Friday, 8 April 2016

Writing - The relationship with your characters

When we create a character in a book do we have any kind of relationship with that character or are they simply two dimensional and paper bound.

Image result for Kate Tempest
Kate Tempest

Kate Tempest is a successful spoken word artist and poet but she has now written her first novel The Bricks that Built the Houses. She has an interesting view of the relationship between herself and the characters she has created.

The narrative below is Kate Tempest answering questions about her novel.

This is a story and a set of characters you’ve addressed before. Why did you want to return to them?

You end up falling in love with the characters you create, especially because I’ve been touring with them for so long. I’m living with them every night on stage when I’m singing about them, then in the day drafting the novel on the tour bus.
They seem to inhabit every space - you walk around and you live with them and they become fiercer and brighter and for some reason I didn’t feel done with them - they kept wanting to come out.

It is interesting that Kate expresses her feelings for the characters she has created in such strong terms. I understand where she is coming from. I wouldn't say that I love Patrick Steele but he has certainly become precious. There was a point when I felt that I would kill him off but for whatever reason that has not happened as yet and seems to have disappeared as a future plan.


There’s a world-weary, jaded air to these characters. Is that a generational thing or specific to the experiences of these particular individuals?

I feel that something has happened to this generation, my generation. In the 1950s and 60s there seemed to be hope for change, for imagining something that could change the social climate.
There was a more optimistic use of the imagination to come up with alternatives to the way that things were. There was belief in a movement for change.

For me the way Kate describes the difference between the early years of the baby boomer era and nowadays through her characters, is a valid and interesting way of expressing personal concerns through fiction. It is something that writers have done through the ages and is a powerful vehicle that can influence governments. We just have to remember the way the USSR treated their own authors, imprisoning them, banishing them and worse, to appreciate the power available to writers.
Kate Tempest goes on to expand on this idea.


The experiences you write about feel like they’re very familiar to you. How autobiographical is this material?

With all fiction it begins in truth. The best fiction begins in some moment that feels so real and right with you that it sends you to try and make sense of it through writing. 

I really like her summation of fiction and truth, it is powerful and I totally agree with what she is saying. Sometimes a 'truth' is so powerful that the speed at which I write is quite surprising to me and that can be the case in writing both prose and poetry. There is only the writer who can identify that 'truth' as it is a personal, internal process which triggers the inspiration.

The Steele novels, Cessation and the poetry I write, touch on a number of truths but there is a sense of joy when these inspirational moments occurs.

God Bless