Saturday, 14 July 2012

Carol Chance

Today I'm delighted to have Carol Maclean with me. Carol has a new book out with Astraea.Press,
'Wild for Love.' Her blog is
'Wild for Love' is available at Amazon as well.

Something that fascinates me is how an author finds their characters so I asked Carol to tell me how she does this
Do you start with you characters or your plot?
It depends. Each story is different - sometimes a character will come to me fully formed and I then weave a story round them. However for 'Wild For Love' I had the plot in mind and then came up with the characters - they had to have opposing viewpoints so they could clash over the environmental issues raised in the story. So Polly (an Ecologist) and Jake (a property developer) were born.

Do you write a biography of all your character/main only/none?
I write a brief biography of all the characters. I find if I make it too detailed I get bored with them and don't want to write their story. As I write, I find things out about them and they develop and change in ways that at the start, I might not have imagined!

Do you base your characters on a real person/film actor etc or are they entirely imaginary?
They are mostly conjured up from my imagination. I never use actors to base them upon although I admit to a lot of people-watching on a daily basis and if someone's interesting enough, then an attribute may be used in a character.

Do you cut photos out of magazines to use as your main characters?
Never - I can see my characters quite clearly in my mind. I don't need a photo.

Do you see your characters or only hear them or both? 
I see and hear them - when I'm working on a chapter it's like a film set - I can see the action and hear the dialogue.

How many characters do you think are too many for a book to work?
Probably two main characters (heroine and hero) and three or four minor characters are enough. In 'Wild For Love' Polly's sister Lou and her husband Ian are having marital difficulties which are dealt with sensitively and resolved during the book - they are there so that Polly can reflect on the nature of love and learn for herself what real love means. Jake's mother is an important character too for Jake to learn to grow up and move on to what he really wants out of life.
We've all read stories where there are so many characters we have to flick back through the book to remember who they are! I don't want that to happen in my stories.

How do you make your characters individual? Accent? Catch phrases? Mannerisms? Other things?
I use catch phrases and mannerisms to some extent but I do try to be careful not to make the characters charicatures. I may use accents occasionally but I find a bit of local dialect goes a long way! The best thing to do is read out dialogue from the story and see if it works. Can I distinguish who is speaking from cadence and choice of words? If not, I've failed and have to try harder to individualise them.

Do you write with multi-view point/deep third/first/omnipotent/narrator –or a combination of these?
I write in third person but swop POV (Point of View) between the heroine and hero as the plot devlops.

How often do your characters run away with your plot?
Quite a lot. As the characters develop and mature the shape of the plot naturally changes. That's fine, I don't have a problem with that. The end of a book is always in the mist anyway when I start off.

Would you ever kill a main character/child/animal/villain?
I haven't yet but it's a possibility in the future....

In your opinion which is more important –plot or character?
For romance, most definitely character. The plot comes from the interaction between the heroine and her hero.

That's great, Carol. Thanks for giving us an insight into the way you work.

Wild For Love:
Polly is an ecologist, passionate and uncompromising about wildlife rights. Against her better judgment she falls in love with Jake, heir to a London media empire, whose development company is about to destroy a beautiful marsh. Can love ever blossom between two such different 


  1. Good interview with lots of interesting points. Hope the launch went well, Carol and that the book does well.

  2. Thanks Ruth and Mary for your support here and on facebook - very much appreciated!