– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Housekeeper of Thornhallow Hall’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a guest post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Lotte James trained as an actor and theatre director, but spent most of her life working day
jobs crunching numbers whilst dreaming up stories of love and adventure. She’s thrilled to
finally be writing those stories, and when she’s not scribbling on tiny pieces of paper, she
can usually be found wandering the countryside for inspiration, or nestling with coffee and a
She arrived as a housekeeper
Will she leave as a countess?
To some, Thornhallow Hall might be tarnished by tales of vengeance and ghosts, but to new housekeeper Rebecca Merrickson it represents independence and peace from her tumultuous past. Until the estate’s owner, William Reid, the disappeared earl, unexpectedly returns… After clashing with him over the changes she’s made to the house, Rebecca slowly unearths the memories that haunt brooding Liam—and her defiance gives way to a shockingly improper attraction to her master!
Guest Post :
How developing characters for theatre informed my process as a romance writer
If you peek at my bio, you’ll see that I trained as an actor and theatre director. I love theatre, and still work in the industry when I can, mainly as a director. Some might say those nice pieces of paper I earned in pursuit of an acting career are now just that – pretty pieces of paper. But I honestly don’t think I would be the writer I am today, if I hadn’t learned all I had on that path.
Actors create characters. It is a group effort, or at least, in my opinion, should be, between all the parts that make up the whole; writer, director, creatives… Whether a Shakespeare, or a new piece of devised work, creating a piece of theatre, TV, or film, is only possible if all the parts work together. But at the heart of the actor’s work, is taking a character, and bringing them to life. Giving them breath, and making them real.
You are taught many tools, tricks, and techniques to make that happen. Everyone has their preferred methods; some like some Chekhov (Michael – not Anton), while others prefer some Uta Hagen. Some start with movement, others with research. Most I’ve met use an arsenal, pulling out different tools for different projects.
Typically, you begin by looking at the trajectory of the play. You have certain moments to work from; the character’s story as it is given by the writer or creator. Many, myself included, build from there, working through intentions and actions, motivations and objectives, as well as what the character uses to fulfill those objectives. Are you guilting others? Seducing them? What’s working? You’re looking at power – who has it, and who wants it? All this informs who the characters are (to you).
From there, always a storyteller at heart, my process continued with piecing together the rest of the character’s story. Filling in the blanks – the what happened before this scene or what happens after the play. I think many writers and actors share an affinity for character bios – along with lists of favourite colours, foods, or pieces of music. Then I would look at movement, and voice. What is their center? Head, heart, or gut? Do they move quickly, or slowly? Does their place of birth inform the way they speak?
You can begin to see how very similar building characters in fiction might be, and how such in-depth, pointed work, might transition nicely to writing. All that I’ve mentioned are tools I still use to build characters in my novels. Sometimes, if I’m stuck on a character, I will literally take a walk in their shoes, and break out my old acting skills. I’ll try on some clothes, or a way of moving. I definitely am guilty of talking out scenes – making sure it sounds human, and like my character.
And of course, at the heart of characters, well, humans, is emotion. On stage and on the page, particularly in romance, you need to know what the character is thinking, how emotions and patterns of thought inform decisions and action.
For The Housekeeper of Thornhallow Hall, I began with an image – the housekeeper before the grim mansion. But what brought her there? What made the lord run from there? What emotions can be powerful enough to drive them along the paths they have tread so far? What do they lack? How has their work informed how they move, and speak, and relate to each other? (To know the answers, naturally you’ll have to read the book…)
I read a quote from Kafka a few weeks back that really stuck with me: ‘A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside of us.’ There are so many thoughts on what art is, what it should be. For me, it is something like what Kafka says. And to be the axe, you first have to break through and explore the frozen depths of those things you put on stage or on the page. For when there is truth in the work, human truth, then, and only then, can it reach out and touch others’ hearts.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds