Guest Post: Creating Powerful Characters

Get ready to explore a gem of mythic fiction in Michael Williams’ Dominic’s Ghosts Blog Tour. Taking place February 13-20, 2019, this blog tour celebrates a new stand-alone novel in Michael’s ambitious City Quartet.

Atmospheric and thought-provoking, Dominic’s Ghosts will take you on a unique kind of journey that involves a conspiracy, legends, and insights from a film festival!

About the Author:
Over the past 25 years, Michael Williams has written a number of strange novels, from the early Weasel’s Luck and Galen Beknighted in the best-selling DRAGONLANCE series to the more recent lyrical and experimental Arcady, singled out for praise by Locus and Asimov’s magazines. In Trajan’s Arch, his eleventh novel, stories fold into stories and a boy grows up with ghostly mentors, and the recently published Vine mingles Greek tragedy and urban legend, as a local dramatic production in a small city goes humorously, then horrifically, awry.

Trajan’s Arch and Vine are two of the books in Williams’s highly anticipated City Quartet, to be joined in 2018 by Dominic’s Ghosts and Tattered Men.

Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent much of his childhood in the south central part of the state, the red-dirt gothic home of Appalachian foothills and stories of Confederate guerrillas. Through good luck and a roundabout journey he made his way through through New England, New York, Wisconsin, Britain and Ireland, and has ended up less than thirty miles from where he began. He has a Ph.D. in Humanities, and teaches at the University of Louisville, where he focuses on the he Modern Fantastic in fiction and film. He is married, and has two grown sons.

Synopsis of Dominic’s Ghosts:
Dominic’s Ghosts is a mythic novel set in the contemporary Midwest. Returning to the home town of his missing father on a search for his own origins, Dominic Rackett is swept up in a murky conspiracy involving a suspicious scholar, a Himalayan legend, and subliminal clues from a silent film festival. As those around him fall prey to rising fear and shrill fanaticism, he follows the branching trails of cinema monsters and figures from a very real past, as phantoms invade the streets of his once-familiar city and one of them, glimpsed in distorted shadows of alleys and urban parks, begins to look uncannily familiar.


Author Links:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Mythical-Realism-The-Michael-Williams-Page-128713900543978/

Guest Post: Creating Powerful Characters

I was asked to write about creating “powerful characters,” which is an interesting distinction from the usual request about “good characters” or “believable characters.”

I could comply with the usual request. Consistency and plausibility are the foundation of any well-drawn character, and a number of writers can do those things and do them ably. But I have a feeling that what’s asked for here is something more—that intriguing moment in fiction where you encounter someone you’ll never forget: Sherlock Holmes, perhaps, or Madame Bovary. Captain Ahab, Hamlet or Gollum.

The figures who haunt you after you close the covers of the book.

Because almost anywhere you look, you can find the standard advice on character plausibility and consistency: writers I know keep notebooks, fill out character sheets, base the people in their stories on the people they know, or “cast” their stories with the screen personalities of appropriate actors or with the best guess at the temperaments of historical figures.

I mean, everyone has heard these methods already. Pick out a tactic that works for you.

Sometimes, though, you hear this complaint: “I just couldn’t relate to the character.” Pay close attention to those moments. Are readers actually saying the character is unrelatable? If so, the solution probably lies in some of the tactics I’ve mentioned above.

However, a lot of the time, what a reader might be saying is, “I couldn’t identify with the character.” And that, to me, is a very different thing. You can believe in a character without that kind of identity that a lot of readers demand: after all, who’d want to be Iago or Saruman, and yet we are fascinated by them, like by something glittering and poisonous. Very often the most powerful characters are figures strange to us, people who stretch our imaginations rather than confirm our assumptions. We do our work as readers in coming to know them, and the fascination of discovery takes the place of the ease in feeling that we already know them.

In short, when I read about a fictional character, I’d rather be asking “What’s up with her?” than resting in the assurance that “she’s just like I would be in that situation.”

My own Vine: An Urban Legend—one of the books in my City Quartet—met the objection of one reviewer that one of the central characters was “unsympathetic”. Well, a drug-addled homeless Elvis impersonator, haunted by paranoia and delusions of grandeur, might not be someone you’d want to buddy up with, much less grow up to be. But I maintain he’s interesting as hell, and his recurrence in the other three volumes—a secondary character in Dominic’s Ghosts, a cameo appearance in the pending new edition of Trajan’s Arch, and one of the two principal figures in the soon-to-be- released Tattered Men—make you more and more acquainted with Tommy Briscoe, so that when you glimpse him from the corner of your eye or when he settles in your sight, I’m hoping you’re curious, eager for more.

All of this without necessarily “identifying with him,” though depending on what book of the Quartet you read first (and you can start with any of them) you may be more sympathetic than if you began somewhere else. Just like living around someone like Tommy: where you start may shape where you end up. But you’ll stretch your thoughts along the way. Explore the character’s contradictions and layers. And that’s the power of characters, and of fiction.

Tour Schedule and Activities

2/13     Ravenous For Reads
www.ravenousforreads.com

2/13     Breakeven Books
https://breakevenbooks.com

2/14     Marian Allen, Author Lady
www.MarianAllen.com

2/15     Inspired Chaos
http://inspiredchaos.weebly.com/blog

2/16     I Smell Sheep
http://www.ismellsheep.com/

2/16     The Book Lover’s Boudoir
https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpress.com/

2/17     Jorie Loves A Story
http://jorielovesastory.com

2/18     The Seventh Star
www.theseventhstarblog.com

2/18     Willow’s Thoughts and Book Obsessions       http://wssthoughtsandbookobsessions.blogspot.com/

2/18     The Horror Tree
www.Horrortree.com

2/19     Sheila’s Guests and Reviews
www.sheiladeeth.blogspot.com

2/20     Jazzy Book Reviews
https://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com/

Amazon Links for Dominic’s Ghosts

Print Version: https://www.amazon.com/Dominics-Ghosts-Michael-Williams/dp/1948042584/

Kindle Version: https://www.amazon.com/Dominics-Ghosts-Quartet-Michael-Williams-ebook/dp/B07F5Z4L18/

Barnes and Noble Link for Dominic’s Ghosts: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dominics-ghosts-michael-williams/1129262622?ean=9781948042581

MSC Cruises

Book Review: You Should Come With We Now

I recently finished a book sent to me by STORGY for review called You Should Come With Me Now by John Harrison.

‘You Should Come With Me Now’ an anthology by M. John Harrison from the wonderful Independent publisher Comma Press boasted a collection of short stories that were quite different and a joy to read, this due in part to the range Harrison possesses; the storylines ranged from people with schizophrenia (are they schizophrenic or were there ghosts living among them), different worlds that only some could see and tales of stalking etc.

What I really enjoyed most about these short stories is that Harrison leaves each one open to the interpretation of the reader. In so much as to say I could think that it means one thing and someone else could have a completely different interpretation and reaction to the same story.

Some of the stories were slow burners at first; hard to get into the story, but by the time the ending drops it leaves you with one line that at first you wouldn’t think is a good ending but plays on the mind long after reading, giving you an understanding of why Harrison concluded the story in this way. These short stories really make you think out of the box in the way Harrison uses descriptions of characters and settings.

Reflecting about which was my favourite, the one that stands out in my mind was about a man and his close friend; whom you can tell he loves but she is married and her husband is a hermit that lives in their attic. He is always up there working on some project but no one knows what it is and the story trundles along to show how his absence from their lives is affecting everyone else. When it gets to the ending, the house gets almost torn apart! My interpretation of it is that he has been working on defending himself from another dimension, which is revealed masterfully at the end for
the rest of the characters to see. Someone else might interpret this story in a different way which is so cool because then it would spark a discussion about why and how they see it their way.

Overall, this collection of short stories was pretty interesting and they didn’t ramble on as many short stories do, being reminiscent of Novellas instead of the delicate craft of the short story. Each time I returned it felt like reading a new book each time, once again highlighting Harrison’s range of writing and the intricate craft of the short story form.

M-John-Harrison

M John Harrison – M. John Harrison is the author of eleven novels (including In Viriconium, The Course of the Heart and Light), as well as four previous short story collections, two graphic novels, and collaborations with Jane Johnson, writing as Gabriel King. He won the Boardman Tasker Award for Climbers (1989), the James Tiptree Jr Award for Light (2002) and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Nova Swing (2007). He reviews fiction for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement, and lives
in Shropshire.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book to review by STORGY. I am in no way being compensated for this review.

Here is the link to the STORGY article.