Mark Terry

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Erica Orloff Guest Blog: Appeal

May 7, 2009
My friend Erica Orloff is guest blogging today. Her latest novel, under the name Erica Kirov, is Magickeepers and it arrived in the mail yesterday and I'm going to read it just as soon as I finish the book I'm reading. So, will you please give a warm welcome to The Mahvelous Ms. Orloff!


We all know when we find a hero or heroine that we like to read about. I was very fond of Butch Karp, a creation of Robert K. Tannenbaum (and his ghostwriter, as it came to light). I like Andrew Vachss’s Burke until I reached a point when the darkness got to me a bit and I needed a break from Burke’s world of unrelenting grit.

But what’s the appeal of why you choose to write your particular hero or heroine? It’s not solely, I’m sure, that you want to sell your book. You’ve got to slip into that voice, that fictional character’s life for a bit. So what do you like about him or her, your alter ego, in a fictional sense?

I thought about why I wrote about Nicholai in The Magickeepers. Why did I pick him? Or why did he pick me? And what do I like about slipping back into his voice in Book II, now that I am writing it?

I think I am fond of him because he is true. He is true of heart and loyal, and he will nearly always speak his mind, even to the most intimidating grownups he encounters. He’s very clever. He’s mildly annoyed by the mantle of responsibility thrust on him. And most of all, he is compassionate. My favorite moments are when he has conversations with the Grand Duchess. She is ancient, and half the time he figures she has fallen asleep as she’s talking to him. Yet he is patient and willing to wait for her to tell him her secrets. I modeled him, in some ways, after my Oldest Son, who volunteered at a nursing home and patiently played bingo with a woman who could no longer count and would only laugh—yet my son found her utterly sweet and charming and called her his “friend.” I like people who remember that there is value in every person if only we stop to look.

So that’s the appeal of writing my hero for me, I suppose. We get older. We become adults. We have responsibilities. I like to think I am still “true,” but I know sometimes I am less so—too impatient, too tired, too stressed. So when I write about Nicholai, I get to be true again, if only for a while.

 What’s the appeal of writing YOUR hero or heroine?


Blogger Mark Terry said...

I find sometimes that I'm attracted to the character who does things he or she really doesn't want to do because they need to be done. In the 4th Die Hard movie, I thought it was summed up nicely, when the second fiddle asks Bruce Willis why he's the one who steps forward. He shrugs and says, "I guess I'm just that guy." And of course, by the end of the movie Bruce gets to compliment him by saying that now he's THAT guy.

Derek Stillwater, in particular, I think, is THAT GUY. The one who does what's right even when his instincts scream at him to run for his life.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

LOVE that. I lot of times over my life of volunteer work, I've been asked "Why do you do it?" If not me, then who? But then again, I ain't saving blowing-up buildings or facing down terrorists like Bruce. :-)


11:56 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Not yet, anyway. But tomorrow....?

12:00 PM  
Blogger LurkerMonkey said...

I find that I'm attracted to characters who have qualities I wish I had (or wish I had more of). I like characters who are rebellious, who don't bend easily, and who aren't afraid. They typically aren't kids who need to be liked by everybody -- in fact, my characters often antagonize certain authority figures. I like characters who are fiercely loyal to their inner circles, resourceful and energetic.

The deeper I've delved into character, the more I've come to believe in the idea of personal archetype character. In school, I read about the Hemingway archetype -- like him or not, Hemingway frequently used a certain type of character in his book, one that resonated within him.

I think perhaps all of us have our own little archetypes kicking around inside, and these characters recur again and again throughout our writing. As for what determines each person's archetype, who knows? Maybe sometimes it's the thing we wish we were (like me), and sometimes maybe it's people we are attracted to, and sometimes maybe it's the thing we're glad we're not.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

In my women's fiction/romantic-comedies, I TOTALLY have an archetype. In fact, I have been playing with a proposal . . . and it dawned on me my main character was like so many of my other main characters, even though she was unique--unusual talents from the criminal underworld nurtured by her illegally minded family, loyal, smart, sardonic . . . and observant. Not close to too many people since explaining her background would be too complicated. Avoids love since that's too complicated . . .


1:29 PM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Awww, Oldest Son sounds like the sweetest one. :-)

Oftentimes, I'll get an idea when someone may write about wishing for something, or maybe write about a problem they're struggling with, or something they want but can't get. I write to make them feel less alone, to make them feel loved, to feel understood, to reassure them, to feel okay for the crazy way we all are.

As long as people are real, I find them interesting. Same with characters.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

All my heroes are variations of Dr. Joe Gannon, played by the inimitable Chad Everett.

"I think we need to operate."

Gives me goosebumps.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

P.S. Comment moderation sucks dead bears.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

As for comment moderation, I totally agree with you. Unfortunately, I started it because when I went back to some earlier posts I discovered I had as many as 50 spam advertising god knows what (gold, some video games, etc) on some of the posts. And now that I've got it turned on I typically have to delete 10-15 spam attempts EVERY SINGLE DAY, many of them written in what I assume is Chinese.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Amy Sue Nathan said...

For me, in my first foray into fiction, my characters for the most part possess either traits I wish I had or those I'm glad I don't! I found it fun to write and not think of what I would do or say, but what they would do and say. It has given me amazing perspective.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Joe Barone said...

He is also destined (probably not the right word). As I read the book (Almost finished. I give it a thumbs up!), I thought about vocation, calling, the kind of thing we talk about in the ministry, but not in many other occupations.

Is it some people's vocation or calling to write in the same way it is Nick's vocation to use his gifts to "keep" the magic and fight evil?

4:44 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Of all the writers I know, you are the one most in tune with your readers.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

LOL! I need a surgeon like that.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Sometimes my characters make me braver.


5:35 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Is that because she writes erotica?

5:36 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I never felt it was my destiny to write. I felt it was my destiny to be a mother, though.

And I think of Nick as having a destiny to claim his rightful place. To merge the ways of Damian with the modern world.


P.S. Theo is my favorite, if you haven't guessed by now.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Children! (Erica reaches out her hand). Join me! Together, as Mother and Sons and Daughters, we shall overthrow the emperor and rule the galaxy! It is our destiny!

4:49 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...


5:22 AM  

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