(The Diatous Wars #1)
Publication date: February 28th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction
For Aris, a talented wingjet pilot, war means sacrificing everything: her home, her name, her face—and the one promise she swore she’d never break.
In the small village of Lux, everyone flies wingjets, but nobody flies them like Aris Haan. When she’s not dancing through the skies, she’s spending every minute with Calix, whom she’s loved since childhood. They plan to Promise, but instead he is sent to defend their dominion against a bloody invasion. Determined not to lose him, Aris follows, joining an underground network of women inside the male-only military. Using secret technology that allows her to pass as a man, she becomes “Aristos”, a Flyer in a search-and-rescue unit.
As Aris grows stronger on the battlefield and more comfortable in her guise as Aristos, her personal mission becomes less and less clear. When she and her enigmatic commander, Major Vidar, uncover an astonishing conspiracy that could destroy everything, she must make a choice that will determine not only the fate of her heart, but the future of her dominion.
What makes a character "real" for you?
One of my biggest writing challenges is finding a balance between making my main characters likable and making them real. Creating a character who always does the right thing for the right reasons saps so much potential conflict from a story…but how do you make a flawed character, doing the right things for the wrong reasons, or the wrong things for the right reasons, compelling enough that your readers will take a journey of transformation with her? What makes a messed up character worth reading about?
I don't really have the answers. My best advice is to love your characters, even the "bad" ones. Learn as much as you can about them so they feel real to YOU. And try to get as much of their essence on the page as you can. There's not a single character that EVERYONE will relate to and enjoy, but if you can make their choices believable - even if they're the wrong choices - your readers will stick with you to watch your characters learn from their mistakes.
Here's a little introduction to Aris Haan, the main character in SHATTERED VEIL, and some of the ways she feels "real" to me:
Aris is, without doubt, my favorite of all the characters I've written. Not because she's the "best" or because she's brilliant and makes all the right decisions, but because she goes through this incredible transformation. She begins the story as someone who has no conception of her own value and strength. She thinks she needs others to take care of her, and she's put all of her energy and focus into her relationship with her boyfriend. Then he gets sent to war.
The feelings she has initially - the longing and desperation, the fear that something will happen to him, the agony of their last embraces before he has to depart - all of that is what I felt when my husband was sent to war. But Aris's story is her own. And her journey isn't just about being with her boyfriend. She discovers there's a lot more to fight for than just love. She reminds me a lot of who I was in high school…and who I wish I could become. A lot of her journey is discovering her own strength, both physical and emotional, and realizing how much of that strength she had within herself from the very beginning.
I know this sounds really corny, but I was inspired by Aris as I was writing her story. She has a empathetic but steely core that feels very real to me. Even when she doesn't do things for the right reasons, she WANTS to be doing them for the right reasons, if that makes sense. And when she DOES become a badass, she doesn't lose her humanity.
Probably the quality I love best about her is that she is unapologetically AWESOME at flying wingjets. That's one talent that she totally owns…she's never humble or insecure when it comes to her flying skills. I think a lot of time in YA literature, girl characters are portrayed as really insecure and unaware of their own awesomeness. Which probably comes from not wanting a character to come across as "bitchy" or "arrogant". But come on! Teenaged girls have so much to feel confident about and be proud of….and they should be ALLOWED to own it.
Maybe it's a contradiction to have Aris be both unaware of her own physical and emotional strength and simultaneously 100% confident in her abilities as a flyer, but that's the thing. Real people ARE contradictions. We have strengths and weaknesses. We're proud of our bowling prowess but embarrassed of our dance moves. We're kick-ass in English but collapse into quivering heaps when Algebra is mentioned. To me, Aris's contradictions are what make her real.
So, what makes a character feel real to you?
I hope you'll check Aris out in SHATTERED VEIL. I'd love to hear what you think of her, or if there are other characters in the book that jump off the page for you (Dysis is another of my favorites. ;-)).
Thanks for having me!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tracy E. Banghart is a cheesy movie–loving, fantasy football–playing (go Ravens!), globe-trotting Army wife who began “practicing” her craft at the age of five, when she wrote her first story. She loves visiting the international friends she met while pursuing her MA in Publishing and spends a portion of every summer at her family’s cabin in Canada, where she finds inspiration and lots of time to relax on the dock. She lives with her husband, son, two lazy dogs and one ornery cat. When not writing or spending time with her family, she is on a mission to bake the perfect cupcake.
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter