Friday 10 May 2013

Writing Characters - Tara & Kaolin

Writing Characters - Tara & Kaolin

When you're writing a series, one of the important things is that you actually *like* the characters. Luckily, when I started the DYING THOUGHTS series and made Tara the main character, I fell in love with her pretty much straight away. So, here's a piece that discusses the two main people in that series of books.


I named Tara after my pet rat - yup, I had pet rats. I had called one Tally (bet you can guess why!) and it seemed fitting to name my next character after my two creatures. As I've said in past interviews, I got the idea for the DYING THOUGHTS series when I was walking round ASDA at some stupid time in the morning because I couldn't sleep. I had wanted to write a series because of my disappointment at having to say goodbye to Tally and know that I would probably never get to write about her again. So, the idea was born and along with that the character.

Tara strikes me as the typical teenager who has a famous father. She lost her mother at a young age and her dad gave up his career in the music industry to make sure that Tara was well looked after and loved. She, however, may have disagreed with the way he did it. Like telling her that her mother had died from a battle with cancer. The premise of the books is simple, Tara has a "gift". She inherited from her mother and was unaware of that for the majority of the first book. She never knew where the gift had come from and why, when she touched objects that belonged to someone who had died, she would have a vision of their last moments on earth.

For the majority of the first book, Tara had no idea about the history of her gift and it was more of an annoyance for her. Writing her was always a joy because when I thought I had pushed her to her limits, she would turn around and surprise me. She had been the centre of attention for a while in her early school years when her dad was still famous and they rubbed shoulders with other families. After her mother's death and her dad's retirement, that stopped and Tara became the typical loner. She was the opposite of Tally, she didn't care (and I'm not just saying that, she really did NOT care) and then along came Kaolin.

Once she realised that she could have a friend who was not as freaked out by who her father was, basically someone who did NOT care that her father had been famous, she found a kindred spirit. Don't think they were alike in any way though. Kaolin and Tara were as different as chalk and cheese. They made it work though.

I've recently finished the fifth book in the DYING THOUGHTS series and I have to say that Tara can still surprise me. As I want her to go one way, she'll stomp her foot down and say "nope, not gonna happen." Other times I think of her not doing something and she's all for it. You have to learn as a writer that when you mould and create these characters, they do become life like. They are not real in the literal sense, but they are real to us. There have been times in the five books where I have hated what I am putting Tara through, have shed tears at her hurt. I think that just makes her feel more real.


Kaolin was always planned to be an integral part of the DYING THOUGHTS series. She was always going to be Tara's friend. I didn't know how close they would become because sometimes if you force it, make the friendship too close then it'll seem fake and wrong. Kaolin had her own tortured past and she herself goes through a lot in the books. She's also the voice of reason to Tara's insane ideas and theories.

When I first introduced them to each other, I wasn't sure if it would work out. There were times when I thought that maybe Tara would push it too far and that would be the end of their friendship. However, if nothing else, they have become closer as I write each book. As I said, they are VERY different, but it works for them. Kaolin is a "peek" as Tara says. Peek being someone who is both popular and a geek. Kaolin is someone that the popular kids want to get into their circle and wonder why she bothers with Tara. I'll say this for her, no matter how much Tara may piss her off at times she is a very loyal friend.

The good thing about their friendship is that they both know when to push and when to back away. They go through good times and bad together and I like to think that even when I close the books and write the ending to the whole series that years from now, they will still be as close as they are now. Secondary school (high school to those from the US) is a hard thing to go through on your own, especially when you're like Tara who seems to attract trouble like it's going out of style and having someone like Kaolin around who can ground you and get you to count to ten before lashing out is a must for everyone who has to go through that experience.

She seems to be able to seek out the truth behind Tara's own worries and even now, as I write book six in the series, I can't see them parting ways. I have a friend like that myself who has been through thick and thin with me, good and bad and we're still the best of friends. I like to think that Tara and Kaolin have that going on too.

You can get the first and second DYING THOUGHTS books on Amazon Kindle as well as many other e-book retailers. The third is due out on July 8th 2013. Follow Joey Paul on Facebook or her on this blog for updates about her books and other ventures.

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