Hey All I got to do an interview with Jenna Elizabeth Johnson about characters and how they resemble you and I got some awesome answers so check them out. :)
How do you feel that your views on the world affect how your character views it?
I feel that my characters, on the whole, reflect many of my opinions. Authors, no matter how
hard we might try to embrace and reflect characters who are different than ourselves, will always
find a piece of our soul or personality residing in those we write about. I like to think that my
characters act as role models for those who will be reading about them, and I hope to portray
real people with flaws and great attributes, but also with great tolerance for those who are
different. This is something I strongly try to live by and something I hope is brought to life in
my characters as well.
Do your characters ever resemble you in your beliefs?
Absolutely. As I said above, I try to write characters who are different and who have learned, or
are learning, to embrace diversity and teach others to do so as well.
Do you have a character that’s the most like you?
So far, the character who is most like me is Jahrra from my Legend of Oescienne series. She’s
a bit of a tomboy and she is stubborn. She’s also much braver than I ever was, or will probably
ever be, but in many ways she is very much like me.
Do your interests ever slide over into your characters?
Yes. My characters enjoy reading and artwork. Some of them like sword fighting and archery
(two hobbies I also enjoy), as well as camping and hiking. Those are activities that I know well,
so my characters are familiar with them also.
Does your personality ever show through in your characters?
I would think it does, whether I mean for it to or not. I’ve also had my friends tell me that
certain characters remind them of my other friends and more often than not, I didn’t even pick
up on it until they pointed it out.
How do you write a character that’s your complete opposite?
I am not going to try to claim that I am any good at writing the perfect character who happens to
be nothing like me at all, because just like anything else, writing improves over time. However,
I can let you know that more often than not, I don’t sit down and decide which traits to give
to a character and which ones to leave out. True, I need to set up the basics: will they be an
antagonist or protagonist; will they help or hinder my hero/heroine? After that, these people
begin to reveal themselves to me as if they had been hiding away in my mind and have just
awakened. Developing characters is like meeting new people and sometimes they have things in
common with me, and sometimes they don’t.
And do you ever have issues doing that?
Sometimes it’s tough trying to relate to someone who, say, enjoys shopping and perhaps going
to parties (I really don’t enjoy those two things :P). One character who really challenged this
comfort zone, however, was Robyn in my Otherworld Trilogy. She sort of just jumped in front
of me and waved her arms as if to say, “Hello! I’m awesome, and spunky. You really should
include me in your story.” Although I could absolutely see myself having a friend like Robyn,
she is so fearless and has no qualms if she makes a scene in public. I’m not like her in those
aspects at all and it has been great fun getting to know her. It was also a great challenge making
sure I stayed as true to her character as I could when I wrote Lorehnin. I had my beta readers
and editor inform me that, on more than one occasion, Robyn wasn’t really being herself. I had
to remember to slow down and really let her speak for me in those instances.
How do you find the traits you want in your characters?
Like I was saying above, most of the time my characters show me a little bit of themselves over
time, just as new friends do. I could be writing a new scene or story with a new set of characters,
and halfway through the book I can discover something new about them. It’s both thrilling and
a little nerve-wracking at the same time, especially when they insist on doing something I know
is going to get them into trouble later.
Do you ever feel a connection with your character because of the similarity betwee
n you and them?
Absolutely. I’m a firm believer in the idea that characters can often exist as different facets of
the writer. I also feel that many of my characters are, in a way, their own people and that as
an author, I am simply the vessel through which they speak. It makes me wonder if the reason
these entities chose me to write their stories is because we share common interests, OR perhaps
I am forcing them to adopt some of my own interests so that I am able to connect with them. It
is a quandary sometimes :).
How often do you write characters with views like yours?
Probably far more often than I should. I think all of my characters have at least one thing in
common with me, or a trait that is similar to one of mine. A few of my characters are like me,
and a few of them only have a few similarities with me. I can be very passionate about my views,
so you most likely won’t find me writing often about characters who have an opposing viewpoint
to my own (unless, of course, they are the antagonist and not the protagonist). Someday I might
want to challenge myself in this aspect, but I wouldn’t say I’m quite up to it yet.
What's a downside to writing a character that's similar to you?
I would think the downside is that I might end up sugarcoating my own flaws, or doing the
opposite and making them appear worse than they are. There are many advantages to writing
characters similar to myself, but it can be terrifying and far too revealing as well. As of right
now, most of my characters (who share some similarities with me) aren’t a complete mirror
Have you found a difference between how your readers react to the characters sim
ilar to you and the ones that differ greatly and if so what was the difference?
In both cases, I’ve noticed readers who might absolutely love, or hate, a character that is similar
to me, and the same goes for characters who are different than me. I suppose this is a great
compliment in that they see my characters as real people. In the real world, there are people we
really enjoy being around, or hate to be near, certain people for one reason or another.
How do you prepare yourself to write for your characters?
For example (writing notes, acting out scenes as the characters etc)
If I think of the world first, I start building the setting and then decide which characters will
inhabit this world. Sometimes, characters come blazing forth into my mind and there isn’t
much I can do to develop them. I will, from time to time, map them out to some degree: make
note of their height, skin tone, hair and eye color, their likes and dislikes, hobbies etc. I try to
flesh them out as real people, but even then, sometimes they behave in ways I never expect.
What do you think is the most important aspect of writing a character?
I think the most important aspect of writing a character is letting them tell their story. I have
sometimes tried to force my characters into behaving a certain way or portraying their book in
a specific point of view, but it doesn’t work. I end up fighting them and in the end, they win.
For example, I started out writing Faelorehn in first person perspective, but someone suggested
I should stick to third person. For a month or so, I struggled against the first person point of
view style, but my main character, Meghan, would have none of it. It just wasn’t meant to be
delivered in third person, and once I accepted that fact, it became much easier to work on the