Monday, May 14, 2012

Welcome to Stop Six of the DC Green Grat Siege Blog Blitz Tour!

Welcome to Stop Six of the DC Green Grat Siege Blog Blitz Tour! Today’s topic: Writing Great Characters

Hi DC, Thank you for visiting my blog. It's great to have you here and to pick your brains about characters. But let's start with an easy question, so you have some brains left at the end of the interview.

Robyn: What is Erasmus James and the Grat Siege about?

Erasmus (or "Raz" for short, which he is) is a naughty but brilliant twelve-year old. He "borrows" his father’s galactic zapp machine – an invention that can instantly zapp the user anywhere in the universe – and ends up causing all sorts of chaos on a planet called Uponia. Because of Raz’s actions, a giant rat queen called Dice gets her paws on grat technology, which means she can now take over the entire universe!
First she just needs a nugget of information from inside Raz’s brain! 
Queen Dice and her armored rat army trap Raz and a mixed bunch of refugees inside a golden castle. This is the "grat siege" of the title. The story that follows is exciting, desperate, terrifying and hilarious – or at least, that’s what my guard cats reckon! 

Robyn: How did you come up with the main character, Erasmus James? 

DC: Interestingly, Raz was originally a girl character, but my first publisher insisted I change her to a him! The reason was that boys supposedly only want to read stories with boy main characters, whereas girls are happy either way.
I’m proud of Raz as a main character. He is also the first person narrator, so all three books in the series are told from his perspective and through his eyes. On the surface, he is brilliant, cocky and cheeky. But scratch deeper and Raz is also insecure, lonely and defensive. He loves using puns and talking in snappy sentences, which is a lot of fun to write!
And yes, there are little bits of my personality in Raz, and in most of my characters. 

Robyn: Do you have any tips for writing interesting villains?

DC: I love blurred boundaries! By that I mean, no villain should ever be 100 % villainous or evil. Just as heroes are always more interesting if they have a "tragic flaw" or some sort of personality defect so they aren’t too "perfect" and can have a learning character arc, so too villains become more rounded and intriguing as characters if there is something noble or vaguely nice about them.
For example, in my first Erasmus book, I introduced a herd of bloodhorses. At first, these carnivorous horses seemed totally nasty and terrifying. In Grat Siege, however, the bloodhorses have no choice but to team up with the "good guys" and we learn these horses have a rough nobility and their own harsh moral code. Meanwhile, the grat army at first seems utterly evil and unstoppable. But Raz learns the grats are just as capable of love and fear and the full spectrum of emotions as any human, chook or horse!

Robyn: The characters trapped inside the castle sound interesting.

DC: Thanks! It was fantastic to write one final time about some old favorite characters:
* Sanders, the 2,000-year-old psychic chook;
* Jessica, a brave, young ninja horse;
* Phooey, a 30-tonne mutant chook called a roccor;
* Bleakheart, the leader of a herd of the carnivorous bloodhorses;
* Clarissa, a sarcastic Goth girl who acts as Raz’s conscience;
* Whizman, the reluctant king who would rather invent amazing things than do any ruling or make any decisions;
There are also some fantastic new characters including Doug the talking rat; the grumpy Captain Kroak; Darial MacDrill, a multicolored flying unicorn with a fishing rod for a tail; plus a cast of zillions!

Robyn: How should budding writers go about creating their own characters?

DC: Before you start writing a story, ask as many questions as you can about your characters. The more you know about each character, the more real and unique they will seem to your readers.
Even dumb questions can lead to story or conflict ideas. Say you’ve just invented a talking kangaroo called Karla. You might ask these two questions… Does Karla eat spaghetti? Does she have an annoying little brother? These questions might inspire you to write about Karla running (or hopping) away to the city to become a spaghetti chef. But her little brother follows her, and together they have to escape dangers like muggers and a reality TV film crew!
Often one question leads to another. Maybe Karla loves netball and she has to overcome discrimination to become the first marsupial to play in the Australian netball team. Just fill in the gaps and your story is underway, filled with wonderful characters that you have created with your very own imagination!

Robyn: Any more character writing tips?

DC: Yes, plenty!
It’s important to describe all your characters, even if just with a snappy sentence or two. What does Karla the Kangaroo look like? Is she handsome like DC Green? What does she keep inside her pouch? Often what your characters do for a living will determine their appearance. If Karla is a lifeguard, she will probably be tanned and fit. Perhaps she has an artificial leg or an interesting scar, which raises the question: "How did THAT happen?" Maybe Karla was bitten by a shark, or caught in barbed wire while escaping from prison!
The clothes a character wears can tell you volumes. Does Karla wear a suit? Horribly clashing unfashionable clothes? Raggedy clothes covered in patches? Or no clothes at all?! Perhaps she is a lifeguard at a nudie beach! 
We can also learn much about a character by their accessories, homes and hobbies. Does Karla drive a Porsche, a Prius, or a rusty Pulsar? Does she live in a castle, or under a bridge? Is her pet a fluffy kitten, a savage Alsatian or a deadly Taipan snake? Does she have dozens of friends, one best friend or no friends at all? Does she like chatting on the Internet, eating pumpkin pie or racing monster trucks? Does she rule at hopscotch? (Well, Karla IS a kangaroo!)
How does Karla speak? In a posh, formal voice? In super-short sentences? Does she mispronounce some words or um and er? It’s important to make sure your characters each have their own distinctive voice.
What about Karla’s personality? Does she buy a nice present every Mother’s Day? What is her greatest fear? What is her goal in life? It’s good to mix up some nice and not-so-nice personality points. The not-so-nice characteristics will help your main character get into trouble… and make for an interesting story! For example, Karla may be brave, but also quick to anger before she knows all the facts.
In other words: great characters and stories result from asking LOTS of questions!
Simply mix, and add conflict!

Robyn: Terrific! Boy, am I curious about Karla! Thanks so much for dropping by, DC.

DC: Thanks so much for hosting me, Robyn. I’m a great fan!

Robyn: I always knew you were fabulously cool. Get it! Great fan - fabulously cool! Okay, perhaps you had to be there, that is inside my head. Hmmm... bit messy in there!  
I'm loving Grat Siege. It's a great read - brilliant, entertaining, so much fun. I highly recommend Grat Siege. Thanks again, DC. I'm a great fan, too! Have a great blog tour!

Before we go any further, here's a photograph of DC Green so you can see the author in real life. 

Cool, huh!

And now over to The DC Green Grat Siege Blog Blitz Tour Itinerary!

Saturday May 12
Topic: Blog Tour Mania!
DC Green

Sunday May 13
Topic: Inspiration and Ideas
Ian Irvine

Monday 14 - Sunday 20
Topic: Reactions and Reviews
Kids Book Review, Tania McCartney

Monday May 14
Topic: Giant Rats Want Your Universe!
Pass It On

Tuesday May 15
Topic: DC’s Amazing Life
Buzz Words

Wednesday May 16
Topic: Writing Great Characters
Robyn Opie Parnell

Thursday May 17
Topic: Plotting and Planning!
Jill Smith

Friday May 18
Topic: Surf journalism
Chad Kolcze

Saturday May 19
Topic: Random Questions
Helen Nolan

Sunday May 20
Topic: DC Green’s Books
Jackie Hosking

DC’s books can be purchased online here:

DC would be stoked if you could like his ‘DC Green Author’ page on facebook:

And as a further teaser, here are some of DC Green's books: 

STINKY SQUAD is about a country called Oztrailer where everyone turns into brain-eating zombies. The nation's only hope is a bunch of loser teens with gross super-powers... Stinky Squad!

Stinky Squad is gross, funny, scary and ultra-fast paced: perfect for readers with strong stomachs aged between 10 and 110.

Three Little Surfer Pigs is the perfect book for all the family, covering ages 4 to 154, and above average pets.

10 % OF ALL SALES GO TO CANTEEN - the Australian organisation supporting young people living with cancer!

For even more teasers, you may wish to visit:
Happy reading! 

Love and Light,
Robyn Opie

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