Welcome Entangled author Kelley York to the Boost!
She's here to discuss the internal dynamics of her characters and here's what she had to say...
What Makes them Tick
I'll admit being drawn to characters in books (Cole St Clair from Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver series, Will from Brother/Sister), movies, and even celebrities (John Lennon) who are so terribly broken in the head. I love picking apart a character to figure out what makes their brain tick. I could write and write and write about my theories on Lennon suffering from paranoia and borderline personality disorder, or Cole St. Clair's narcissism and Will’s massive paranoia.
Which means when it comes time to build my own characters, I do this, too. Either I know ahead of time my character has had this specific bit of trauma or event in their past and I'll have to figure out how I feel it will shape them in later years, or I realize my character has a tendency toward certain actions—codependency, "clinginess", fear of abandonment, anger issues, depression—I want to analyze why. I want to figure out what it is that made them that way.
Of course, I'm no pro, but this is where the internet and (gasp!) books are your friend and research is essential.
Not that I'm saying every character ought to have some kind of dysfunction about their personality. But, let's face it; we all have our ticks and habits, in part shaped by our growing up experiences.
The fascinating thing about psychology, though, is that two different people can grow up in the same environment, but turn out entirely different. A pair of siblings dealing with abusive parents won't necessarily end up exactly alike. One might lash out wildly and repeat many of the same mistakes her parents made with her own children. The other sibling might have withdrawn into herself, dealing with her feelings of resentment and anger internally. They might both have problems, but the way they handle it and the way they grow from their experiences can differ greatly. (Trust me, I've seen examples of this and it really does amaze me.)
In the case of Hushed, with Archer, his personality was both fun and tricky to dissect. I'd originally intended in going a slightly different direction with him. Archer started out as far more manipulative, scathing, and angry. Many traits that eventually went off and became Vivian's instead. Archer became the one who internalized his anger and hurt and felt the only way to alleviate his own guilt and pain was to take care of everyone around him. Vivian became the one who lashed out with it and brought hell to everyone around her. If she was hurting, everyone else needed to hurt, too.
Evan was meant to be the middle ground. A little on the shy side, sure, but otherwise typical. In this case, typical, 'normal,' is precisely what someone like Archer needed to balance his insecurities and uncertainties. For Vivian? Well, she might've been able to find someone capable of handling her, but until she got some serious mental help, the types of boys she's drawn to will stick her in an endless cycle of abusive relationships. Effectively, an endless loop she's pretty doomed to repeat until she—or someone else—can put the brakes on. Something Archer tried to do, but ultimately he spent his years running alongside her instead of stopping her.
Hushed started out as a story about a boy who killed people for the girl he loved. Everything else fell into place when I delved deeper to find out his reasons, his background, and what (or who) could redeem him.
I think every good novel idea starts out with an intriguing 'about.' "This story is about someone who does this..."
What turns it into a good story is when you stop to ask and explore "Why?"
A Note from the Book Boost: Kelley, this story sounds very intriguing. I love delving into the psychology and psychosis of characters. Thanks for the post and please tell us more about the book.
He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.
Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.
Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached.
The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.
But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants…
And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.
Want More Kelley?Kelley was born and raised in central California, where she still resides with her lovely wife, daughter, and an abundance of pets. (Although she does fantasize about moving across the globe to Ireland.) She has a fascination with bells, adores all things furry - be them squeaky, barky or meow-y - is a lover of video games, manga and anime, and likes to pretend she's a decent photographer. Her life goal is to find a real unicorn. Or maybe a mermaid.
Within young adult, she enjoys writing and reading a variety of genres from contemporary with a unique twist, psychological thrillers, paranormal/urban fantasy and horror. She loves stories where character development takes center stage.