Meet My Main Character Blog Tour

Meet My Main Character Blog Tour

Last week the amazing Weaver Grace was kind enough to ask me to participate in an interview where authors of works-in-progress discuss the main character of their historical fiction. While the book I’m writing isn’t strictly historical fiction per se (it’s a fantasy based on a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood), it’s based on 16th – 18th century Afro-Brazilian culture and late medieval English nunneries.

I’ve been researching extensively, reading scholarly works such as Eileen Power’s eye-opening ‪Medieval English Nunneries:‪ C.1275 to 1535 (available for free on Kindle), which dispels any notions of quiet-living, pious women. It must be remembered that many women of this period who ended up in convents were not necessarily there because they felt called to serve God, but often because they had no choice. Late Medieval English nunneries were sometimes used as dumping grounds for unmarriageable or unwanted females of the nobility and the upper class (untitled, rich merchants and such).

Porcelana (Thando Hopa)

This explains why many English convents of the time were cited by their presiding Bishop for excessively luxurious clothing, keeping small pets, lavish food (when available), dancing, gossiping, visiting taverns, running off with men, and having children. In fact, one rather infamous French abbess, Angélique d’Estreés had not one, not two, not even four, but twelve children; each brought up according to the rank of their father.

I’ve also being reading about the history of colonial Brazil, not easy material, that includes the dehumanizing conditions of slavery, which wasn’t abolished there until 1888.

Young Porcelana (Photo of Young Afro-Brazilian Girl by Gustavo Lacerda)

There is a region in Brazil, Patrocínio, Minas Gerais, , a rural town located in the western region of the state known as the Triângulo Mineiro, where a regional Afro-Brazilian dialect, Calunga, is spoken. Apparently, Calunga was “the speech … utilized by Africans and Afro-descendants so that they would not be understood by people with authority over them – a common theme especially articulated by older Calunga speakers who are more familiar with the era of slavery in Brazil.” (Byrd, 2012)

I hope to incorporate some of this unique language into my story as well as aspects of Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion that is a blend of traditional Yoruba, Fon, and Bantu beliefs as well as some Catholicism. All in all, it’s fascinating researching all of these subjects.

Serra da Mantiqueira, Brazil

Serra da Mantiqueira, Brazil

Incidentally, in Brazil, people don’t refer to themselves as Afro-Brazilian. That’s an American thing. If a person appears to be black they are referred to as preto; if they look multiracial they are referred to as pardo. As of 2010, over 50% of the Brazilian population identified themselves as either preto or pardo.

So, to finally start answering the questions:

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Porcelana is my main character and she is fictional. She is an Afro-Brazilian albino who’s been hand-picked to train to become one of the warrior/nuns of Convento do Pano Vermelho (The Convent of the Red Cloth), the protectors of her town who hunt the savage wolves said to roam freely in the surrounding forests. Porcelana is the Portuguese word for porcelain.

Young Porcelana (Photo of Young Afro-Brazilian Girl by Gustavo Lacerda)

My inspiration images for the young Porcelana are from the amazing Brazilian photographer Gustavo Lacerda who’s website you can visit by clicking here.

For the teenaged Porcelana my inspiration is the stunningly beautiful Thando Hopa, who’s not only an African model but also a lawyer and advocate for albinos. I chose her not only because she’s an albino but also because she is able to embody both the softness and strength of my protagonist.

2. When and where is the story set?

The town where Porcelana lives is situated in an isolated valley high on a mountain where the lone road was destroyed centuries ago, cutting them off from the rest of the world. This town exists in a subtropical highland climate similar to that which is found in the mountainous regions in Brazil.

The time frame is something of an amalgamation of the 15th and 16th centuries.

3. What should we know about him/her?

Porcelana is an outsider in her community because of her albinism, although she is very loved by her family. Some of her attributes make me think of Weaver Grace: she is a gentle person, observant, kind, and quick to come to the aid of those she feels are unjustly treated.

Iona Nunnery, Great Britain

Iona Nunnery, Great Britain

Some of her other attributes (not saying these are also like Weaver Grace but she’s free to claim any she likes) is her love of being physical: training, hunting, riding, running, swordplay, and archery. Her flaws are her tendency to keep things to herself, even her intense emotions, and her reluctance to ask others for help. She also has a very strict sense of fairness that can border on self-righteousness as well as being a bit judgmental.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Like all the other girls chosen to go live and train at the Convento do Pano Vermelho, Porcelana had no real choice in the matter. Allowing herself to be selected provides her family with gold and the chance to move out of the favela (the slum area of the town).

(Porcelana) Thando Hopa

While Porcelana comes to love living at the convent she is at odds with the abbess, who has instantly taken a deep dislike to her. It isn’t until her first hunt that Porcelana learns that the wolves they hunt are actually Lupines (humans who can change to wolves and back) when she wounds what she thinks is a wolf. Separated from her hunting group she stumbles upon the young Lupine girl that she’s seriously injured, Isidora, in her human form, just as Isidora’s older sister, Cátia, also locates her.

Horrified that she has harmed a person and not merely a wolf Porcelana agrees to hide Isidora and Cátia under the convent in the catacombs until Isidora is healed enough to return back to the Lupine camp.

A friendship and eventually a romance begin between Porcelana and Cátia as they seek to discover the truth behind the founding of the convent and its war with the Lupines.

Cátia (Thais Oliveira)

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

As Porcelana discovers she is surrounded by lies and treachery she becomes determined to expose them even as she tries to understand why she feels the way she does about Cátia, wondering if they can ever have any kind of future together.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title of this novel is Crimson and you can read a bit more about by clicking here.

Santa Catarina, Brazil

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

That’s a lovely question and I wish I had some sort of firm answer. First, I have to finish researching for it, then, of course, write it. Then I need to procure an agent (that’s right, literary agents, I am on the market. Meow!), who then will want me to edit it, and then we would have to find a publisher, who will want more edits, and then a year after that, it would finally get published, so I’m thinking around the time my oldest goes off to college. Certainly by the time my second goes off, right? Right? 😉

Thanks to Weaver Grace for asking me to participate. I really appreciate it!  I would recommend other writers but I don’t think I know of any that are specifically writing historical fiction other than my former husband, Arif.  He’s actually written what sounds like a really intriguing novel (and I’d love to read it -hint, hint), already has an agent, and is in the processing of editing it with her.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a blog, otherwise I would have asked him to participate as well.  Hopefully, he’ll get a blog going soon (again -hint, hint) 🙂

Porcelana (Thando Hopa)

 

 

14 thoughts on “Meet My Main Character Blog Tour

    • I’m doing my best, thanks! How’s the writing going? Hopefully well. Now that your daughter’s out of school will you be spending more time together writing?

      🙂

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  1. I hope so. She’s actually working on her own book, now, which I think is amazing. Meanwhile we just have 2 chapters left to write to finish our manuscript. You can catch up on our adventure on my blog.

    Since you seem to be back to writing again, may I suggest you check out http://thewriteditor.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/novel-critique-partner-and-writing-friend-meetup/. This is a free online month-long novel workshop for people with existing WIP. Hope to see you there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey John,

      So sorry, meant to reply to you sooner, but I’ve been having some breakthrough migraines. Anyway, thanks for letting me know about the workshop. I will do my best to check it out but unfortunately I have to take each day as it comes with no real long term plans due to the headaches and nausea (thanks baby #4!).

      I do want to see how your book is coming along. The little I’ve read so far was great, and I would also like to say how impressed I am that you’re so close to finishing. Lots of people talk about writing a book, many even attempt it, but few actually finish one (let alone try to get an agent, get it published, etc). You’re so close to the first finish line and I’m rooting for you!

      I’ll be checking in at your blog soon.

      🙂

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  2. !!! I had my fingers crossed for you, and only invited you for the tour so that you had the option to join if you felt up to it, and with the hope that the invitation would rouse your good spirits. I am stunned that you are here! And you put together an amazing interview! Thank you for all that you put into it, including the generous kindness that you show your nominator. I hope that this indicates how WELL you are feeling 🙂

    “Porcelana,,, is at odds with the abbess, who has instantly taken a deep dislike to her.” At first, I didn’t like this part. It sounded too simplistic, like an overused fairy tale. I wanted to defend the abbess’s position. However, when I continued to read about their wolves, I understood the significance. Of course the abbess recognizes Porcelana as one who is likely to be “quick to come to the aid of those she feels are unjustly treated,” and that threatens her and the abbey. That helps me understand some people’s reactions to me.

    Thank you for pulling the curtain back, and revealing more about what interests you. Thank you for intriguing me to learn about cultures that I hadn’t heard of. I trust your open perspective and perception. I feel the life force of Porcelana’s world, and look forward to immersing myself in it.

    [Have you considered inviting Arif to post his interview on your blog, as I did for my friend Ronda?]

    Liked by 2 people

    • Grace, your gentle and friendly prodding did have a profound effect on me, and did inspire me to participate. It helped that I’ve been feeling better overall, but after doing almost nothing for two months there’s a lot that needs to get done in my life. I won’t even mention what the toilets used to look like. No one needs that image in their head!

      I was really glad for an opportunity to start making my way back into blogging and I really appreciate you providing one for me. I’ve missed you and everyone here at WP and blogging as well. It does tremendous wonders for my mood and outlook!

      Thanks for liking my post and your honest assessment (more valuable than gold, truly). I don’t like simplistic villains, either; in fact, they tend to really irritate me. There’s much more to the abbess than meets the eye, but in a way, her self-righteousness is the extreme manifestation of Porcelana’s own strict moral code. It’s often easy to vilify those we secretly fear we’re like, if that makes any sense.

      I think I’m going to give up on making sense, since the babies are sure to wake any moment (they must be growing because they’ve been asleep for almost three hours. It’s like manna from Heaven!) and just say thank you for thinking of me. It really means a lot.

      🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Porcelana has won my heart. I can’t wait for the book. In truth, I smell a series, and if there is one thing I love it is a good series! 🙂 I am sure our dear life weaver Grace will keep us all in the loop and ready to support and encourage you in making this incredible project a reality.

    Grace knows where to find me… meanwhile….
    Write! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Leni,

      Thank you for following me and for liking my post! Any friend of Grace and Stephanie’s is a friend of mine. I meandered about your blog a bit (I have 3 kids, am pregnant with 4th, so sometimes meandering is all I accomplish) and found it very intriguing. I have no idea what Moocable is, but that’s probably one of the most fun words I’ve come across in a long, long time. I like your concept of making people more aware that we’re all online learners and hope to sit down sometime soon and really peruse your blog and figure it all out.

      And I’m really glad that you like Porcelana. I hope someday she will actually exist in book form and not just in my intentions. I hope to see more of you around as well. Thanks again!

      -Jessica

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you Jessica for taking the time to go over and look at my allthingsmoocable.wordpress.com site. I am sorry to say that I have neglected it for far too long. I suppose that like you, research has taken up enormous chunks of time. When you throw family into the mix… there are simply not enough hours in a day.

        This is one of the reasons I was so very impressed with your character planning as via Grace’s “Meet my Main Character Blog Tour at http://weavergrace.com/ . The depth of character development is truly impressive. I am very glad that we have had a chance to meet and I look forward to following your journey!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This sounds like the type of book I would buy. I use my library extensively. I haven’t moved on to reading on a screen yet, though I have purchased some epub books for my laptop. Good luck with the writing and publishing. Your lead character is wonderful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Christine,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and comment! It is greatly appreciated. Anyone who has enough books to refer to them as a library sounds like good people to me. My husband and I have several large bookshelves and are still running out of room.

      Generally, if I can I will buy books for research on my Kindle (some are even free!) and buy physical copies for the books I really want to savor. Books can be quite an addiction, can’t they?

      Thanks again for stopping by and your kind words. Hope to see more of you in the blogosphere!

      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In this case, “my library” refers to my local lending library, but I do have lots and lots … and lots … of books, enough to make my own library if I unstacked them and put them all in the same room! 🙂 Like you, if I really love a book I have to my own copy, even a whole series. 🙂

    Like

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