire the way someone else handles the same situation, or may criticize.
That brings about the challenge of putting human characters in fiction. How far do you go? How real do you make them? There’s a saying that if you’re going to put a cold in a book, the signs of that cold better make an appearance early on before it manifests. But life isn’t necessarily like that. You can wake up with a cold and likely have missed all the early effects. How often do you sneeze and not really think about why you might have? Then four days later…down for the count!
So how far does an author go?
As far as necessary to effectively impact the reader, be it positively or negatively. But you have to be willing to take that risk. Willing to take a few punches when characters don’t react the way a reader wants them to.
Let’s look at an example we all are probably familiar with: Lord of the Rings and Boromir.
I don’t think there’s a one of us who wanted Boromir to fall prey to the power of the ring. We hoped and prayed he wouldn’t, but Boromir is very human. He is a very weak man, although he has physical strength and admirable goals. We can relate to him because he possesses some of our same basic strengths and weaknesses and I doubt any one of us would look in the mirror and say, “I’m going to take that ring because I’m not strong enough.”
But what if he did stay on with the group? What if he did overcome the temptation? We’d have a drastically different story, that’s what. Just as we’d have a drastically different story if Frodo turned into another Gollum.
If all our characters reacted the way we want them to behave, every book would be the same. Every character would be the same. And the reality of human nature is compromised.
Alyssa is a classic example of maladaptive coping, given the traumatic event she suffered. Sadly, there are too many people who “deal with” things this way. And in her particular event…her suppression is also classic, and it can go on for years before a survivor can look beyond and move forward. For most of the book she’s in the last three stages of trauma, before finally getting into the stage she needs to be in to truly survive in the last portion of the book.
No one wants to be this person. No one thinks we could be this person. But in this case I chose to take the risk and portray a human character who is very much like the majority. (Not all, note. Majority). And I did so deliberately, knowing that she will either connect with folks, or she won’t. It’s a calculated risk.
But if I hadn’t done it, we’d have a totally different story. And if someone is looking to explore the darker and less attractive sides of human nature in their books, that’s the most important factor to remember: Is it the story that demands to be told, or is it what the readers want to hear?
I hope you’ll connect with Alyssa, even from the standpoint that she may be a 180 from your own personality. I hope you’ll connect with Jayce, because I think he is more of who we all would like to be and how we see ourselves. And feel free to let me know! In fact, I’d love to hear your thoughts after you’ve given it a go.
Meanwhile, you can pick up EXPLOSIVE for 2.99 digitally right now. And above all, I hope you’ll be excited that the rest of the Black Opals you can get at a much more affordable price!
Tori St. Claire
Thanks so much for visiting today, Tori, and giving us some food for thought so we can go into reading Explosive and others like it with a new perspective. Tori is truly a professional author with integrity for going exactly where her stories lead her no matter how unpopular and difficult that might prove to be. I love that in an author and it makes me more than willing to offer my reader loyalty (no, she did not compensate me in anyway for saying that- it was a freebie).
I find Damaged Characters an interesting discussion point so please sound off in the comment session about them. Comments will count as entries for the giveaway. Who are some flawed characters from books or movies, you have read/watched in the past? Did you like them or no?
A man on the hunt…
Jayce Honeycutt never imagined returning to his hometown for a wedding would find him confronting the woman he intended to marry. Nor did he anticipate the passion they once knew would burn as hot and bright as ever. Only now Alyssa’s involved with Jayce’s former best friend, and Jayce can’t bring himself to interfere. When he learns Alyssa may be in danger, however, everything changes. As the threats against her life escalate, Jayce will stop at nothing to unveil the secrets she’s hiding. Even if it means risking his heart all over again.
A woman on the run…
Ten years ago, a brutal attack forced Alyssa Martin into a world of solitary darkness. She threw herself into her career, but now her work has led her back into the nightmare of her past and thrust her into a deadly game. When her roommate employs Jayce for her protection, memories compound. She’s never forgotten their shared desire, and her body still craves his masterful touch. Yet Jayce is determined to break down her protective walls, and confiding in him is more frightening than the shadows stalking her. But someone else is determined to control her. To survive, Alyssa must trust in Jayce and bare herself completely.
About The Author
National Bestselling author Tori St. Claire grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.
While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove and writes historical romance as Sophia Garrett. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.
Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds — love.
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