Monday 12 June 2017

Writing Characters: Cat and Jayden


With the book due out for release on June 30th, it seemed like a good idea for today's writing piece to be about what it was like for me to write both Cat, the main protagonist, and her best friend, Jayden from It's Not Always Rainbows. Which you can grab here for 99p before it goes up to the regular price of £2.99. Normally when I do these, I have some idea of what I'm going to put and how it's going to be structured. To be perfectly honest, I'm a bit of a mess today so we shall see how this goes.

I got the idea for It's Not Always Rainbows after a string of attacks in our local park. They were grisly and pretty bad, and I wondered if I could fit it into a story. I'd been playing around with the idea of writing an LGBTQ book mostly because as a bisexual teen, I didn't have stories to read about people like me. I wanted to focus on four teenagers, all of whom were on the LGBTQ rainbows, and all of whom would be affected by the attacks. And so my story was born. It is told from the point of view of Cat, who I'll talk about first.

Cat is sixteen, bi, and heading towards her GCSE exams that will signal the end of school. It's 2013, and while she's out, her parents aren't the most supportive people. They're pentecostal and very big on bible verses. Cat grew up religious, but she decided pretty early on that it wasn't for her. When the attacks start happening, Cat is, to a point, interested in who might be behind them. It's only when one of her online friends becomes the target that she starts to think seriously about finding out who these people are, and how to stop them.

Writing Cat was really enlightening for me. I'd grown up knowing I wasn't straight but not really know what I actually was. I came out when I was eighteen and finally had found a name for my feelings. Putting myself back into a teenage head and writing about the process of both trying to solve the crimes and trying to get her parents to see that there was, is and never will be, anything wrong with her and the people she chooses to love. I was wary of writing such a story for a number of reasons. One, my parents, while my mother is religious, had always been supportive of me and my sexuality. Two, I didn't want to write yet another "coming out" book. Three, I wanted it to be #ownvoices but I wasn't sure if it would be given that our circumstances were very different. And finally four, I didn't want it to feel like the only reaction to coming out is a negative one. I'm pretty confident that I managed that since the majority of Cat's story, told from her point of view, shows the many different ways people can react, as well as focusing primarily on the crime aspect of the story.

Now let's move on to the second character in the book, Jayden.

Jayden is sixteen, a lesbian and a very timid and nervous character. She's black, living with Catholic parents. She is also very religious and her religion is an important part of her own identity. Jayden's voice was hard for me to get at first. I didn't want to keep her in the background when she had her own views and her own life. She hasn't told her parents about her sexuality for a number of reasons. She feels that they'd reject her given their cultural background, and also there's a part of her who wants to be okay with herself, her religion and her beliefs before she opens up to her family.

Jayden has some serious character growth throughout the story. And it was brilliant to write. I felt like she was coming alive before my eyes, and finally being confident in who she was, what she believed and who she would become when she grew up. It's actually Jayden who pushes Cat along to seeing what they can find out for themselves about the attacks in the park. Jayden goes from being timid and nervous, to being more outspoken about the things that matter to her. I loved writing Jayden because once I found her voice, I was able to dig deeper into the person she was.

So that's two of the main characters in my newest book. I'll see about writing a piece on Ahmed and Alex next week maybe. If you have any questions or wanna talk about It's Not Always Rainbows, as always, feel free to comment or get in touch!

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