Saturday, March 17, 2007

Character birthdays, Part Two

I mentioned a few weeks ago that March 1 was the birthday for Shane, the hero of my vampire novels.

One reader asked me offline if I bought Shane a birthday present. A couple of months ago a discussion on this subject took place on the Smart Bitches site, prompted by a post on Laurell K. Hamilton's blog. The discussion centered on how real the characters are to authors, how much they drive the plot, and how thoroughly we know the contents of their pockets.

I can usually tell you what kind of music my main characters like (in Bad Company it's sort of the point) and even how they take their coffee:

  • Lucifer: Black and bitter, as dark a roast as possible
  • Beelzebub: Tons of cream and sugar--he hasn't an ascetic bone in his body
  • Ciara: Three sugars, no milk, except when she's really tired, when it's time for a gigante mocha, organic two-percent milk, one-and-a-half shots of coconut, no whipped cream, lots of cinnamon, and a little nutmeg
  • Shane: Black and cheap

There's no coffee in the Aspect of Crow world, which is one reason I'd never want to live there. They make do with chicory. Also, without electricity it's a lot easier to get a good night's sleep.

I use character interviews to deepen my knowledge of these people, but usually not until after the first draft. The first draft is the getting-to-know-you process. I put them through hell and see how they react. Do they crumble? Do they run? Do they fight back with nasty words? Fists? Do they blame others? Themselves?

If I know how they face down certain death, the rest comes easy. When they step up to a coffee counter and the bored barista says, "What'll you have?" the answer is waiting on the tip of my brain.

Back to Shane's birthday. I wanted to get him food, because like a lot of gift-buyers, I go by what I would want most (be honest, you do it, too).

But vampires can't enjoy solid food ("everything tastes British") so I settled on a six-pack. The local liquor store didn't have any microbrews from his home state of Ohio. Instead I bought some Smithwick's Irish Ale, made by the brewers of tar-in-a-bottle, aka Guinness. It was a nod to Shane's heritage, and the whole reason for posting this musing today and not tomorrow, or, say two weeks ago when it would've been more timely.

A brief product review: Smithwick's is fantastic! It's extremely smooth, while somehow maintaining a rich, full-bodied ale taste. How did I get this far in life without trying it? Go pick up one (or six) for yourself, and have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A-Z Update: "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day

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A most interesting post. Enjoy the beer. To me, it's all vile stuff that I stopped drinking as soon as I graduated college, but I respect your taste. And happy birthday, Shane.


Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 3/17/2007 1:39 PM

Smithwick's is one of the few beers Kathy likes -- although she's only mildly interested in the bottled stuff over here. But in Ireland, Smithwick's on draft was her poison of choice.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/18/2007 5:20 AM

It'd be a good non-beer-drinker's beer. It has hardly any aftertaste and doesn't leave you feeling heavy and stupid (not after just one, anyway). It's almost like drinking whiskey, but with less alcohol.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/18/2007 7:16 AM

Smithwick's: The only beer-y beer that I find drinkable. And on-tap it's even better.

As to how you've gone this long without knowing about it, it's only been imported for the past couple of years.

Kathy S.

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 3/20/2007 8:14 PM

*drooling thinking of Smithwick's on tap*

I wonder if our local Irish pub has it. Glad to hear I'm not too behind-the-curve on this one.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/20/2007 8:32 PM

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