Hey all well I recently got the chance to do an interview with author Tony Bertauski. We talked about characters as well as character development and also how our personal views affect our characters and how the story is shaped.
How do you feel that your views on the world affect how your character views it?
That seems hard to avoid, but it’s true. My views are typically reflected from years of practicing
Zen, but they tend to be real and imperfect. Human.
Do your characters ever resemble you in your beliefs?
Some do. But there are others that are just fun to go the other way, especially antagonists. I do
find it interesting, even courageous, when authors can write very demented, sick and twisted
antagonists. It’s very revealing to show the world what’s bouncing around in your head.
Do you have a character thats the most like you?
Socket Greeny was probably the closet. That was the first book I wrote. He struggled with
growing up, then found out he had all these “powers”, but life really didn’t get any easier. Not
that I have powers.
Do your interests ever slide over into your characters?
Most definitely. Especially those of spiritual nature, the big questions of “Who am I?” and
“What’s this all about?” and “What is the nature of reality?” I use my writing to explore these
Does your personality ever show through in your characters?
Sometimes, especially the humor. It’s hard not to. It’s a challenge to not let that become a habit
because it’s too easy and, after a while, boring.
How do you write a character thats your complete opposite?
Sometimes that’s fun to do, especially when the complete opposite entails characteristics I wish
I had, such as walking straight into trouble without fear. I find that the easiest way to approach a
character unlike me, and the most gratifying.
And do you ever have issues doing that?
The only time I cringe is when the character exhibits qualities that are too unlikable. I don’t want to read a book with someone that’s flat-out unlikable, and not even fun to hate. I like characters that have some redeeming quality, even the most despicable ones.
How do you find the traits you want in your characters?
A lot of times the characters evolve with the story. I have backed up and rewrote characters
when, halfway through, I realized they should be more like this, or have more pain here, or be
more compassionate there. They always start out someone flat and two dimensional, but by the end they are much more complex.
Do you ever feel a connection with your character because of the similarity between you and them?
That was the case with Socket Greeny. After three books, I was very invested in that character.
Maybe because it was written in first person or the fact that he was called to an altruistic duty
and sacrificed much. I don’t think the sacrifice was necessarily a similarity, in that sense, but
there were elements that put me in touch with him. Like many authors, I’ve found myself crying
as I wrote final chapters.
How often do you write characters with views like yours?
Probably every book, to some degree. It’s expressive. It’s also revealing in a therapeutic sense,
puts me in touch with feelings and views that I didn’t know I had. As long as it’s not preachy, it
What's a downside to writing a character that's similar to you?
Predictable. Boring. If every book I write is similar, it ceases to surprise the reader.
Have you found a difference between how your readers react to the characters similar to you and the ones that differ greatly and if so what was the difference?
Not that I’ve noticed. However, I do think the greatest challenge of the writer is to bring this
character that’s fully fleshed out in his or her head onto the written page so that the reader
can experience that, too. As a writer, I don’t have the reader’s perspective. Bridging those
experiences—mine and theirs—is quite a challenge.
How do you prepare yourself to write for your characters? For example (writing notes, acting out scenes as the characters etc)
Sometimes I’ll write character cards with physical attributes and characteristics. (I wish I did
more of this so I could quickly access them when I write about them later.) Mostly, I have a story
arc and plug characters into it and they develop themselves. It’s cool to feel it evolve this way.
What do you think is the most important aspect of writing a character?
Letting him or her grow in my head. It’s when I’m driving to work, taking a shower, or lying in bed that they come to life. It’s also one of the most gratifying elements of writing.
If you would like to read any of Tony's books then go to this link
You can listen to one of his audio books for free here.