Meet my main character(s) blog tour

This is new for me. Friend and fellow writer Madhuri Blaylock (author of YA urban fantasy series The Sanctum) tagged me to join in on the Meet My Main Character blog tour.

My first question was, what the hell is this? Then I read Madhuri’s blog entry, and it clicked. Basically, this is a great way to share with readers and other bloggers some key and interesting facts about the characters who make up our literary worlds.

So now it’s my turn. The book: my supernatural suspense novel The Last Conquistador. Here goes.

1. What is the name of your main character? Is he or she fictional or a historical person?

The Last Conquistador tells two parallel stories, one set in the present day and one set in the past, so there are two main characters. Randy Velasquez is a young American soldier stationed in Germany. He’s totally fictional, though I drew on my experiences as a soldier in Germany to create much of the setting and even some situations.

Rodrigo is the main character of the second part, which is set in the past. He is a 17-year-old Spaniard who sets off for the New World in search of riches. He is fictional, though I based many of his exploits and misadventures on the true and wild tale of Cabeza de Vaca.

2. When and where is the story set?

Randy’s story is set in the present in Germany. I chose this setting for two reasons. After living there as a soldier, I realized that, with a couple of exceptions, I’d never seen this setting in fiction before. Also, one of the themes of this story is being lost in a strange world. For Randy, Germany is a weird place that he’s never able to conquer.

Rodrigo’s story, which begins in the year 1530, spans Spain, Cuba, what is now the southwest US, and Mexico. Similar to Randy, though more extreme, he’s a stranger in a hostile land.

3. What should we know about him?

For both characters, their character traits drive the story.

Randy is brash, tenacious, and is stubborn. He’s a bit of a smartass, a little cocky and sometimes he goes too far, which gets him into trouble. But he never gives up.

Rodrigo is hungry and determined. He grew up the second son of a tanner in a small Spanish village, but he always lusted for adventure. This will get him into more trouble than he ever imagined. But his determination and hunger are what will carry him through some tough times.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

For Randy, the trouble starts because of his German girlfriend Lise. The day after she tells him she’s pregnant, she leaves him. Randy is determined to find her and win her back. But everyone around him throws roadblocks in his path, and he learns that Lise is not who she appeared to be. Not only that, but there’s a demon chasing him.

Rodrigo is in love with Elena. When her father turns down his marriage proposal, he vows to become a rich conquistador to prove his worth. But luck isn’t on his side. He becomes shipwrecked among hostile Indian tribes and spends the next several years trying to find his way back home.

5. What is his personal goal?

Randy’s goal is to find Lise and win her back. He wants her, he wants their baby, he wants this fantasy life he’s built up in his head, and he refuses to let that go, demon or no demon.

Rodrigo’s goal at first was to amass wealth and prestige. but once he’s marooned, his goal is simply to survive.

For both characters their goals are shaped by who they are. Rodrigo’s hunger drives him. He wants so much from life. this helps him survive against long odds, but it also leads to disappointment. Randy is stubborn in his hope, which sees him through some dark times. It’s the key to his ability to battle the demon which he can never seem to shake.

And now, for the next stops on the blog tour, check out these writers as they discuss their main characters:

Christa Wojo talks about David from her novella The Wrong David.

Check them all out. And if you’re a blogging writer, climb on board.

The Girl and The Boy: local paranormal thrills

I’m a fan of supporting my local community, and that doesn’t just mean going to the local bars. I’ve become involved in my writing community here in Jersey City, and one of the girlwriters I’ve met is Madhuri Blaylock, a woman with a penchant for fantastical stories of page-turning urban paranormal fiction.

Her first book, The Sanctum: The Girl, follows our teenage hero Dev, a demon-angel hybrid. She’s targeted for death by a shadowy organization called the Sanctum, a worldwide group of families that monitors all the paranormal activity in our world. Dev, however, proves difficult to kill. Not only that, but she falls for one of he Sanctum’s best killers, Wyatt.

This was a fun book, full of relatable characters that ranged from stalwart best friends to seductive vampires, as well as The_boy_finalmustache-twirling villains I loved to hate.

Now Madhuri has released the second book in the trilogy, aptly titled The Sanctum: The Boy. Check it out, help me support my local community, and have some fun in the process.

Interview with Indie Author Kevin Singer

This woman knows a thing or two about writing compelling characters. Dev, the lead in Madhuri Blaylock’s book The Girl (The Sanctum), is a teenage half angel/half demon powerhouse. Recently Madhuri interviewed me about my story Always Mine. It was a great experience. Check out the interview, and check out Madhuri’s book too.

Madhuri Writes Things

Back in January the book club at 9th & Coles Tavern in downtown Jersey City read THE GIRL and invited me to attend their discussion session. It was loads of fun hanging with Greg and the gang and was where I met fellow author and neighbor, Kevin Singer.

He’s very cool and it was fun talking about my book with another writer so when I had the chance this past March, I returned the favor and picked up his book “Always Mine”. It’s a little gem of a story and if you have a chance, I highly recommend snagging a copy and getting lost in its pages. You won’t regret it.

AlwaysMine_final

After reading “Always Mine”, I thought it would be fun to interview Kevin and see what goes on in his writer’s mind. Here’s what I discovered about Mister Singer:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been in love…

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On writing: race and the universal

I write about outsiders, mainly — characters who, in one way or another, are cut off from humanity at large, often in ways that aren’t obvious.

Take Danny, for instance, in my supernatural story Always Mine. He’s 15, plays for his high school lacrosse team, and he fits in well enough at school. He’s a good looking white suburban kid. Nothing wrong with his life, right? No, except that his mother is physically abusive and depressive, and his father is deployed to Iraq during the height of the conflict. He is alienated in ways that are hidden, even to himself. That makes it easy for him to fall for Tina, the new girl next door, who uses her Ouija board for not-so-good purposes.

As with Danny, many of my protagonists have been white (and male), in part because that has been my experience, so it’s easy to climb into that skin. But I enjoy writing heroes who are neither of those. Take Randy Velazquez. He’s the star of my book The Last Conquistador. His Hispanic heritage is vital to the story, but for him, it’s just a mundane fact of his life. He doesn’t strongly identify with it, and he doesn’t have the time for it to be an issue, between trying to track down his pregnant runaway girlfriend and dodging a creepy demon.

And a story I’m working on now centers around a 14-year-old Chinese-American girl, Mina. Her ethnic background is secondary to the story. So how do I, as a white guy, approach writing Hispanic or Native American or Asian or African-American characters? Simple, actually. I write them as human beings. My philosophy in writing any character is to get to their common human essence first, and then go from there.

But there seems to be a lot of reluctance to do this, especially in the world of movies and television. Too often nonwhite actors play roles that can only be played by nonwhite actors. It’s rare that you get a Will Smith in I Am Legend. That’s a shame for all of us, because it limits all of our imaginations.

A fellow Jersey City writer, Madhuri Blaylock, wrote a great novel titled The Sanctum: Book One: The Girl. It’s a paranormal thriller that follows Dev, a half angel/half demon teenage girl who is kick-ass. Dev, in a matter-of-factly way, is African American. Blaylock scored a hit with Dev because she wrote her from a place of universal experience. There is no preaching or educating, just entertaining. In a lot of ways, Dev reminded me of Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games in that she was 100% relatable. You do not have to be female, black or a teenager to follow Dev as she fights the forces of the Sanctum. Plus, her love interest Wyatt is white; it’s about time we’re moving past the point of interracial relationships being any kind of issue. I highly recommend checking out this thrilling book.

Don’t get me wrong: I believe there’s a place–even a need–for stories unique to gender, culture, age, race, sexuality and religion. But there’s also a need for people who are any or all of the above to be universally relatable. None of those qualities should matter all that much in our day-to-day lives. As writers we can make it so, at least in our fictional worlds.