Monday 29 September 2014

Writing Characters - Angelina & Zack

Writing Angelina & Zack

It was 2007 when I first put pen to paper and wrote the opening sentences of WAITING ON YOU. I was in a long distance relationship that would ultimately end before I completed the book, but I was always clear about what I wanted the book to say, and whose story I wanted to tell. With the book already released in the summer, I figured now would be a good time to tell you what it was like to write the two main characters, Angelina and Zack.


Angelina is a fourteen year old in a very difficult situation. She has no friends at school (through no fault of her own), and spends most of her time dreaming of the day that "Prince Charming" will fall head over heels in love with her and whisk her away from her dreadful life. Her mother is an alcoholic who doesn't seem to care whether her daughter's happy and her sisters both seem to live to make her as miserable as possible. They live in a council house, survive on whatever money her mum doesn't spend on alcohol and a lot of responsibility sits on Angelina's shoulders. Her sisters don't seem to want to contribute to buying her new clothes or making sure she eats, and they also lay a lot of pressure on her to look after them as well. She is a fourteen year old turning forty.

So, when she gets a chance to go online and make "real" friends she takes that chance and sees it as the start to a whole new life for her. In a way she's right, it is a new beginning, but no matter how much we may wish that the virtual world of the internet is real and safe, it's not and in reality, well, it sometimes sucks.

She wasn't a hard character to write. I imagined her as a thin, pale and sickly looking girl who may have come across as distant and aloof to her class mates, which is one reason why none of them have welcomed her with open arms. The issues Angelina face happen all around the world, her father has never been in her life and people seem to blame her for that. Whilst I am sure that a lot of what she thinks other people feel about her isn't true, sadly some of it is. She's a sad, scared little girl really, who just wants her mum to wake up and realise that she's drowning in the deep end with no one to rescue her.

Which brings us to Zack...


Zack is sixteen and his life could not be more different to Angelina's. He lives with his parents and siblings in a nice house in London. His mum works, and his Dad is a respected surgeon. He's never known what it's like to go hungry, nor has he really experienced bullying. He's the second oldest child in his family and has a few good friends. However, that same level of responsibility is resting on his shoulders too. He makes sure that his four younger siblings get to and from school okay, cooks, cleans and makes sure everyone is fed, watered and in bed by the time his parents get home from work. He doesn't seem to mind it too much, but for me, it still feels like that there is more responsibility on him than there should be for a sixteen year old. However, Zack doesn't see anything wrong with it as his older brother had the same job when he was still at secondary school.

His family is loving, caring and always there for each other. Zack has his exams in the summer and knows that once he starts college, the responsibilities he carries will be handed to the next in line. He's already got a bunch of friends in the chat room where he meets Angelina and he's got a bit of a saviour complex. Always wanting to help, to make sure everyone is okay.

As a character, he was my first male main character and I was worried I would find it harder to write a teenage boy, but once I got into the swing of things, it all seemed to click into place and Zack grew as a character and a person before my very eyes. This book was my first attempt at a romance without any other crime or mystery sub-plots and I do think I managed to capture the story well.

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. One thing I love about releasing one a year, and having so many already written is that I get to look back a few years later and rediscover my characters and their stories hidden in the pages. Please feel free to drop me a review once you've read the book!

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