Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Blog Tour + Guest Post - The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers

The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers
Published July 5th 2016 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) 

Blurb from Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past--if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she's spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.

When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship the Onion. Before you can say "pieces of eight," they're up to their necks in the pirates' quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don't even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are. And if she's unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.

 How to make your characters believable

I have a T shirt that says “Plot: it builds character.”  It’s a reminder that character and plot go hand in hand.  Characters don’t exist in a vacuum - they need something to do, and what they do forms the basis of your story.  If your characters aren’t believable, then your story won’t be believable either.

Here are my tips on how to build believable characters.

1.  Everyone has their own story.
They say there are three kinds of people in the world: those who listen to stories, those who tell them, and those who make them.  From Aldebran Boswell’s Book of the World.
Aldebran Boswell is wrong. Everyone has their own story to tell: their own view of the world and their place in it.  You don’t need to know the entire life story of every character that appears in your book, but you do need to know the important points for the main characters.  Certain things will have happened in their past to skew their view of the world and these will form the basis of their stories.  
 You can get to the heart of these events with a single word - why?
 Brine Seaborne wants to escape the only home she can remember?  Why?  Because her master is planning to sell her into service to a man who has a huge house and no books.  Why do books matter?  Because they are Brine’s only way of finding out about the world. Why does she want to find out about the world?  Because she was found alone in a foreign ocean with no memory of what happened before and she can’t bring herself to believe her parents deliberately abandoned her.  Why not?
At some point, you will have to stop asking why and start writing the book, but keep questioning your characters until their answers satisfy you.

2. Everyone is the hero.
“Stories are told by the victors…  No one ever tells the story of how my pioneering work - work that would have benefited all of humanity - was cut short by marauding pirates.”  Marfak West, evil magician.
Very few people are entirely evil, or deliberately evil.  Your villains should not be there just to oppose your heroes - they need their own agendas, and the best villains are the ones that think they are in the right.  The nefarious Marfak West wants to destroy Cassie O’Pia. Why - because the stories have painted her as the hero and him as the villain and he knows it is really the other way round.  He is the hero, pushing the boundaries of science and magic for the good of all.

3. No one does anything for reasons of plot.
“I never know what to do.  That’s what floating about on an ocean does to you - you can’t plan ahead. The weather changes and your carefully timetabled fortnight of marauding is put on hold while you make emergency repairs.” Cassie O’Pia, pirate captain.
Your characters’ actions should never be driven by what you want to happen.  Their actions come out of their own desires, motives and agendas.  They may be forced to take an action by circumstance, weather or other characters, but don’t ever make them do something just because the story demands it.  If you ask why a character does something and you don’t have an answer, change their actions.

4.  They’re only as real as they feel.
“There’s nothing more real than what you’re feeling.”  Marfak West.
If a character doesn’t feel real to you as the author, they’re unlikely to come across as believable to the reader.  There are many character creation charts online where you can fill in everything from your characters’ hair colour to their deepest fear.  I’ve always found it useful to interview my characters, start with a blank document and start a conversation.  It’s a good way of getting their voices into your head, and you may find out things that surprise you.
Hello, Peter?  I’m the author.
The author of what?  Go away, I’m practicing magic.
Are you enjoying it?
No.  I hate magic.  It’s hard and it’s boring and I’m no good at it.
Why are you doing it then?
Because… because once, years ago, Tallis Magus came to our village looking for an apprentice.  He had some starshell with him and when I touched it, I could feel the magic in it.  And, for the first and only time in my life I felt like I was special. 
And you want to feel that again?  More than anything?
I guess so.  You don’t believe me, do you?
On the contrary.  That’s entirely believable.

 About the Author

Claire Fayers lives in South Wales with her husband and as many cats as she can get away with. The Voyage to Magical North is her first novel.

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