Yesterday you got to read Deb Joanne’s question, so here’s the one I posed to Molly:
Molly, every character in THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA is richly-drawn and diverse and comes across so authentically–what an amazing cast! I know when I write–and this seems to happen to me in every book!–that there is always one character who I struggle to connect with in an authentic way for one reason or another, whether it’s because they hit too close to home or seem to far outside my experience. Was there a character in THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA that you felt eluded you for a time as you were fleshing her or him out? And what did you do to get to the core of that character?
And here is Molly’s answer:
Thanks Erika! I definitely struggled with Jake, because my earliest readers hated him so, so much, and in my mind he was always a sympathetic (flawed, of course, but not evil!) character. Plus, if he was pure evil, Paige’s choice of whether to stay with her old friends or go with her new friends was much less interesting — “Hmm, should I date the dude who’s kind of nerdy but sexy, or the dude who’s PURE EVIL?” So with each draft, I tried to color him in a little better, and make his choices and motivations seem a little less cut and dry. Is he cheating on Paige? Is he actually a good guy who’s torn between an old friend and a girlfriend?
I also always saw Jake as being Paige’s foil, because they’re both in similar situations — both trying to follow paths their parents have set for them, both struggling to figure out who they are within the rigid constraints and expectations of their friends and families — so if Jake wasn’t at least a little sympathetic, I worried that Paige wouldn’t be either.
I remember at one of the moments that I was really struggling with Jake, I actually wrote a diary in his voice, describing getting ready to go out with Paige for the night, talking about his expectations and fears and insecurities. I was riding the Western Bus in Chicago, writing longhand in my own journal, and by the time I got off the bus I felt like I had a much better understand of where Jake was and what he was thinking and feeling.
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Molly, I love that you wrote a diary in his voice as a way to get to who he was. As is so often the case with complicated characters, finding the pieces of them that make them relatable–even in small ways–can make all the difference to the reader, which you did so well. Frankly, there’s so much about THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA that we can all relate to, no matter what age we are, which is why I found myself instantly–and thoroughly!–drawn in to Paige and her friends’ turned-upside-down world.
And don’t forget! Deb Molly will be giving away a signed copy of THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA to one lucky commenter this week so be sure to leave your thoughts any day this week to be entered to win!
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