Today we are pleased to welcome author Marion Croslydon to Pink Fluffy Hearts where she'll discuss how to create believable connections between two characters and dissect the relationship between Madison LeBon and Rupert Vance in her novel Oxford Whispers.
How to create a believable connection between main characters:
Dissecting Madison LeBon and Rupert Vance's love
Hello Corina, Val, and Andi! Thank you so much for having me at Pink Fluffy Hearts. You have a lovely-designed blog, and I really enjoy following your reviews and posts. Keep on all the hard work, but don’t break up with Netflix!
After writing two novels (Oxford Whispers and its sequel, Oxford Shadows, out in May 2013), I’ve come to realize that the most difficult element to master in writing is characterization. If an aspiring author works very hard at her craft, the mechanics of novel writing, or plot building, I believe she might be able to produce a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It might make perfect sense. However a novel is a different animal, and, at its heart, are the characters, their dreams, their fears, their passions, their shortcomings, and secret sins.
More than characters, a novel breathes through the relationships these people have with each other: Family, friends, arch-enemies… lovers. When I tell people I’m a romance writer, I sometimes get a patronizing look. Romance is considered like the lowest common denominator. How difficult can it be? Well, it’s actually the most challenging part of writing. Whether it’s a Harlequin, or a high-brow literary fiction, I don’t know a book without romance. The love story will make or break the novel, whether it takes center stage or it seems like a secondary storyline. If you screw it up, you’re done. Readers have to believe. They have to identify themselves, they have to care, they have to love.
Oxford Whispers is the story of Madison LeBon, an American student at Oxford University, with psychic powers she prefers to ignore. But when the tragic lovers in a painting begin to haunt her, she must learn to accept her gift. Otherwise, life will imitate art and Madison's own first love will be doomed.
I’d like to say that Oxford Whispers isn’t a Young Adult novel. It belongs to the emerging genre called New Adult. Some amazing books in that genre have recently met a huge success. Easy by Tammara Webber and Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire are two of them. I’d strongly encourage anyone to have a look at them (if you haven’t yet). They’re great stories.
Because of the genre, the relationship between Madison and Rupert isn’t necessarily following the same tempo as if they were sixteen. They’re twenty-one, grad students at Oxford, and although they both have different romantic and sexual pasts, they’ve experienced enough to set their own pace, to know what feels right. They’re totally into each other, hormones run high, and well, they’re young and healthy, if you see what I mean, but sex isn’t necessarily the “be all and end all” of their relationship. At least, not like it would have been if they had been in high school.
The cornerstone of their story and what they have to work hard at is TRUST. By trust, I don’t mean only jealousy, loyalty, cheating etc. There are awesome New Adult books out there dealing with those feelings (Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens is one of them). No, Madison and Rupert have to trust each other enough and find the courage to be themselves with each other.
Of course, Oxford Whispers is a paranormal romance. So there are a few ghosts and some Voodoo tricks, but it’s really about finding the strength to open up, to show your true colors, your vulnerability, not just to yourself but to the person you love. When you go to college, you leave behind your home, family, the friends who saw you growing up. It’s a fresh start, and it’s normal to want to “pretend.” In a way, it’s the time in your life when you can be whoever you want to be. But, if there’s any “message” in Oxford Whispers, it’s that the real “growing-up” is really about accepting where you come from (whether it’s your family or a place), your past, then move forward.
A lot of the drama and the tension in Oxford Whispers result from Madison and Rupert failing to trust each other, from them holding back. It’s a romance so they will succeed at the end, the fun for the reader is to find out HOW.
Also make sure you check out the rest of the tour dates. Marion will be giving away a $20 New Adult Reading pack to one commenter on the tour. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning are!
I am a true citizen of the world. I was born in West Africa, grew up in the South of France, and studied in Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Cape Town, and Oxford before finally settling down in London. This wide variety of cities has provided lots of inspiration for my writing. Talk about culture exposure!
In addition to being an author, I work as an entrepreneur, wife and mother-of-one but spend a good deal of time with books, DVDs and listening to my mp3 player; all for the sake of inspiration, of course. My debut series, The Oxford Trilogy, has been a blast to write because I can indulge in my favorite types of music: Country and English rock.
My main goal as a writer is to make readers dream bigger and cause their hearts to beat a little faster. Since my writing is all about sharing dreams and stories, I love connecting with fellow readers and authors.