Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Guest post by Juliet Madison + Giveaway

Today I would like to introduce you to contemporary romance author Juliet Madison, whose latest novel Fast Forward was published two weeks ago by Escape Publishing, the digital-first imprint of Harlequin Australia. Fast Forward is like the novel version of "13 Going on 30", so read on to meet the characters  and the actors Juliet could picture playing them ;-) Also don't forget to answer Juliet's question at the end to be entered to win some Amazon gift cards ;-) 

Creating the Characters of Fast Forward
by Juliet Madison

One of the best parts of writing a novel is creating the characters. I've always said it's like having children but without the pain ;) When I came up with the idea for my novel, FAST FORWARD, I only had one character in mind initially. She was an image-obsessed young woman trying to make it big in the modelling industry. I wondered what would happen if she woke up one morning and was suddenly older - how would this affect her? What choices would she make? How would it change her view of life? And Kelli Crawford was born. In the book she wakes up on her twenty-fifth birthday to find she's jumped ahead to the future and is a fifty-year-old housewife living a life that is the opposite of the one she wanted. She has grey-streaked hair, flabby skin, wrinkles, and indigestion. Not only that, she has two grown children and is married to the now middle-aged high school nerd (more on him in a minute).

Tina Fey as an older Kelli
For this story to work I knew I had to make Kelli a fairly conceited person in the beginning, which was tricky because readers like to empathise and connect with a main character. I revised and revised the earlier chapters until I was satisfied I'd struck a balance between her conceitedness and her likeability. I didn't want her to be too conceited and didn't want her to be too likeable, because I needed her to have room to grow throughout the story and I also wanted readers to think 'Haha, sucked in!' when she wakes up and deals with the trauma of being suddenly fifty, because I think that is part of the enjoyment of the opening chapters - seeing her try to cope with this sudden change in her life. I thoroughly enjoyed writing from Kelli's point of view and discovering more about who she really was beneath all the make-up and fancy clothes (and later, beneath the wrinkle cream and support underwear ;)).

Steve Carrell as William
The next character to create was Kelli's husband in the future, William (Will) McSnelly. Yep, poor Kelli became Kelli McSnelly. Will was a nerd in high school. Kelli used to tease him and call him McSmelly, yet somehow they resolved their differences and ended up husband and wife, only Kelli has no idea how this happened. She doesn't understand why she's married to Will and not her real life boyfriend Grant, a hotshot photographer. Will, aged fifty, has matured into a successful business man who is charming, funny, and devoted to his family. Kelli doesn't recognise this at first however, she still sees the kid she knew at school. What I was trying to teach Kelli through her interaction with Will is that old piece of wisdom: 'It's what's inside that counts'.

Once I had those two characters clear in my mind, then came the children. Kelli & Will's son, Ryan, was an absolute ball to write. He's a gay punk rocker with crazy hair and multiple piercings, a gift for interior decorating, and an absolute darling. He plays an important role in Kelli's journey, and one of my favourite scenes in the book features these two together.

Kelli's daughter, Diora, is a mini-Kelli. Named after Dior, the fashion designer and perfume creator, Diora is a high-maintenance, assertive, talkative young woman who likes the finer things in life. She also inherited Will's common sense and heart of gold, so she is a good balance between the two. Her interactions with her mother throughout the book provide a lot of comic relief, as they navigate through Diora's advanced pregnancy and she asks Kelli for advice about pregnancy issues of which Kelli knows nothing about because she's skipped the last twenty-five years of her life.

Melissa McCarthy as Kasey
Kelli has always clashed with her sister, Kasey, a tomboy who missed out on the blessed genes that Kelli was endowed with. They are always arguing, and in the future, Kelli is given an opportunity to make things right with her sister. She'll also realise how important her sister is to the success and happiness in her own life. Kasey is an interesting, intelligent, independent, and determined character (and if Fast Forward was a movie I would totally cast Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids in the role!). She has been obsessed with bugs from an early age and her scientific studies lead to an interesting discovery later in the book.

Her gorgeous boyfriend
Other characters that play a role in Kelli's life are Selena - her best friend and fellow model, Grant - her gorgeous boyfriend, and Elaine - her new best friend in her fifty year old future. Elaine is a loveable, generous, loyal friend who keeps plodding along despite setbacks in her personal life. She'd do anything for Kelli, and even though Kelli has a lot to learn in the story, she just might be able to help set Elaine's life on the right course too.

What I wanted to achieve from this story and these characters was to form a network of people whose journeys intersect and impact on each other. Rather than a collection of characters there for the sake of a book, I hope readers will see them as a group of interesting characters that enrich the story and propel Kelli along her journey of discovery.

Thanks for reading, and I'd love to hear about some of your favourite characters from books. Who are some stand outs for you? And if you're a writer, what do you find fun, or difficult, about creating characters?

Leave a comment below and go into the draw for a $50 or $25 Amazon gift card! (Competition details below)

Fast Forward by Juliet Madison

Aspiring supermodel Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her 25th birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd.

Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband, and hideous support underwear forever?


Juliet Madison is a naturopath-turned-author with a background in dance, art, internet marketing and perfume sales (yes, she was one of those annoying people in department stores who spray you with perfume). Nowadays she prefers to indulge her propensity for multiple careers by living vicariously through her characters. She likes to put these characters into extraordinary situations and take them on a challenging journey to discover their true passion and inner strength, weaving in some laughs, tears, romance and sometimes a touch of magic along the way.

Living near the beach on the beautiful south coast of New South Wales, Australia, Juliet spends her days homeschooling her son and running her internet business and her nights writing fiction while doing her best to avoid housework.

Connect with Juliet online at her Website - Blog - Facebook - Twitter


GIVEAWAY RULES:

There are TWI giveaways going on and 3 prizes to be won: a $25 Amazon gift card or a $50 Amazon gift card or the runner up prize of a $25 gift card!

Giveaway #1 - Leave a comment

To go in the draw for a $50 Amazon gift card or the runner up prize of a $25 gift card, just leave a comment on this post, answer Juliet's question: I'd love to hear about some of your favourite characters from books. Who are some stand outs for you? And if you're a writer, what do you find fun, or difficult, about creating characters?

For more chances to win, comment on other blogs during Juliet’s February blog tour!


Giveaway #2 - If you have bought Fast Forward

To go in the draw for a $25 Amazon gift card, forward your purchase receipt to fastforwardbook (at) gmail (dot) com - replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 1 March 2013!

Good luck!

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