both sides of the door

front_of_the_DOOR_by_bikobureI told someone I would put Skata’s next interview up today, and so to keep that promise I’ll attempt to write it up sometime this afternoon. Just now, however, I have another thing to talk about – you could call it a spin-off of Jenny’s latest (and excellent; you should go read it) post, The Sounds That You Hear. Near the beginning, she says that too much modern literature feels like a skeleton – it lacks meat for literary bones. I quite agree with her, and I believe I know one of the main reasons why this is so –

The author forgets that they are writing not just one story, but possibly dozens at a time. I’m not talking about all those half-finished WIP’s you keep in a folder on your desktop (I’m as guilty of this as the next man, and probably moreso) – I’m talking about each story you write. Each single story contains a universe of other stories, and they’re all happening at the same time.

You have a main character, and you see the world of the story through his or her eyes. But what about the other characters? You have to realize – for them, the story is theirs. They are the main character. Too often, I read a novel where the main character is decent, but everyone else is a shadow and falls flat of any emotion or depth whatsoever.

For instance, in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo is the main character – and yet, for Samwise, it’s about his quest to protect Frodo, no matter what occurs. For Aragorn, it’s about reclaiming the birthright he isn’t sure he wants. For Eowyn, it’s about her desire for valor and adventure. For Legolas, it’s about a completely unnecessary trip with an aggravating dwarf and a smelly human – I kid, I kid. I love Legolas as much as the next person (he just can’t hold a candle to his father).

In my own novel, Natural Disasters, the main character is December – but for Jasper, Natural Disasters is about protecting his family from a girl who could destroy everything he’s worked toward for a thousand years. For Adam, it’s about trying to love a human girl despite the odds. For Mikael, it’s about trying to survive in an ancient, dysfunctional family. For Celia, it’s about trying to live her own life under the shadow of her brothers.

In short, no matter what the story, every character is the main character in their own eyes. It would do not to forget them – our fictional people have a way of making us pay for neglect, be it with a skeleton-novel or a sudden death.

Meeting Jasper Morgan

jasperblog“If you’re going to be bad, be bad with a purpose. Otherwise, you’re not worth forgiving.”

I’m following in Jenny’s footsteps (or rather, covering hers with mine, as her feet are much tinier) and stealing a set of character questions for someone whom you have all shown interest in, but who lost the March GTTY to Skata. (Yes, Skata will be the GTTY guest for March!) The personage is Jasper Morgan (from Natural Disasters) and Jasper Morgan means…an interesting interview, I’m sure. Jasper remains an intrigue wrapped inside an enigma boxed up in mystery, and so this interview should be enlightening for me, as well. Enjoy! (This is possibly my favorite interview ever)

Physical/Aesthetic Characteristics

1. What color is your character’s hair? Jasper’s hair is brown, but certain lighting brings out red and gold shades.

2. What color are your character’s eyes? They’re frequently mistaken for black, but they are actually a very dark, royal blue.

3. What color is your character’s skin? He has naturally pale skin, in spite of his frequent outdoor activities. Fortunately for him, he never burns in the sun.

4. What special aesthetic characteristics does your character have? While not a stereotypically handsome man, Jasper is undeniably attractive; but it has to do with his chemistry and the world around him. Until you get to know him, that is. Then you may find him good-looking on a physical level as well.

5. Does your character have any piercings? Tattoos? He has a tattoo on his right shoulder blade. It’s a simple circle, but it represents his entire view of life – history repeats itself.

6. What’s the sexiest physical characteristic of your character? As I stated earlier, while Jasper is not ‘technically’ a handsome man, many unique elements combine to make him highly attractive and yes, even sexy. He has a way of looking at you with a certain slant, of wearing his clothes with casual perfection, and an aura of utter confidence that is attractive on any man.

7. What’s the ugliest physical characteristic of your character? I can’t divulge much, as it would give away a large plot twist – but suffice it to say, he gains certain monstrous aspects.

8. What does your character wear? His usual outfit is jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, open at the neck. He frequently pairs it with a jacket of some kind, and nearly always wears expensive, work-type leather boots. He also looks very dashing in a tuxedo.

Expressions of Emotion

9. When your character smiles, what does their smile look like? Jasper has two smiles, really. One, the more frequent smile, is a closed-lip, curling affair, bordering on the Grinch and generally comes out when he has the upper hand, is plotting and scheming, or internally screaming. The other, his genuine smile, is an unconscious grin.

Exhibit A

klaus smile

Exhibit B

klaus grin

Exhibit C – a special smile, reserved only for December.

jasper december smile

10. What does your character’s laugh sound like? “Mine is an evil laugh.” If you took a deep-chested, amused laugh and mixed it with a Hiddleston giggle (eheheheh) you would have Jasper’s laugh.

BONUS: What sort of things would make your character laugh? Like his smile, his laugh comes out when he has the upper hand, or he uses it in place of darker, violent feelings. To make him genuinely laugh, he would have to thoroughly enjoy you and your company.

11. What is your character’s normal style of speech? He sounds very cultured and tends toward soft-spoken-ness, unless he is growling or shouting. When he first meets December, she notes that he says the words ‘dancing partner’ as if they were spelled ‘dahncing pahtnah.’

12. How does your character express/handle anger? Not well. He will hold it in as long as he can – pressing his lips together, curling his hands into fists – but sooner or later, it will manifest in violent ways. He will engage in a fight with a sibling (i.e. Adam) or set something ablaze.

13. Does your character cry? Jasper’s emotions float just beneath the surface, and are far more volatile than his siblings. Therefore, he cries almost as frequently as he laughs or is angry.

14. How easy is it for other people to read your character’s emotions? Jasper masks his true feelings with the opposite reaction. If he’s acting standoffish and devil-may-care, his feelings are wounded. If he acts as if he doesn’t care, it means he cares more than he would like.

Character Beliefs

15. Is your character religious? Coming from a religous family and being born in the old country, he retains elements of faith, but fails to see the big picture.

16. How does your character view those of other faiths? He literally could not care less. He gives small jabs to Adam for attending church, but then he attends a service with December. You never know where he is going to fall.

17. What are your character’s core values? His life is driven not by faith in God, but by a desire to protect his family, even from themselves if necessary. It’s a twisted, paranoid kind of love, and he shows it the only way he knows. He has the thickest skull…it’s astonishing, sometimes.

18. How willing is your character to fight for those values? Extremely. He even started a centuries-old war to protect and avenge his family. When he feels strongly about something, he will throw everything he has into fighting for it.

Character Likes and Dislikes

19. What is your character’s favorite food? He’s a surprisingly good cook and enjoys good food, but his tastes are wide and varied. Trout, if cooked to flaky, tender perfection, is one of his favorites; especially when paired with a good, white wine.

20. What is your character’s favorite color? Probably either light gray or deep blue – at least, if one is going by his clothing choices.

21. What are your character’s sleeping preferences? Jasper is something of an insomniac. He has a hard time sleeping most nights, and stays up painting instead. When he can sleep, he sleeps on top of all blankets and shirtless, otherwise nightmares result in sweaty, sticky clothes.

22. What is your character’s sexual identity? He is completely heterosexual.

23. What are your character’s sexual preferences? Somewhere beneath his twisted bitterness, Jasper is a romantic. He’s very old-fashioned in his pursuit of women who truly catch his interest – he’s a single-rose, jewelry, dancing and discussion-type man.

24. What type of music does your character like? Jasper likes fairly obscure music. He listens to The Prides, Queens of the Stone Age and Dead Man’s Bones most frequently, but his music choices heavily depend on his mood.

BONUS: Does your character have a song that is “their song”? Runnin’ by Adam Lambert. Fighter by Christine Aguilera, because it is almost exactly the way he views life. Hey, Brother by Avicii – although Hey Brother is really the song for the entire Morgan family.

Character Introspection

25. What is your character’s biggest goal in life? He wants to get through life with the family together, in one unit. Protecting his siblings is his life’s mission.

26. What does your character believe is their greatest virtue? The willingness to do what others won’t. He is willing to do (almost) anything, which sometimes comes in handy and sometimes causes a good deal of familial strife.

27. What does your character believe is their greatest vice? Fear, of anyone and anything. Whenever he feels fear, he feels weak; and he views his personal weaknesses as his greatest vice.

28. What motivates your character most? He is a very self-motivated man. He does whatever he takes it in his mind to do, and he won’t stop until it is completed.

29. Is your character objective-oriented? Extremely. He strongly believes that the end justifies the means.

30. Would your character rather be a great person or a good person? Jasper does not care for greatness or goodness – at least, not at the beginning of the novel. He used to, and he may yet again. He wants loyalty; if you will not give it, he will take it forcibly.

31. Would your character rather be hated for being who they are or loved for pretending to be someone else? He would rather be hated for being who he is. He finds it nearly impossible to pretend to be someone he isn’t, even when it would be better for everyone. As skewed as his principles can be, he will cling to them with admirable steadfastness.

32. Is your character an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert? Ambivert. His mood is split fifty-fifty. Sometimes he’s the engaging, outgoing Jasper, yet he frequently wants to be alone with his own thoughts.

33. Is your character creatively expressive? Yes; he finds some freedom and relaxation in oil painting and playing the piano, although he paints more than he plays.

34. What’s your character’s disorder? I would say paranoia. He is constantly suspicious of everyone, even those he loves, and it damages his relationships.

35. What is your character’s standard emotional state? He is constantly volatile, never stable. Completely unpredictable, you never know whether he is going to smile and shake his head, or lash out with a blast of power. Treading carefully is advised.

36. Is your character materialistic? No. He enjoys the pleasures and luxuries of life, but that is all they are; nothing more.

BONUS: What are some of your character’s prized possessions? His most prized possession is the necklace he wears. He has worn it for a thousand years, and it has deep familial significance to him.

37. What is your character’s major learning style? If only he learned through experience. I would say he learns best through rejection, even though I know that was not the intended answer of the question.

38. I am a _________. How would your character complete that sentence? -n immortal. He is constantly reinforcing his nearly immortal state because, in truth, he is terrified of dying and as such, builds himself up as invincible.

39. Life is an act of _________ing. What verb would your character use to complete that sentence? Relationships (I know, it does not end in -ing). It’s constantly a mystery to me; he knows relationships are the most important thing in life, and yet he mangles his own so terribly in the effort to keep them alive.

GTTY March Candidates

All right, ladies and gentlemen! There are several options for the March Getting to Know You interviewee! Pick your favorite and I’ll announce the winner on March 1st!

Note: Angel will have ONE more Q-and-A session, where he will answer as many or as few questions as pop up between now and the end of the month.

Jasper Morgan from Natural Disasters klaussmile

“Standing all alone, I see.”

            The soft, English-accented voice was close, and she turned immediately. A tall young man in a tasteful, tailored tuxedo had approached her without her noticing. His hands were clasped behind his back, and he was smiling at her as if both amused and intrigued.

            “My escort is talking with his sister.” She nodded across the room.

            “Ah, yes.” He nodded. “Still, it seems a shame, to leave someone so beautiful without a dancing partner.”

            Dahncing pahtnah.  Bree would have loved him based on accent alone. He held out a hand, and his smile deepened. He was not exactly handsome, but there was something magnetic about him that was impossible to ignore. He made her want to impress him, and she had no idea why. “Would you do me the honor?”

            She glanced back at Adam, still engaged in deep conversation with Celia. Sean had managed to get a glass of champagne and was looking like a dejected but eager puppy. “I can’t think of a reason to say no.” She smiled and placed her hand in his. “But if Adam cuts in, he gets first priority.”

            “Understood.” He put a hand on her waist, took her other hand in his, and spun her gracefully onto the dance floor. She had thought his eyes were black, but under the light she could see they were a dark, royal blue. “Might I ask you your name?”

            “December,” she told him, leaving her last name out. As charming as he seemed, something about him did not settle well. “And you?”

            “Jasper Morgan.” He nodded toward Adam. “And you seem to be dating my brother.”

Jackson Montgomery kol giffrom This Mortal Coil

There was nothing threatening about the appearance of the new vampire. Short brown hair, a boyish face, and the aura of a rich college kid did not add up to make the most dangerous of first impressions, but, as Skata frequently had to remind himself, you couldn’t judge a vampire by appearance. The harmless, youthful exterior was a disguise for a monstrosity with four hundred years of accumulated speed, strength and cunning.

            How he wished you could just take things at face value.

            He joined Angel and Easton. Jackson noticed him and held out a hand, leaning forward to call over the music, “Jackson Montgomery.”

            “Skata,” called Skata.

            The vampire smiled. It was a large, friendly smile with no animosity behind it, and Skata knew he couldn’t trust that, either. “Quite the party, eh?”

            There was no mistaking Jackson’s smooth, articulate English accent. “Uh,” said Skata, glancing around at the party scene carrying on around them. “Yeah.”

            He tried not to gape when Easton tucked her arm around Jackson’s and said, “Let’s get a drink!”

            “Why, Easton Everett,” Jackson teased. “I thought you despised me.”

            “Uck, that was then.” She nudged him. “This is tonight, and tonight we’re supposed to have fun!”        

            He nodded. “You’re absolutely right. Lead on, fair lady!”

            As soon as they left, Skata turned a simmering glare on Angel. “Don’t let them out of your sight.”

            “Wouldn’t dream of it,” said Angel.

Skata from This Mortal Coil  dean gun

In his dream, he was jogging up the stairs to the bedroom. “Em, darlin’, are you home?”

            The Honda was still parked in the driveway, but she might have gone for a walk down to the park, or maybe out to the pasture for a quick ride. That gave him enough time before they left to shower and change his clothes into something more appropriate for a fancy dinner.

            He turned the knob and walked into his room, in the middle of shrugging off his Carhartt jacket, when he paused. “Em?”

            His wife sat on the edge of the bed, angled away from him. Her dark hair tangled in undone waves, hanging over one shoulder and made it impossible to see her face. Her hands were in fists, clenching and unclenching in her lap.

            “Em, is everything okay?”

            She lifted her head and turned her face toward him, the movement slow and doll-like. Only then did he notice the open window. The chill that shivered through his bones had nothing to do with the winter air.

            “Baby, you’re home.” 

He sat up with a breath that left his lungs as reality came to life around him. It was just a dream. He pushed the blanket away and sat on the edge of the bed, gripping the blanket with both fists.

            Stop it. Just stop it.

            The windows.

            Without thinking, he stood up and slammed the window closed, then strode around the bed and slammed the other window. He pressed a fist to the glass and looked through his reflection to the other side. The street was lit with pale sunlight, and already the sky was beginning to darken.

            “You’ve gotta be kidding me.” He sighed and pushed away from the window. Pain attacked every injury with the movement, but he only opened the door and shuffled out into the hallway. Maybe the half-breed had left his bag – sans the arsenal – somewhere. Everything he owned was in that bag.