Writer’s Challenge: Interview with a Character

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

First, this is a challenge put together by Ralfast! And it was good fun.

I walked down Huntington, past Symphony Hall. I took a left and continued down the street, passing a mess of restaurants before finding the one I was looking for. It was a discrete, small building identified only by the top hat/tea cup sign that hung over the door. “Hatter and Hare” it said. I recognized the name, one I had created for a project, but my characters had highjacked. I pushed the door open.

What greeted me was a small, pleasant tea room/cafe. It was elegant, tasteful. The Alice in Wonderland motif was understated, with a few small details scattered throughout. I spotted a few decks of cards, an Alice fireplace grate…I knew there were more.

I sat down at the counter, pen and paper in hand. I said a quick hello to the barista, a normal looking guy wearing a bow tie. My character, and the subject of today’s interview. He put a cappuccino in front of me, which I thanked him for greatly.

“Now, let’s get this over with,” said he with a cheeky grin.

“Right,” I said. “First, what’s your name?”

“Well, you came up with me, you should know. But for the sake of the interview. My name’s Daniel Bentham. I’m twenty-seven years old, own this tea shop, and I like long walks on the beach.”

“Do you really?”

“No. I hate the sand. But it just seemed like the right thing to say,” said Daniel. He laughed and poured brown sugar into his espresso. “Sugar?”

“Please,” I replied, and took the sugar from him. “So, Daniel, do you have any nicknames?”

“My sister calls me Danny or Danny-boy. I call her Charlie and she shuts up,” said Daniel. He raised the white espresso cup to his mouth, inhaling the coffee’s rich, warm scent. He exhaled, closing his eyes. I watched his strange ritual another time before he broke it, taking a sip. “Ah! That’s good coffee.”

“Coffee,” I repeated.

“Yeah. Coffee. It’s my passion. Well, one of them. I like tea a great deal, too. The ceremony that surrounds it. Speaking of ceremony, we had a Royal Wedding viewing party. Opened the shop up early, especially for the day. Served tea and scones with clotted cream and jam…but I’m getting off topic. You were conducting an interview, and I so rudely interrupted with my tangent. Please continue.”

“Do you mind describing yourself for the readers?” I asked, a little embarrassed.

“I thought you said this was a photographed interview!” said Daniel in mock horror. “I can’t do justice to myself! Words fail!”

I crossed my arms. “Try, please. I could write it myself, but I’m sure you would rather describe how you see yourself.”

Daniel cleared his throat. “I’m a handsome devil. I have blue eyes and brown hair and I’ve got plenty of freckles. Slightly taller than average, and a nice smile. No jewelery or tattoos. Happy?”

“Good enough. Hobbies?” I said.

“Coffee. And I like classic cars. And events like the Monaco Grand Prix. I want to go one day.”

“Thanks for giving me a straight answer.”

“You’re most welcome,” replied Daniel. He looked at my cappuccino cup and asked if I had finished. I hadn’t–the foam still remained. “Oh! I nearly forgot. Cooking. I love cooking. Especially eating what I cook.”

“Fantastic.” I wrote furiously. “So, can you tell me about  your family?”

“Well…” said Daniel with a sigh. “I have a mother and a father who are alive and well and currently on vacation somewhere. My sister Charlotte and I manage this tea shop. Dunno where she is…probably out getting ingredients.”

“Where are you from?” I sipped at my cappuccino. It was really good–one of the best I’d had Stateside.

“Depends. I usually just say Boston. Most people don’t know the town I’m from, so I don’t bother saying it.” He shrugged. “Plus, it’s boring.”

“Good enough for me. Now, excuse my prying, but do you have any secrets?” I asked.

Daniel stepped back. “Yeah, ‘course.”

“Mind sharing one or two?” I smiled politely, and put the pen down. I didn’t want to betray his confidence.

He looked at me warily, uncertainty writ on his face. “Yeah. They’re secrets. They stay that way.” He crossed his arms and seemed to be hoping I would leave.

“Fine, didn’t mean to pry. Last one’s tough. What do you believe in?”


“Classic, Daniel. Really classic,” I replied.

“I thought you’d appreciate it. Now scram. I need to clean this place up before the lunch rush.”

Daniel’s story takes place in present day Boston, at a whimsical tea shop located near Symphony Hall.

30 Days of Writing: Day Twenty-Five

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

Not many of my characters do. Some, like Peter, have (severe) allergies, and thus can’t have pets (a trait I stole from myself) whereas others, like Geoffrey, have numerous ones at various points in their lives.

Geoffrey has a hedgehog named Milton. I’m not sure why, one day I just determined that a) he had a pet, b) it wasn’t a normal domesticated animal like a cat, dog or hamster, and c) it had a funny name. It hit me that he ought to have a hedgehog because it’s vaguely ridiculous, like him.

By and large, though, I don’t focus too much on whether or not my characters have pets. I actually think that Milton’s been left by the wayside–the presence of the hedgehog isn’t intrinsic to the plot, nor is it to Geoffrey’s character.

Environmentally friendly.

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My characters, as well as being formed by evolution and years of toil, are products of their environments. Their environments strengthen and weaken various parts of their personalities, and let other portions break free.

Again, we’re going to use Geoff as an example.

Geoffrey grew most as a character once I started messing around with his location. After being brought from medieval to Victorian England, Geoffrey became more…likeable. His personality and quirks began to develop around this time period; he acquired a profession (inn keeper) and other characters began to weave their way into his life. Thanks to the other characters and the environment that they provided, Geoff (and they) grew in different ways.

In respect to the current WIP, I can already see how an early location change will affect my MC’s personality. Originally, he was going to end up in Holland following an accident. Now, after a little bit more research, Jim’s staying in England (and above the English channel). His relationships with his fellow pilots (not to mention the others around him) will push him into a different direction than his adventures in Holland. Perhaps we’ll meet his family, which in itself will bring out a side he’d rather not expose, I’m sure.

Names, names, glorious names!

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For days, I’ve been meaning to look up more Dutch, French and Italian names to populate The Continent.

I finally got around to it, and rediscovered my favorite name site(s):

Behind the Name and Surnames.

These sites are particularly helpful. They collect and sort names from different cultures (including seperate sections for mythologies and “ancient”) with pronounciations, meanings and statistics.

Writing with some foreign words

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I love other languages. I took German in middle school (not to mention smatterings of Russian, French and Spanish), Spanish in High School and Italian in college, plus several failed attempts to teach myself Welsh.

CC/ Unprose

CC/ Unprose

Doesn’t work.

Anyways, I like having characters of different nationalities, and using expressions/words to convey that. In The Continent, Liv is Dutch (no, his first name isn’t Dutch, but his family has a naming system they follow religiously).

Anyways, I thought it would be cool if various vessals had names in their home languages. The ship Liv served on ( briefly) is called The Beacon.

I looked it up in Dutch.

Baken. Baken. Bacon.

Although, I have also found “Baak” as another translation. I think I may go with this one.

Brriiing…it’s for you.

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What does your cell phone’s ringtone say about you?

Suppose, for a moment, that your main character has a cell phone.

CC Fauxto_Digit

CC Fauxto_Digit

Even if it isn’t plausible for such a thing.

But what’s his/her ring tone? Why?

Her ring tone could be the latest pop song because she needs constant change, even if its in the little things in life.

His could be the standard, preloaded one because he couldn’t be bothered.

Hers could be an actual telephone ring, to be ironic.

I think Liv, the protagonist of The Continent would probably have a non descript midi file, like the one on 24.