Ever find an author’s work so engaging that you can’t wait to find out more about the author and their writing habits? I feel that way about Mia Thompson every time I read one of her books. If you are a reader or a fellow author–this guest blog will be insightful and entertaining. Mia is a truly talented writer and has kindly agreed to share some wisdom with us! Please take a moment to read her post here and check out her books below!
Her latest book:
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Sapphire Dubois is back in the follow-up to the international bestsellers STALKING SAPPHIRE and SILENCING SAPPHIRE, fighting her most grueling serial killer yet.
A summer has passed since the catastrophe at the country club. Heiress and vigilante Sapphire Dubois has escaped to Paris, where she has shed her rich persona and lives as the infamous Serial Catcher. When the handsome Detective Aston Ridder tracks her down, Sapphire returns home to find Beverly Hills in chaos. A new vigilante has taken over Sapphire’s old job, and will stop at nothing to get her predecessor out of the way.
Meanwhile, a man with dark intentions and a deceiving smile has nestled his way into the rich community and is killing off heiresses. It doesn’t take long before Sapphire finds that this man, the next killer she has to catch, is none other than her estranged father. Already plagued by sickening memories, Sapphire is pushed to the limit when her father initiates a deranged game that threatens both her sanity and the lives of everyone around her.
While Aston struggles to keep the woman he loves from drowning in her father’s madness, Sapphire battles to outwit her merciless opponents before time runs out and more innocent blood is spilled.
The Oh That Changed My View on Character Description
As an author, it is easy to picture your main character as a version of yourself, or a version of someone around you. Ask most writers and they’ll tell you that they see some of their own features in their MC’s.
I never thought much about this. The only thing on my mind as I wrote was how I, personally, saw the character, whether his/her specific features pertained to the story or not.
However, if you ask most readers how they view an MC, pre-description, they are likely to give you a version of themselves as well—an adaptation of a face they can meld with their own as they relate to the character.
In 2013, my publishing house, Diversion Books, and I, decided to put up my first novel on Wattpad—an international site for readers and writers—as a book club in promotion for the second book in the series. Soon, my fan base jumped from the US to worldwide and I was getting messages from readers all over the globe.
My first thought: Yay!
Then I got a message from a girl from the UAE, if I recall correctly. She told me how much she loved the book, then asked me what Sapphire (my MC) looked like?
Without thinking, I wrote back and gave her the image of my version of Sapphire. Her reply? Oh.
That Oh said it all and I immediately regretted what I’d done. I’d taken away her image of the main character and ruined the way she related to Sapphire.
Clearly, not everyone in the world is an heiress/spy/astronaut/district 12 resident, but what we do as readers, and what makes stories so great, is that we find ways, despite location, time period, and social status, to put our own features on the character so we can pretend to be them as we go on their adventure. Not every reader does this—I know some are more comfortable with being handed the image—but many find it the easiest way to connect with the character.
Due to this Oh, I was faced with multiple questions. How many books had I read where the character’s facial shape, hair color, eye color, and height didn’t pertain to the story? How many times had I mind-deleted the author’s character description because it didn’t match the image I’d already created?
The most important question of all: Why the hell was I doing the same thing to my readers?
This has nothing to do with being politically correct. It’s about questioning who the characters truly belong to: the person who created them, or the person absorbing them?
Before I answered the message I should have realized that there’s plenty of character description in my novel, and that she, just like I have so many times, had mind-deleted it because it didn’t fit with her image. I should have replied: “Whatever you want her to look like.”
Because of that Oh—that may or may not have meant what I thought it did—I hereby vow to neutralize the descriptions of my future main characters, leaving them as blank canvasses, and stop imposing my personal image on defenseless readers. Unless, of course, it comes down to Writer’s Rule No 1: POPP. Plot Over Personal Preference. (There’s a good chance I just made up that acronym, but it’s still true.)
From here on out, I will do my darndest (grandma-term alert) to make sure that every person, of every hair/skin/eye color, of every length and size, everywhere can see themselves in my main characters. Because once that book is in your hand, dear reader, the characters are not mine; they are yours.
You can find Mia’s other books as well as info on her from her Amazon Author page by clicking
Here: Amazon Central Author Page for Mia Thompson