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Hoisting a glass of Guinness with Stan in County Cork…

Day 23 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks participants to describe a fictional/fantasy encounter with their favorite character from their novel. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 23 writing prompt:

If you could meet one of your main characters or ideal reader anywhere in the world for coffee, drinks, dinner, or a caramel (tipping my hat to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting), who would it be, where would you meet them, and why?

Stan in Ireland

I love the idea of this – having coffee or dinner with my main character. Stanford Crowley is based on a real person and, admittedly, for the first little while, I would think of my personal friend when I pictured Stan. However, Stan is a FICTIONAL character, and before long, he became his own person. He may be modeled on my friend, and when I wonder what Stan might do in a particular circumstance, I sometimes think about what my friend would likely do in the same situation, but he’s developed his own thoughts and behaviors and personality quirks.

The character of Paula is less of a mystery because she is very much based on me – so she wouldn’t be at all interesting for me to meet. Gretchen is based on no one in particular, but she behaves like every horrible vixen/villainess/antiheroine that you’ve ever encountered in a TV drama or romantic comedy, and I’d have no desire to ever chat one-on-one with her. I love some of the tertiary characters – more plot devices than people – but they are deliberately unidimensional, so they probably wouldn’t be that interesting to talk with, at least as written.

So Stan it is.

Would he be interesting? Probably not so much, at first. But there would be Irish pubsomething charming about his stuck-in-his-ways way. He’d be kind and smart and a good conversationalist. He’d be a gentleman and inquire about me and my interests. He’d enjoy organic beer if we were meeting someplace like Scottsdale. But my preference would be an actual Irish pub near Blarney Castle where I’d force myself to choke down a Guinness with my fish and chips. He’d eat Irish stew and pass on the bread. We’d sit outside on a balmy summer evening because this is my fantasy, and it would not be raining. Not all that farfetched in my book, as the only time I was in Ireland, I had five days of perfect weather without a single raindrop in sight.

We’d compare notes about our time in the Tri-State Area. I’d tell him about my first visit tonotel motel Tonnelle Avenue in Jersey City. I was brand new to the city and had no idea it was one of the seediest streets in the area. My boyfriend was in town for one night and we wanted to stay in a motel instead of at my sister’s apartment. When he went to check in, the clerk’s response was, “You want to stay the WHOLE night?” Years later, I wound up living two blocks east of that exact area of Tonnelle Avenue in a quaint neighborhood filled with four-family walk-ups.

He’d tell me about his fight with Paula, how Gretchen had betrayed him, and how he felt he’d let down his sister Kerrie. He’d show me a picture of his Jack Russell terrier, Isis – if she wasn’t with us snoozing quietly under the table. We’d talk into the wee hours, decide it was time to move on, make one last toast, and then each head off to our respective B&Bs. It would be one of those magical, momentary encounters that stays with you for a lifetime. And later, snuggled back in my bed in Phoenix, I’d wonder if it had been real of if I had just imagined the whole thing.

Please be sure to check in again tomorrow, when I’ll lay out the plans for my first book signing…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to meeting all kinds of wonderful characters in your waking life!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Half-Pint to a clumsy Brit to a green witch … my favorites run the gamut

For the next 24 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge. There’s still time to register. Join today and qualify for drawings for daily giveaways for every day that you post.

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Day 5 writing prompt:

Who is your favorite literary character? With which literary character do you most relate?

Of course I had to write this question – so now I’ve got to answer it. I mentioned yesterday that I’m basically a lazy reader. I guess I should qualify that by saying I’m a whimsical (or ADD, depending on your perspective) reader who always has a number of books going at any one time. One in the car. One I carry in my backpack. One I read while my computer’s booting up. One on my bedside table. One in the potty, of course. Reading this way sates my “don’t want to get bored” sensitivity – but, admittedly, doesn’t make for the best overall retention.

Thing is, I’ve never been the most careful of readers or one of those people who re-reads books again and again. I’m much more likely to give away fiction once I’ve read it than I am to let a nonfiction book go out the door. I always used the “I’m  not a lit major” excuse for being less-well read than I felt I could or should have been. That might have worked back in college; now I think I just need to own that I usually just read what I like. Even in school, I rarely read all the works we were assigned. I still got A’s because I’d spend the first half of the class listening to the discussions of the assigned readings, and only pipe in toward the end, my comments based on what the others had said rather than my actual reading of the text. I’ve probably read 40 to 50% of the books on any of those classic book lists that we all were “supposed” to have read to be well educated, well rounded, and well read.

To that end, I’m woefully ignorant about famous characters. That might seem counter to my comment yesterday that I like stories with well-defined characters – but I don’t see it that way. It’s the story I remember, but I can only get into a story that has characters I care about. I’m reminded of my sister who often jokes that she doesn’t remember the unimportant stuff. I suppose (movie and literary) characters fall into that category for me. I mean, I even had to look up the name of Drew Barrymore’s famous ET character (GERTIE!) for a mock pitch I did in my recent screenwriting class.

That doesn’t mean I’m wholly without recall of powerful characters. Who can ever forget Harper Lee’s Scout or Half-Pint in the Laura Ingalls tales? I suppose the little girl in me always related to those two – particularly Laura because we share the name. I loved the strong-willed writer, Jo, in Little Women and could relate, in part, to clumsy, endearing Bridget Jones – although I like to think I’d gotten myself a bit more together than she did by that point in my life.

Perhaps my favorite character of old or new fiction is Elphaba Thropp of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked series. I loved how he turned the classic story on its ear by giving a moving backstory to the character we were all trained to abhor. (At the risk of offending the entire world, I have to say that I was unbelievably let down by the musical when I finally saw it in March. Gorgeous spectacle – but it did a dismal job of portraying Elphaba’s story.) Activist, lover, outcast … Elphaba is one of the few characters I not only remember, but can say I would have loved to meet.

Who are your favorite literary characters? What makes them so special to you?

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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