Sunday, July 27, 2014

Meg Amor ~ interesting Q's ~ DARK WAR, Charlie's vulnerabilities and writing as a New Zealander

Aloha everyone!! J This week, my adventure was with esteemed Chris Speakman at Muse It Up Publishing who asked interesting questions that go with my life theme right now. - Other Muse authors were interviewed here with these questions if you're interested, people give such interesting answers!
One of the things attracting people is my character Charlie. People love Henry and Izzy, but they’re mad about Charlie. Why?

I think because he’s the most vulnerable. The most conflicted at times. He’s struggles with being vulnerable, letting the world see the parts of himself he deems not so acceptable. He’s so busy doing his ‘Rico Sauvé charm offensive’ as Izzy calls it, that  when she first meets him, she says, “Charlie’s gorgeous, but you wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with him.”
Izzy thinks he’s charming, but you’d never get close to him or get to know him very deeply. His walls are thick and deep. He only shows people what he wants them to see.
But what happens as he watches Henry and Izzy’s relationship is Charlie realizes he has to take his own walls down to get what he wants in his heart.

They’re not protecting him anymore.
They’re keeping him shutoff from the world, the love he wants and the happiness that’s somewhat elusive for him.
He knows he has to open himself up, be vulnerable, look at some of this stuff, and be real.
I know the more you open up, and show your deeper stuff, the more people like you.
Most of us just want to be accepted for who we are ~ all of us. Not just the PR bits we trot out for show and tell purposes. ‘The Happy Face’ syndrome, I call it.
In the movie Strictly Ballroom the mother character says slightly maniacally to someone, “I’ve got my happy face on today.” She instantly pastes a fake smile on her face, while gritting her teeth through the thing that’s driving her crazy. Later, she ends up screaming, “I’ve got my happy face on, my happy face on,” and having a breakdown.
I don’t want to be that person.
And that’s what Charlie has to let himself be. A person who feels what they’re feeling. Who’s not afraid to be all of who he is. Yes, he’s complex, but that’s what makes him really, really interesting.
I think we all forget that our very humanness is what makes us attractive. People relate more to the real us, than the false ‘happy, happy’ us. It gives them permission to also be real.
So, here’s the interview on my characters. J I’ve added a couple more thoughts as I’ve gone along, but it’s basically the same interview with Chris. Thanks!!! She does great interveiws :-)
I’ll talk a bit more about feelings over on my other blog on Monday as well. It’s been a bit of a theme lately.
I first introduce my characters in a book called DARK WAR. Then they go on to have a trilogy written about them and their relationship with each other. I darkened them slightly for Dark War, but their essential character is still there in the Troika Love Series trilogy, coming out soon.
This book is on special for one more day on Amazon and Muse this weekend at .99 cents. If you want a taste of my three lovelies, it's a good time to grab a copy.
ChrisChat: Why did you write the book that brought you to MuseItUp Publishing?

Aloha Chris,  
I wrote Dark War as part of an antho collection. But the characters from that story came from a trilogy that has the first book HENRY AND ISOLDE in submission right now.  
When I hit 50 last year, some part of me simply rebelled!  

I thought I'm not going to shrivel up and die. I'm only 50 for god’s sake! I'm going to claim my wild sensuous side back. I found myself secretly closeted in my office, compelled to write a 'nice wee romance'—but I wanted it to be steamy. I was sick of books that went from the magical first kiss to the 'Oh God, that was amazing,' stage. I usually said to myself—Oy! Where's the bit in the middle!  

I started off with my two main characters Henry and Izzy in a deep steamy love story. Then Henry's best friend Charlie turned up and it got complicated... 

He’s affectionately known to me as 'Bloody Charlie.' (I'm a New Zealander, we’d consider this as similar to saying damn in the States.) He just wouldn't go away. He wanted to be in this scene, that scene. He wanted a bigger part. He wanted this and that. He drove me nuts. Finally, I spoke to a mentor who said, "Write him in, see what happens."  

I did and the rest is history—so to speak. He became the main character in all three books. He's essentially the wild part of me that needs more 'air time.' These books have been a way to claim myself back.


NICE!!! I love it when a character takes over. I have one who keeps nudging me in the back of my head, he’s a right crazy pain. Did you find the writing process change once you let Charlie in? Some have explained it becomes easier, but difficult because the story goes in directions you didn’t want. Outside of just sitting down and actually writing, what should any writer keep in mind with the process? Had to come back and add something else… “the wild part of me that needs more ‘air time’.” What does the freeing feel to you?


Thanks Chris!! :-) I love it when a character takes over too. I just trot around briskly after them to keep up, scribbling furiously. :-) LOL on your head nudger. Oy!! I do love them when they turn up though and won't leave us alone.

Yes, I think the writing process did change when I let Charlie in and he did his own thing. I learned to let go a bit and just wait for 'them' (the Muses) to turn back up. I stopped being so worried about the story and started to trust it would come. I didn't really have to 'control' the process. I just had to trust that once I got this bit down, they’d give me the next piece. Previous to that, I always thought I'd get stuck or writers block. But once Charlie turned up and I let him run riot :-) I realized the story was out of my control anyway. I was simply channeling the story and had to trust that another piece WOULD turn up.

I got to throw the odd idea in, but really, they tell me their own stories now. :-)

I think ultimately for me, I had to trust that 'they' know what they're doing. And to be okay in the stage where you've written down what they've just given you, but nothing new has filled the vacuum yet. And to not force it. 

If they'd just given the whole story to me at once, I wouldn't have slept for weeks. Nor been able to take breaks to eat, go to the bathroom etc. LOL. It's quite intense for me when it happens. I'm literally hunched over the keyboard for hours, typing like a lunatic. This is when I go—thanks so much Gran for making me take touch typing. LOL.
In answer 'to the wild part of me that needs more air time.' I get to be very vulnerable and quite open through my character Charlie. Charlie's raw in many ways. He's articulate, good at introspection and highly intelligent. Sometimes getting to the real him can be a challenge though. He's so used to doing the PR charm machine. When he really gets to take some walls down and starts letting Henry and Izzy in, it takes a lot of trust. But he gets to be all of who he really is. The good, the bad, the ugly. Some of the scary bits, he thinks people will find frightening and hate about him. But being able to be who are you, that's a huge gift. We're all looking for that. Just to be accepted for who we are.

I can 'tamp' myself down a wee bit at times, because I’m very exuberant. I have a loud laugh, I find all sorts of things funny. I'm crazy and wild. I don't live by other people's conventions. 

Henry says to Charlie at one point, "Maybe your crazy self is your sane self."  

And that applies to me too. I think I'm at my best when I'm my crazy wild self. But sometimes that's still hard to do. To trust it's okay or that people won't run away screaming into the night. :-) It's freeing, but also very vulnerable. It's like showing the soft underbelly of yourself to the world and hope you won't get kicked in the guts for it.

Boy, you ask good questions. :-) Thanks. 


When I was younger we would visit friends and one was from
Australia. I loved learning her phrases. My brother lives in Scotland…dad’s first marriage…so I know a few phrasings/slangs from him and my sister-in-law, let alone from my friend from Jamaica. This is going to show, I haven’t read Dark War, yet (so many great reads, so little time ) but does your New Zealander words/phrases slip in? How much do you have to fight not to allow them in?


LOL. Great question. One I worried about a wee bit when I first started out. How fabulous that you have all these nations of people around you. :) I love it. Anyway, back to the question. I 'solved' the problem in a way, by making my main character a New Zealander. And even in a Christmas story I recently submitted, I did the same thing. I've lived in the State, on and off, for twenty odd years. So I have some Americanisms on board. And sometimes they do get muddled up. LOL.

I've put in things that Henry or Charlie have said and my editor came back with, is that a
New Zealand or Kiwi phrase? Oh... LOL. Then I'll go and look it up and is. :-)  

The thing with being here for so long, is that I’ve retained my Kiwi accent, but have picked up lots of American words. So sometimes I really don't know which country something belongs to anymore. Also, our phrasing is often different and my syntax is odd anyway. So I have to work on that stuff sometimes. :-)

We swear a lot more. So parts of my speech and a lot of New Zealanders have to be toned down for an American audience. We also use words that are considered upsetting to some people here. Like Jesus, God, Christ etc.
New Zealand
is a largely secular country, for us, they're just words that have some energy to them, or everyday words, rather than sacred words. So I have to tone those down too. Although, I did question whether religious people would be reading my sultry steamy romance novels. :-)

I ended up attaching a list of Kiwi words for Henry and Isolde—book one of the Trilogy because there were quite a few words Izzy uses, that people may not know. They’re also on my website under Kiwisms. I say Crikey and Crikey Dick all the time. It's an exclamation of surprise, similar to wow. I had Isadora saying, “He wouldn't have a bar of it.” 

It wasn't until my editor asked and I looked it up, that I realized it was a New Zealand and Australian phrase. It means, you won't touch it, or be interested in it. I had to change it to “My Daddy wouldn't cotton to it.”

So, yes, I need my editor for my speech patterns and Kiwi words. 
I do try and keep most of Izzy’s words Kiwi ones as I’d use here. I say “the kitchen bench,” instead of “the kitchen counter.” A washcloth is a facecloth. I know that if any of the NZer read it, and I have something wrong—they’ll write to me. Not “write me” as Americans say. J  

I need my editor for obviously her brilliant editing (and she is good!) but also to get my American words right too. My one thing I didn't change for Izzy was that she calls underpants for women—panties. New Zealand women generally just call them pants or the dreaded U word (undies.) But I thought that was just too confusing, so went with the Americanism on it. I think I can get away with that, because Izzy has lived in the States ten years and will have a few Americanisms onboard. LOL. I occasionally use the word toilet, but mostly, it’s bathroom now.  

New Zealanders find this word an American ‘affectation.’ But I realized when I came here to live that it’s because most of the time, the toilet IS in the bathroom. In New Zealand, it’s nearly always in a separate small room, like a WC or water closet. The more modern home have a toilet in the bathroom now or refitted houses.  

I have to work harder with Henry and Charlie obviously on words. Henry’s a real old Southern gentleman and has a soft Louisiana cadence to his voice. So he speaks in a less 'decisive' style in some ways. I've heard Morgan Freeman speak like that and he's from the South. He'll use “It was a good review, I guess.” Not meaning, it was doubtful it was good. But as a soft modest acceptance that it was good.  

And Harry Connick Jr. is a native born New Orleanian, he has the soft cadence, but not the full Southern drawl. These are the voices I hear when I hear my Henry and Charlie. J

Thank you Chris, this has been really fun. :-) Great questions. :-) Thanks and aloha everyone Meg :-) 

Next week: I’m going to interview my characters, so you can get more idea of who they are. Thanks everyone for reading! I appreciate it so much!!!

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