Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Guest Blog: Graced by Amanda Pillar

UFI welcomes Author Amanda Pillar. Thanks for Joining us!!

Character inspiration 

I was recently part of a wonderful anthology, Cranky Ladies of History, published by FableCroft. It features a plethora of stories about important women of history; about their lives, foibles and victories. And it made me think, how often do popular women (or men) influence authors in their creation of their characters? 

My novel, Graced, has four main characters, but only one is a woman. I didn’t want Elle to be a wallflower, or a passive character where life just happens to her. And it made me think: how much of Elle was created through my admiration or dislike of famous women? Fictional or real. 

So here’s 5 women who I think had influences on Elle’s development: 

  • Bella Swan (Twilight). Not because this story features vampires and shape shifters, but because I wanted someone very different to Bella: I wanted a woman who was empowered, and who refused to allow a man to dictate her life to her.
  • Countess Elizabeth B├íthory (The Blood Countess). The most prolific serial killer in history, by some accounts. This is the kind of woman who could easily live as an aristocrat in the Graced world, and she stands for much of what Elle hates: entitlement, disregard for human life, and a hunger for power.
  • Beka Cooper (Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff). She’s honourable, hardworking, and has a unique talent.
  • Surreal (Black Jewels Trilogy). She’s kick arse. Fights for those she loves. And did I mention she’s a bad arse?
  • Margaret Thatcher (former Prime Minister of Britain). Okay, this isn’t really an influence on Elle’s character, but may be a bit representative of her grandmother, Olive, who has had a role in Elle’s upbringing. Love her or hate her, Olive only wants what’s best for her people, whether they want her version of ‘best’ or not.

Then there is Dante, one of my other main characters. He was a challenge to write, as he’s a sociopath, but I wanted him to be realistic…so which 5 individuals helped me develop his unique traits? 

  • Dexter (Dexter). He’s a sociopath, but he tries to be good and has developed his own moral code.
  • Patrick Bateman (American Psycho). Patrick is an interesting result of Easton Ellis’ research. I wanted to make Dante sympathetic, whereas Patrick can be hard to relate to as a reader.
  • Johnny Depp. Well, this was more of a physical inspiration. Dante looks (in my mind) a little how Depp does in Sleepy Hollow.
  • Ian Pavlov. Not because Dante likes to play with bells. But because Pavlov didn’t just experiment on dogs, but also children. Ethics?
  • Charles Darwin. Not for personality or traits. Just the methodical and meticulous way in which he researched and studied.

I’m sure there are many more sources of inspiration for all my characters, but these are the names that spring to mind easily. Every character an author creates is individual, but they’re not developed in a vacuum. No one person is the model for Elle or Dante; rather, they were born of a thousand different ideas, until each became their own.

Amanda Pillar is an award-winning editor and author who lives in Victoria, Australia, with her husband and two cats, Saxon and Lilith.

Amanda has had numerous short stories published and has co-edited the fiction anthologies Voices (2008), Grants Pass (2009), The Phantom Queen Awakes (2010), Scenes from the Second Storey (2010), Ishtar (2011) and Damnation and Dames (2012). Her first solo anthology was published by Ticonderoga Publications, titled Bloodstones (2012). Amanda is currently working on the sequel, Bloodlines, due for publication in 2015.

Amanda's first novel, Graced, will be published by Momentum in 2015.
In her day job, she works as an archaeologist.

Find Amanda and her books

 City Guard Elle Brown has one goal in life: to protect her kid sister, Emmie. Falling in love–and with a werewolf at that–was never part of the deal.

Life, however, doesn't always go to plan, and when Elle meets Clay, everything she thought about her world is thrown into turmoil. Everything, that is, but protecting Emmie, who is Graced with teal-colored eyes and an unknown power that could change their very existence. But being different is dangerous in their home city of Pinton, and it's Elle's very own differences that capture the attention of the Honorable Dante Kipling, a vampire with a bone-deep fascination for a special type of human.

Dante is convinced that humans with eye colors other than brown are unique, but he has no proof. The answers may exist in the enigmatic hazel eyes of Elle Brown, and he's determined to uncover their secrets no matter the cost...or the lives lost.

New Releases: 3/1-3/7

Tue. March 3rd

 Binding Ties (Sentinel Wars #9) by Shannon K. Butcher
 Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega #4) by Patricia Briggs
 The Memory Key by Liana Liu
 Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid #4) by Seanan McGuire 
 Sworn To Love (L.O.S.T #3) by Karin Harlow

Happy Reading!