“It’s a legitimate question,” my sister insisted over the phone.
“Is not,” I shot back.
“Well….if you don’t know the answer…”
“Of course I know,” I snapped at her. “It’s just…does it really matter?”
“It does to me. Maya doesn’t eat human food; she feeds off human auras, so… does she poop or not?”
Writing my first novel has been an amazing adventure. I knew it would be hard. I knew there would be plot holes to fill, dialogue to carefully craft (and then re-craft and re-craft and re-craft…), and pacing knots to patiently untangle. Did I ever think that I would spend several days contemplating whether or not my main character poops?
No, but that’s both the fun and challenge of writing in the paranormal genre. You can make your characters do the most unbelievable things…as long as it’s believable.
What I mean is that the paranormal elements must work; there must be some rudimentary foundation of logic, some master plan or map that the author has built behind the scenes.
Let me take a step back and provide a little context. Earlier this year, I released my first novel, Falling , book one in the Girl With Broken Wings series. Falling is a paranormal adventure featuring Maya, a college sophomore who is abducted and changed into an “Angel”. My angels aren’t of the fluffy-wing, harp-wielding variety. They are a group of genetically-enhanced super humans who possess extremely keen senses, reflexes and strength. Additionally, they can see emotions as colors in the auras that each human exudes. Angels feed off these auras, making humans their number one snack of choice.
When I created Maya as a character, I had to develop her unique voice, define her motivations (easy – she mostly just wants to find and kill the one who changed her), and figure out how her new body worked. I spent a lot of time imaging how Maya interacted with a world in which she could hear the other end of a phone conversation from across the street, run a sub-four minute mile and lift three hundred pounds overhead easily. Then there was the hunger. Enhanced senses are great, but I also had to describe what it was like for Maya to live every day tempted to feed off the energy of the humans around her (including her two vigilante rescuers who also happen to be her half-brothers).
Probably the most difficult aspect of creating Maya was figuring out how the auras worked and defining a consistent system wherein different colors, movement and brightness all helped Maya read the emotional patterns of the humans around her.
My sister wasn’t about to let me off the hook on this matter and made it her personal mission to constantly pepper me with questions like, “what color is angst?”, “what about hubris?”
Hubris? Seriously? I need to have an aura color for hubris?
The easiest paranormal element for me to write was the actual way in which Maya feeds. It’s kind of funny how some things can be so very clear, and other aspects are a struggle to define and develop. Maya’s feeding was definitely on the “very clear” side of things. In fact, it was almost the first part of her I ever saw.
Like most of the things I write, Falling started out as a single scene that materialized inside my head and then wouldn’t leave. I imagined a young woman approaching a bed where her brother slept (this would eventually turn out to be Gabe). To her enhanced eyes, he is cloaked in a beautiful blue aura. She hungers for that aura, for his energy. The addiction is so strong that she cannot fight it. As she drifts closer to the bed, the skin peels back from her palms and vein-covered bulbs lift out of each hand. Unable to stop herself, she reaches out her hand, ready to attach her feeding bulbs to his aura and drain him.
This scene eventually became the prologue of the novel, and I built the angel feeding mechanics around that central vision of the skin peeling back from Maya’s palms and the bulbs slowly lifting out. I added more details and even drew up an “angel anatomy outline” for myself, but the essentials remained the same.
I think readers may be interested to know how much thought writers put into all the background details of how paranormal elements work in their stories and how many reams (electronic reams now) of charts, anatomy outlines, lists of aura-color correlations never see the light of day.
I wonder this myself when I pick up a new paranormal novel (by “pick up” I mean download onto my Kindle). I’m sure it varies from author to author. I imagine some authors are obsessive like me (must make more charts), while others put more faith in the reader’s ability to suspend belief.
I love details. I love feeling the story in my bones, and I love it when readers come to me with questions like “Does Maya need to brush her teeth?” “Can she get pregnant?” But even I have my limits…which is why the poop question will remain unanswered!
Falling is J Bennett’s first novel and the first book in the Girl With Broken Wings series. It is currently available as an ebook for $2.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. J Bennett is a professional copywriter and copyeditor. She also writes the blog www.ShyWriter.com
The intellectual challenge of college and the warm embrace of a serious boyfriend have given Maya the wings she needs to break away from her bookish and shy reserve. Her ideal life comes crashing down when she and her boyfriend are accosted by a stranger. A stranger with glowing hands.
Maya’s boyfriend is killed. She is kidnapped. Changed.
A rescue comes, but not soon enough.
Maya’s senses sharpen, her body becomes strong and agile, and she develops the ability to visually see the emotions of those around her as colorful auras…beautiful auras…tempting auras.
And then there’s the song…
Now, Maya must struggle to control the murderous appetite that fuels her new abilities, accept her altered condition and learn to trust two vigilante half-brothers she never knew she had. As she joins the battle against a secret network of powerful and destructive beings that call themselves “Angels”, Maya vows to find and destroy the one who changed her.
On the bright side, at least Maya’s oldest half-brother has stopped trying to kill her.
J Bennett is a professional copywriter and copyeditor as well as a novelist. Falling is the first book in the Girl With Broken Wings series.
Learn more about Falling at www.GirlWithBrokenWings.com
J Bennett also blogs at www.ShyWriter.com
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