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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When Characters Take Over with Michelle Houston

Hello everyone! My name is Michelle Houston, and I want to thank you all for having me today at You Gotta Read.

I guess before I jump in to my post today, I should tell you a little bit about myself. Some part of me believes that I was born to ride on the backs of dragons, to soar among the stars in a ship that travels faster than light (or at least the speed of), and to dance the night away in the arms of a mysterious, and very sexy, vampire. Because I am very much in touch with reality, I know that none of these things will ever actually happen … so I share the worlds that exist in my mind in an effort to bring them to life.

Before I started writing with any degree of seriousness, I was a voracious reader. In fact, I still am, but it’s less of a mystery to me now.

I would always read a book with a sense of awe that the author had created this wonderful world. To me the process seemed similar to a machine; impossible for me to understand how all the parts work and fit together, but the end product was something to see.

Now that I am a writer, I have to say it still mystifies me at times. The whole process, from formulating an idea, to actually getting it down on paper, to smoothing out all of the rough edges and getting it finalized is still a bit mysterious to me. The fact that somewhere in my mind, in the firing of synapses amid all of the other chemical reactions going on, that a story is formed. Simply incredible.

I’ve never been one to hold back when it comes to crossing genres, or to exploring other sexualities with my writings, so I don’t tend to fall into a niche. I believe that my job is to tell the characters stories, not judge them, or try to make them into something they are not. Consequently, I do have the occasional character that reviewers hate. But I love writing erotic romance, and the occasional erotica piece, and really have no desire to change genres. I just dabble here and there in different subgenres.

I also go by the belief that just like people, characters have a life before we meet them, and go on after we leave them. It isn’t my job to capture every moment of my characters lives. I just tag along for a brief glimpse, and then let them go their own way. Subsequently, I don’t write novels, and probably never will. I am more comfortable with novella length and shorter.

Speaking of the lives of characters. That brings me to my chosen topic for today – characters that take over, or develop lives of their own. What really gets to me is the characters that don’t quite understand that I am the author, and they are my creations. Other writers I am sure understand this, as do other readers.

You know what I am talking about: the secondary character that steals the show, the one you pray the author does a sequel for, so that you can spend more time with him/her. The reader finds himself/herself rushing through the parts with the hero/heroine to get back to the character they have come to love. Sometimes even the author starts to care more for the secondary character than the primary.

Then there are the characters that you know where you want their story to go, but they are bound and determined to sabotage it at every turn. You wind up with a good story, but it wasn’t what you started out writing, and the more you push the character to get back to where you planned, the more he/she resists.

Oh! We can’t overlook the characters that demand their time, when you aren’t yet ready for them, the pushy ones that don’t care that you are working on getting another character’s story down, and plan to get to them soon. Arguing with them is something I have found almost impossible to do. They just don’t listen.

Then there are the characters that tell you their story, and when you are done writing it, turn it in and get everything all set to publish they decide they aren’t done with you yet. Erika, of my most recent release from Phaze, called A Bid For Love, decided to play this little trick on me. Which led to a free short story called Love Slave. She decided that she wanted a brief prequel, that Ryan’s gift to her deserved more than a brief mention in her story, that the back-story to it all needed to be told.

The best though are the characters that don’t want to tell you anything about themselves. They start out whispering, teasing you with bits and pieces, and dangle a chance at more in front of you. You have to behave and do as they wish before they will give you more.

Oh yes, they are the best to me. One of my favorite characters, Alisa, did this to me. She started out with just one comment, telling me that Zach Bradford was a part time archeologist and full time pain in the ass and then she fell silent. I had to try and figure out just what she was trying to get at. Who was Zach Bradford? Why was he a pain to her? How did she know him? What was going on there? And most importantly, why did she say is almost wistfully? Her tone didn’t match her words.

I love writing, and I am always fascinated by the differences between my writing process and other authors out there. I also enjoy hearing about the characters they couldn’t control. So I guess my question for the other authors/readers out there, my ultimate purpose of the topic of this post, if you will, is this … I want to know about the characters that stole the show for you. Feel free to mention also if I missed any ways they manage to take things over.

And if you are intrigued enough by this glimpse into my world of writing, I invite you to explore further with me. My website is www.michellehouston.com

As for Alisa and Zach, if you want to know more about their story … it’s called DIGGIN’ UP BONES, and was published by Phaze. I hope that you fall as much in love with Zach as Alisa and I did.

BLURB: All Alisa wanted was to be left alone with her writings. But the discovery of Native America bones on her property made that wish impossible.

The last man she wanted to see was back in her life, and with him Zach Bradford brought a whole lot of memories and some questions she really didn't want to answer.

Now besides digging for bones, he's digging into their past as well, searching for answers as to why she broke up with him suddenly, two years ago. And Alisa has to decide if she is going to keep living in the past, or if she's going to let it go and reach for a possible future with Zach. The future she should have had.

Erika and Ryan’s story, A BID FOR LOVE, was also published by Phaze.

Erika had thought that Ryan was out of her life, and that she was over him. When they run into each other at an art action, and he outbids her on a painting of her grandmother's, she's willing to do anything to get it from him - including agree to spend 48 hours with him. Her head says at the end of it, she can just walk away. Her heart isn't so sure.


The free short that I mentioned, LOVE SLAVE, is available on my website in my FREE section. It can be read before or after A Bid For love, but despite it being a prequel, I really would recommend reading it afterwards.

DIGGIN’ UP BONES also has an “extra chapter” available on my website. That one really has to be read after Diggin’ Up Bones however.

Looking for a little teaser from either of the stories mentioned? I have really naughty ones on my website. Because of the very adult content (I write erotic romances after all) I invite you to read them there.



lastnerve said...

Hey Michelle, just wanted to stop off, say hi and Diggin up Bones looks really intriging. Will check out your site in the next few minutes! Thanks for blogging on You Gotta Read


Michelle Houston said...

Thanks Val. : )