It’s that time of the month again – Beautiful People! For the couple of months around NaNoWriMo, though, Sky and Cait switch things up slightly by changing it to Beautiful Books and focus on the NaNoWriMo projects instead.
This year, I’m trying to focus on just one story, These Four Walls, which is a new project that I came up based on a dream a few months ago. It’s a little scary (to me, anyway), because there are three POVs and one of them is a boy. I don’t write boys, at least not their POVs, but I’m going to take a chance on it. Maybe he’ll end up sounding just like my female characters, but I’m going to give it a chance, plus there’s no reason that male characters have to be Super Masculine. So, we’ll see how things go, especially since I have trouble concentrating on just one project for a long time.
One: What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I had a dream with bits and pieces of what this story would become – people on a trip or simply living together in a house, being locked in the house, others on a boy or the docks, some monsters – like most dreams, it made a lot more sense when it was happening, but only bits and pieces have really stuck around. It was just one of many stories that came to me in dreams over the course of a couple months or so this past summer. The day after the dream, I spent time figuring things out, forcing it into a story that made a little more sense, something I’m still finishing up before November.
Two: Describe what your novel is about!
Just as they have done every summer, the Morris family flocks to the familial “cottage,” Morre Manor; something is different these year, though, and the eldest grandchildren, Esmé, Regina, and Grey find themselves dealing with an old family curse. They’re all dealing with their own demons, but they need to come together as a family to face new, but extremely old demons that threaten to tear their family apart.
Three: What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
A combination of darker, more gloomy images mixed in with the brightness of summer.
Esmé // Regina // Grey – the Morris cousins
Colin // Cole – the guests
Four: Introduce us to each of your characters!
- Esmé Morris-Vega: the oldest cousin, the mother hen who spends most of her time focusing on others and not taking care of herself and not worrying about her own relationships; she feels like she can’t look for love because she has a reputation to uphold and needs to focus on being the perfect granddaughter, in a way to make up for the fact that she’s not white and has to work extra hard regardless; she’s a total daddy’s girl, but she and her mom are quite close as well, which just further highlights the fact that she’s more stiff and formal around her grandfather and aunts and uncles
- Regina Morris: her self-esteem has been wrecked by her mother, but she does her best to hide it, which ends up messing her up even more; she also tries to be a clichéd Good Girl, trying to measure up to her cousin, especially since her mother won’t let her settle for second-best; she also feels isolated because she’s not remotely interested in the boys her mother keeps pushing at her in an attempt to make her into some kind of mini-me
- Grey Morris: he’s worried about coming out to his family, so he’s always pushing away from them a bit as a result, even Esmé, who knows that he’s gay and encourages his burgeoning relationship with Colin; he’s an angsty guy who likes reading poetry, but he also tries to measure up to his grandfather’s expectations of being a man’s man by playing baseball, but he finds himself playing it more for the chance to take his hidden anger out by hitting as many homeruns and far hits as possible – but he still can’t love the sport thanks to his grandfather, which simply makes him feel more conflicted and trapped
- Colin Dane: he’s been Grey’s friend for a while, coming to Morre Manor (which, by the way, is named for the Morris family, the family name) for a few years, and has been slowly instigating a relationship with him for the past few months; he comes from a loving and accepting family that lets me explore his feminine side with his love of flowers and fashion while never questioning the fact that he also loves baseball (one thing he bonded over Grey with) and obsessing over cars; he wishes that he and Grey could be out, but he’s been around the family long enough to be totally supportive of Grey’s fear
- Cole Potter: he’s the third in the Grey-Colin-Cole trio – he’s close enough to them that he’s been invited to Morre Manor the past couple of years, but he’s definitely the third wheel at times; he comes from a poorer family and always feel a bit out of place when with the Morrises, which makes him lash out a bit, which is why Esmé and Regina don’t really like him and tend to avoid him, but he and Regina have gotten closer recently because Regina doesn’t like conflict and she’s come to realize that he’s not a bad guy, just misunderstood; he disagrees with Grey that he needs to stay in the closet, but he rarely argues about it anymore because he knows that Grey has his reasons and shouldn’t be forced into anything
Five: How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
I do a combination of outlining, figuring out characters, and relying on aesthetic inspiration such as Pinterest. For this particular project, I but together a Pinterest board and started to figure everything out on paper. I figured out a basic outline, worked on character arcs (something I mostly figure out as I go along, or more likely will worry about in editing), and have been doing some other basic planning on paper as well as some other things on my computer. I’ve also begun writing little snippets when I get ideas for scenes that don’t happen in the beginning of the story (especially with this one, since I can’t actually start writing it until November).
Six: What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
Writing a story that focuses on family and incorporates the feeling of summer and being on a family vacation at a home-away-from-home type of place. I’m also a bit excited for the male POV, when I’m not being terrified of course, and I want to address asexuality with one of the other characters, even if it ends up being subtle or a case of “maybe this is how I feel,” not out-and-out asexuality – I definitely need characters who know they’re asexual, though, because we need more of those in books.
Seven: List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
Family house // part of nature, located on or near water, rustic, second home // East Coast (probably somewhere around North Carolina? I haven’t really thought about it yet)
Eight: What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
They’re all trying to figure out what curse is haunting their family, but more importantly, diving into their family history and figuring out who’s really the villain and who’s the victim. They’re all cousins around the same age, so they’re close, but more out of obligation, so their unintentional goal is to become closer and be true friends, not just biologically-related cousins.
Nine: How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Esmé’s goal is to figure out what’s going on, as well as figure out who she is and be totally comfortable in her own skin, especially as a biracial girl in a rich, white family. She grows closer to her family as well as has her first love, which is more about opening up to another person and getting close to people than “oh, this boy is cute and teenage hormones.” Regina needs to get out of her mother’s thumb and build up her self-esteem and self-worth. And Grey needs to come to terms with his sexuality and getting over familial shame, thanks to having a pretty old-fashioned grandfather who definitely doesn’t think boys are supposed to fall in love with other boys.
Ten: What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
Family, being true to yourself, the fact that nothing is black and white and the bad guy can be sympathetic while the good guy can actually be a pretty horrible person at times, and opening up to other people.