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Most Stubborn Character – Zack from Butterfly

Originally Posted on 26th April 2013 on Shattering Words as part of the Butterfly Blog Tour

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Available on Kindle and Paperback

Over the years I’ve had my fair share of stubborn characters. I’ve had characters that were irritatingly stubborn with their peers but also characters who were purely stubborn with me. Occasionally, most frustratingly, I have one that refuses to cooperate with anyone, me especially. Mary from Secrets Clad in Light was particularly stubborn with me, refusing to cooperate whatsoever, and although she had stubborn streaks within the novel she seemed almost agreeable there when compared to the run-around that she gave me.

It seems there’s always a competition between my characters for the one that is most difficult and stubborn to work with and in my latest novel, Butterfly, young Zack became triumphant.

I almost don’t even know where to begin with him. It was required for him to be a little stubborn and, knowing what I did about his background when I first started writing him, it was perfectly understandable also. For a while it was tolerable because it served the story in the way I had imagined but no matter how long I wrote him, or what point in the story we were in, some way or another he was always fighting something.

In his defence, I would say that if anyone had any reason to fight it would be him. Zack endured a lot in his childhood and from the beginning it is easy to tell that, as much as he acted like things were fine and he was in control, he was someone with turmoil in his head, someone with shattered trust that left shards around a heart that had endured irreparable damage. Zack was the most resilient when it came to the changes that were forced upon him at the start of the book because he had somewhat gotten used to the misery he was living and he had created all the necessary defences inside himself to cope with them as much as possible. He wasn’t ready to let those defences down and he certainly knew what letting them down meant; it would give people the chance to get close to him, hurt him, and leave.

Zack was not only stubborn when confronted but also when he was the one doing the confronting. When he sensed that something was wrong with Alex and that the person he was closest to was suffering silently he was very strong and adamant in his approach and he would not give up. While previously his attempts were to protect himself from further pain, this time his stubbornness was used to protect the only person that he ever felt was worth caring for. He wasn’t going to give up on someone he loved do deeply, though never would he have accepted the same type of response from the other either. There are a few things that Zack finds worth protecting; those things take all his determination and strength, especially if it means persisting the way he does with Alex.

With me, I suppose Zack’s stubbornness was also well-founded; he refused to do things he wasn’t ready to do and at times that halted what I had planned for him. However, it made way for more interesting, sometimes heart-breaking, moments as everyone struggled to get through to him and as Zack broke slowly but surely…

A small taste of Zack’s resilience…

Ellis turned him around harshly, looking him deep in his eyes. He wasn’t fine now and he wasn’t going to be fine later. “You know that this is more than you can handle by yourself.”

“That’s not true.”

“You’re worried about yourself and you’re worried about how you’re going to take care of Alex with this. Why are you fighting us when you know we can help with both?” Zack held firmly onto the windowsill, his body beginning to shake from repressed sobs. Ellis reached out and touched his back gently, “It’s alright to be scared and worried, Zack; you’re human.”

He turned the boy around slowly and pulled him closer, taking small subtle steps to close the last of the distance. “No,” Zack began pushing him away, his strength wavering, “stop.”

“Zack, it’s alright to be scared.”

“I’m not scared!!” He shouted out and with that went his remaining strength; he collapsed into Ellis’ waiting arms.

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Character Interview: Ellis McGowan from Butterfly (Forgotten Children, #1)

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Available on Kindle and Paperback

Today we’ll be talking to Ellis McGowan, the psychiatrist who worked with the children in the much-talked about Abbey disaster.

Originally, we hoped and planned to interview Zack and Alex, the two eldest victims of the tragedy, whom have been in your care for the past few months. What is the reason you have turned up in their place?
The situations they’ve been in lately, the things they’ve been through, have made them eager to please but, from getting to know them, I realise that this isn’t what they’d want for themselves; they don’t want to talk about this to anyone they don’t trust. I wouldn’t want them to feel like they had to do something to please me, or anyone else. I gave them a choice, they took the one that felt right to them and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You seem to have gotten to know them quite well in the past few months, something you had mentioned was certainly not going to be easy. Was it truly very difficult for you?
It was difficult for everyone. I felt an unbelievable amount of pressure to make things right for everyone and to do that I needed to be wise in my approach with all the children. Zack and Alex are particularly…mature so even the way I dealt with them had to be different from the way I dealt with the younger ones. That made it difficult for me. I consulted with my wife also; that put pressure on her. It was certainly difficult for them too, of course; they went from holding everything inside themselves like a secret that needed to be protected with their lives and to take them out of that took a lot of effort on their part.

It’s been known for a while that your wife, though unofficially, played quite a big part in all this because you took Zack and Alex into your home. That’s unusual practice, isn’t it?
It was an unusual situation; sometimes unusual situations need to be tackled in some unusual, possibly controversial, ways.

Do you worry about the responses you received due to this decision?
The decision came quickly but not easily; I did it for the benefit of the children. If I wanted to think only of myself I would have let the state put Zack and Alex in another institution before they were ready, away from all the rest, and put my mind at ease that I could go home and take myself away from it all for a few hours. I didn’t; I went straight from work in the hospital where the younger children were to work at home where they were. That meant it was always on my mind and I was always trying to move things in the right direction. Even if I questioned myself at times I still knew I was doing the right thing for them; if other experts believe they could have received the same results in another way then that’s great, they’ll have something to work with if such a tragedy were to arise again.

You ended up taking the two boys in permanently, do you think that decision had anything to do with having taken them into your home?
My eldest, prior to Zack and Alex, was actually adopted so I’ve never been closed off to the thought of adopting again. One way or another this could have happened.

How is the family right now? They’ve gone through quite a lot of changes these past few months.
My eldest was a little apprehensive at first but my wife and I prepared her well; it didn’t take her too long to see the boys as part of the family. My wife…is incredible; she was in the late stages of her pregnancy when this all happened but she really worked hard and took it all in her stride. Alex warmed up to us all quicker than Zack but I think they’re finally grasping that they have family now. It’s a wonderful thing that my youngest will grow up seeing them as older brothers.

And you? How do you feel about all this now, especially now that you have good results?
I…almost don’t know how I feel. I struggled for a while to get the best results for everyone and, though things are far from perfect, now that things have fallen into place I feel good about everything. I think the best part is that it made me realise the strength and love within my family; as long as I have that to support me I feel like I can tackle anything. I love Zack and Alex like my own children, my family too, so I can only hope that they’ll always be aware of the strength and love we have for them so they can also feel like they can tackle anything.

Character Interview: Henry from Secrets Clad in Light

Originally posted as part of a Tour Stop at A Blue Million Books

Character Bio: Henry is the young protagonist from Secrets Clad in Light. With little education he spent most of his life working for the upper-class where Seth, the black sheep of the family, was in his care. Headstrong about his desires he always prepares himself for the consequences of his actions, even those of loving another man. Although not very trusting by nature he is known to be very caring and protective of those around him.

Tell us about your favourite scene in the book.

I felt so many things in the moment I realised Seth was still breathing. The way those breaths felt, the way they sounded… It was all so terrifying. A part of me felt a sense of relief though, a part of me was happy that for at least one moment longer he was still here with me.

What’s the best trait your author has given you? What’s the worst?

Perhaps my best would be my caring personality. Although it is a trait that gets me into plenty of trouble I don’t regret it. Certainly my indecisiveness. Had it not been for other’s influences I don’t think I could have ever made certain decisions. When things progress, when I feel satisfied, a feeling of dread washes over me and I think back, wondering if had I not been assisted would I have made the same choices that I did. Of course, while the path one didn’t choose always appears more dazzling than the one they did perhaps I take worrying about that to an extreme.

Do you have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?

I don’t want to appear…ungrateful; I’m aware that things have improved considerably but I do have my sights set on a better place to live. I’m prepared for the difficulties that come with trying to get that.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

A day with no responsibilities eh? Perhaps I would spend the entire day worrying about having no responsibilities… I think that by the time I stop worrying, at the very least, half my free day would have disappeared… Being burdened, showing others you’re burdened…it’s troublesome, don’t you think? I try not to appear burdened by responsibility for a little time each day; I don’t want others to worry. I like to spend that time cherishing the one closest to me; I’d like to make more happy memories.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? What did you learn from it?

It had to be the moment I lost Seth. For however long it was, it was a terrifying experience. I think so much happened in that moment and everything thereafter that I’m not too sure what I learnt. I suppose you could say that I learnt how quickly things can change. Maybe that was also the moment I realised that my indecisiveness is more of a problem than I ever thought. I’m not sure if that is a good thing. After all, learning about something you can’t really control only makes you feel more helpless.

Tell us about your best friend.

Seth is my best friend. I don’t think I could ever imagine anyone else in that role. A best friend knows who you are, more than who you are on the surface; they know the ‘you’ that is deeper than what anyone else can see. Even while knowing that they accept you and your differences. I don’t think him and I could be any more different and yet I never feel more accepted than when I’m with him.

What do you like best about Seth? What about the least?

It’s two sides of the same coin I believe. His resilience to things is admirable; I think faced with many difficult situations he still tries his utmost to persevere. Of course, as someone who tries so hard to care for him that type of resilience is easily seen as stubbornness through my eyes.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

Things could certainly be better but I’m not foolish enough not to be aware that things could also be far worse. I’m accepting the moment as it is; I won’t ask for more than what I already have.