Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kathleen Peacock Discusses Characterization + Giveaway!

By: Kathleen Peacock
Release Date: 09/10/13
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 352
Mac can’t lose another friend. Even if he doesn’t want to be found.

The ripple effect caused by Mac’s best friend Amy’s murder has driven Mac’s new love, Kyle, to leave Hemlock and disappear from her life forever. But Mac knows that Kyle plans to enroll in a rehabilitation camp, where he can live with other werewolves. She refuses to accept his decision, especially since the camps are rumored to be tortuous. So she sets out in search of Kyle with a barely sober Jason—and Amy’s all-seeing ghost—in tow.

Clues lead Mac to find Kyle in a werewolf den in Colorado—but their reunion is cut short by a Tracker raid. Now Mac and Kyle are trapped inside the electric fences of Thornhill, a camp for  young werewolves. As she devises an escape plan, Mac uncovers dangerous secrets buried within the walls of Thornhill—and realizes that the risk to the people she loves is greater than ever before.

About Kathleen:
Kathleen Peacock spent her teen years crushing on authors and writing short stories about vampires. She put her writing dreams on hold while attending college, but tripped over them when office life started leaving her with an allergy to cubicles. Her debut, HEMLOCK, is coming May 8th, 2012 from Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, and will be published in the UK under the title DEADLY HEMLOCK from Simon and Schuster Children’s Books.

Guest Post:
Finding Eve

Characters usually come easy—at least to me. Plot and pacing are tricky, but characters stride through my mind like they own the place. They flop down on the sofa and put their feet up on the coffee table like old friends with bad manners. I may not know everything about them right away, but I usually find out what I need to know as it becomes important.

Until Eve.

For Thornhill, I knew I wanted a female character who would antagonize Mac, one who would reminded her of the childhood she had tried so hard to forget. An ally she didn't want but would need. I could catch glimpses of her—I knew she was short and had red hair and looked like a teenage Thora Birch—but where other characters walked right in, she always hovered on the other side of the threshold. 

I barely knew anything about her—heck, I didn't even know her name—but I knew that I liked her. I liked her a lot, and more importantly, I knew that the story needed her. I knew Mac needed her.

Through months of writing and thinking, I figured out her name and a slice of back-story and the role she had to play in the book. I managed to pin her down on the page—this tough, elusive character—and I thought getting her there would be enough.

It wasn't. 

I handed in the first draft of the book and waited. When my edit letter arrived, it contained a big, Eve-shaped problem. As much as I loved her, everyone else found her flat and undefined. They didn't understand her relationships or motivations, and she seemed like a plot device. They couldn't picture her as they read—it was like she was a photograph taken out of focus. 

And they were right.

Getting Eve on the page had been such a struggle that I hadn't stopped to question whether or not she was working once she was there.

I could have cut her. Parts of the plot would have changed, but in some ways, cutting her might have been the easier option. It would definitely have been the less scary one. I had never had to work at creating a character—I had never felt like a character was fighting me before—and I wasn't entirely sure how to flesh one out.

But I had to try. There were snippets—paragraphs and sentences—where Eve was working, and those snippets were enough to confirm that I didn't want a Thornhill without her. 

So how did I build Eve up? There are books on character development and online character profiles and quizzes, and I'm sure those are often helpful—heck, I've done the character profile thing a few times just to see how well I really knew my characters—but with Eve, I felt like there were two very specific problems with two specific solutions.

Problem One: Readers couldn't understand Eve's motivation and felt like she was a plot device.

What did Eve care about? In the first draft of the book, she only cared about one character and the debt she owed him. She kept everyone and everything else at arm's length. The problem? That character disappears a third of the way into Thornhill, taking huge chunks of Eve's motivation with him. The solution? Eve needed more than one thing—and more than one person—to care about. She needed more depth and part of that depth came from giving her deeper relationships and more complex goals. 

Problem Two: Readers couldn't picture Eve as they read.

Eve didn't have any distinctive characteristics—other than her red hair. To help combat that, I started thinking about how Eve carried herself. How did she walk into a room or sit in a chair? What was her body language like when she was angry? Defensive? Vulnerable? Did she fidget or have any nervous habits? How did she speak and what were her interactions like with others.

Weirdly enough, a misheard song lyric helped me unlock the answer. I love the song "Burn" by The Cure, but the first time I listened to it, I misheard the lyric "This trembling, adored, tousled, bird mad girl" as "This trembling dove, tousled, birdlike girl." Even now, almost twenty years later, I tend to substitute my lyric for the real one. I was listening to the song and thinking about how much it suited Eve, and I realized that I wanted her to be a "tousled, birdlike girl." I went back through every scene and looked for ways to subtly incorporate that idea. It comes out in the way Eve rocks back on her heels as though poised on the edge of flight and how she perches on surfaces. It's in how she tilts her head to the side and how she prefers to wear her hair pulled back like a crown of feathers. In the book, Eve wears a wrist cuff to hide her scars—an idea which came from the strips of leather falconers tie to the legs of their birds to tether them (though it doesn't come out in the book, Eve sees her scars as a tether to her past).

The result? A character which passed the standards of my editors and one who I hope readers will connect with.  

Giveaway Details:
For First Place (International):

"Unlock the wolf within" Thornhill necklace (engraved stainless steel pendant on a silver-plated chain
Signed copy of Thornhill
Signed swag

Runners Up (International)

3 runners up will get swag packs (stickers, bookmarks, signed bookplates)

Tour Schedule:
Week 1
9/2/2013- Book Chic- Review
9/3/2013- In the Best Worlds- Interview
9/4/2013- Fall Into Books- Guest Post
9/5/2013- Portrait of a Book- Interview
9/6/2013- The Book Life- Review
Week 2
9/9/2013- The Reader's Antidote- Guest Post
9/10/2013- Auntie Spinelli Reads- Review
9/11/2013- The Book Belles- Review
9/12/2013- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
9/13/2013- Mundie Moms- Interview


  1. Thank you for this international giveaway! I still need to read Hemlock, but I can't wait to start it, it sounds so good and I like to read about werewolves :)

  2. SO good to read about how she created Eve's personality
    Thank you for making it international :)

  3. Hemlock was pretty intriguing. I have yet to read the second book.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Loved the reviews, I really need to be a millionaire so that I can purchase every book I find so intriguing.


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