Absolutely thrilled to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Laura E James’ ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’, alongside other fabulous bloggers. Laura’s latest released was published by ChocLitUK on the 9th January and is currently sporting a whopping 42 five star reviews on Amazon (figure correct as of 12/01/17)! Before I share the guest post, here is a little bit more about the book, as well as the all important ‘to buy’ link:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – but how strong can one person be?
Griff Hendry knows what it is to be strong. After a turbulent past, he’s dedicated himself to saving lives, working as a coastguard along the breath- taking shores of Dorset. It’s Griff’s belief that everyone is worth saving – which is why he can’t forgive his father, Logan, for what he did.
Griff’s future is plunged into uncertainty when his wife, Evie, tells him she wants a separation. The revelation is a shock and leads Griff to question what Evie could possibly be hiding – and she isn’t the only one holding back. Griff’s troubled stepdaughter, Tess, also harbours a dark secret.
As the truth is uncovered, Griff is forced to accept that perhaps he’s never understood what real strength is.
Buy from Amazon
Laura James has written a post especially for TWG, so without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to hand you over to the lady herself.
Griff – Getting To Know You.
Thank you so much for inviting me to The Writing Garnet to celebrate the launch of the paperback of my third novel in the Chesil Beach Books, What Doesn’t Kill You.
I was looking through the notebook in which I’d started writing What Doesn’t Kill You, as I remembered asking my main character, Griff Hendry, a series of questions, to fix his personality and backstory in my mind. I’d not used the technique before, but it’s interesting to look back a couple of years later to see if the answers given are relevant to the fully formed Griff and whether the technique worked.
This is what I discovered then: When Griff was a boy his bedroom was decorated with wallpaper depicting the history of planes, the main colours being blues, greys and greens. He suffered a broken ankle at the age of sixteen, and the film he watch repeatedly was Top Gun. The most disgusting food he’d ever eaten was octopus – the tentacles appeared to be alive. He liked to visit the remote Scottish Highlands although he hates snow, and he’s kept awake at night worrying about his wife’s emotional distance and his step-daughter’s deep disregard for him. He loves his dog, healthy food and his job – he works for HM Coastguard. Slackers annoy him, his star sign is Aries and he’s a natural leader.
What I know now: Not once in WDKY did Griff refer to his bedroom wallpaper, Top Gun, or eating octopus tentacles. His father, Logan, was born in Scotland, so that’s probably from where Griff’s love of the Highlands stems. He does lie awake at night worrying and trying to work out how on earth he can fix his relationship with his wife, Evie. The problem is Griff has no idea why or how it fractured. He’s a man who needs a dog, and his Old English sheepdog, Ozzy, is his best friend. Since the age of sixteen, Griff wanted to work for HM Coastguard and now holds a senior position. His natural leadership serves him well. His birthday is in April, and he falls under the sign of the ram – Aries.
Although Griff’s wallpaper doesn’t crop up in the novel, and until I wrote this post, he and I were the only ones who knew about the planes, it helped me get a handle on who Griff Hendry is.
I like to know my characters’ backstories and often have reams of paper with lists and spider diagrams detailing their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes, and their fears and anxieties. From that point I work out what’s happened to them to make them the way they are. What happened to Griff that made him want to be a coastguard? What makes him so keen to save everyone? Why does he carry the weight of responsibility on his shoulders? It’s important to me that the backstories are authentic. There has to be an element of, ‘Oh, that explains why he did that,’ rather than, ‘Well, that wouldn’t happen just because he …’
I research far more information than I put on the page. It might not be essential to the plot that Griff had the history of airplanes plastered around his childhood bedroom, but it gives me an important insight into his character which allows me to develop him as an adult. For me the wallpaper and his love of the film, Top Gun, indicates he has a sense of adventure, a sense of history, that he likes military order and precision, and that, perhaps, he likes the companionship and loyalty one gains when working in a team – that friendship, dependability and honesty are important to him in all areas of his life. I hope I’ve shown those values through Griff’s words and actions.
So, back to my original thought; are Griff’s answers to the interview questions, given at the early stages of his development, relevant to his much later and fully formed character? Yes. The interview technique worked for me and it’s been interesting looking back and seeing how Griff Hendry grew as a main character. It’s certainly something I will do again with new characters.
Now, would you like to know the state of Griff’s underwear drawer?
Interesting guest post, thank you Laura!
Make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the tour!