Some months ago, I was talking to Angie Frazier within some blog comments about writing longterm about characters, and writing outside of the novel in which they appear. Angie told me that she had been writing about Oscar Kildare, the hero/love interest of Everlasting, going on 10 years, and has written side stories about Oscar and Camille outside of the novel.
I LOVE hearing that I'm not the only author who does this. The characters in Magic Under Glass are relatively new and don't "exist" outside the book, but I'm excited to see books on the shelf with some of my longterm characters. But also nervous. VERY nervous. They've been private to me for so many years, it feels like sending your children to college or something...you hope they'll be okay when they leave the nest. I asked Angie if I could interview her about Oscar and Camille and her experience, so here she is.
--How did you first get the idea to write about Oscar and Camille, and how have they changed over the years?
I honestly don’t remember how Oscar and Camille came into my head. I’ve always been drawn to star-crossed love stories, so I am sure I just wanted to create one of my own. What I do remember though, was falling very quickly in love with Camille and Oscar’s story. They were so different from one another—raised differently, lived differently—and yet they fit together so well.
Over the years, Oscar has done the most changing (which I’ll talk about in response to your next question!) but Camille has also done a lot of growing up. I have read a few reviews saying Camille frustrated them with her stubbornness, but that’s actually a quality that I’d worked to layer into her character over the years. I can’t feel sorry for it! I needed to test her mettle in order to develop her and I discovered she could handle a lot more than I originally thought. In the first few drafts I remember her crying way too much, and being much too dependent on Oscar and Ira and “chance.”
I feel like Camille’s character has grown stronger as I’ve worked with her the last decade.
--Is there an aspect of Oscar you didn't get to convey within the book that you wished you could? (Maybe in the future?)
This is the first time I’ve ever talked about this online, but there is an Alter Oscar. The very first Oscar I created had a TOTALLY different history than the Oscar that is in the final version on bookshelves. For one thing, he was much older—about 30 years old. He had been married to a girl in Ireland who had died, and feeling he had nothing left in Ireland, Oscar and his brother had immigrated to Boston. Only, on the way to Boston his brother had died. Oscar arrived in Boston alone, and soon became a thug for an Irish mob boss. When he ended up killing this mob boss (for reasons that would take too long to explain) he set out across the country. He stopped in California where he met Camille and her father, and then the rest took off from there.
I really love this past Oscar. Even though I edited him to be younger and without the dark and stormy past while doing revisions with my agent, this is still the Oscar I live with in my head.
--Ooh. I understand why you had to change it, but I like that Oscar backstory a LOT... Can you give us an idea of some of their side adventures that aren't in Everlasting?
There are some that are like little vignettes and others that could be a whole book if I wanted to take the time to write them. Let’s see…one of the best ones for exploring Oscar’s dedication to Camille and her father, and Camille’s own strength, was the one that involved a mutiny at sea. Who doesn’t like a dangerous mutiny at sea? ☺ Some take place on land, back in San Francisco, and work in Camille’s fiancé, Randall, more than what I was able to write in the first book. (There is a lot of Randall in the second book!) I really like those San Francisco stories, seeing Oscar and Randall at odds and Camille trapped in the middle. Yes, I do love a dramatic love triangle!
I kind of hope one day to have the time to write a few of these “episodic” stories, even if they are just for myself.
--Sounds like good website extras... By reading your guest post at Tempting Persephone, it sounds like you started imagining these side stories as a character development exercise that got out of control (well, or just turned out really awesome). Have you, or do you plan to, use this technique for future stories, or is it sort of special to the characters in Everlasting?
I haven’t used this method for any other story yet. In my middle grade novel out next March, Suzanna Snow is the main character and I clicked and connected with her right away. I didn’t really need to explore her and her relationships this way.
However, with a YA that I wrote last year, and plan to get back to soon and hopefully sell at some point (**crosses fingers**) I can definitely see myself creating side stories for the characters. They are very complex characters with a lot of personal demons. I can tell I’m going to need to handle them with care ☺
--Good luck with your new YA. Who doesn't love characters with lots of personal demons! Do you think getting to know the characters so well and think about them in different situations made revisions easier? Or harder?
I think it definitely made it more difficult to make massive changes, especially to Oscar’s character. By the time I was doing revisions with my agent, these characters were so close to me. They felt like my babies, really, and then needing to change Oscar’s backstory so drastically felt like I was betraying his character a little! But once I settled in with his new story, I was definitely happy with it.
Camille didn’t require a whole lot of change, but she did need to come to life a little more on the page. Hands down, she has been the most difficult character to write. But I also think she’s the most rewarding character for me, too.
Awesome answers, Angie. Thanks so much!
Also, when I asked Angie if she would do this interview months ago, it was in a picture post I'd put up on Livejournal of my own characters. I promised Angie I'd draw Oscar for her, so here it is! Of course, now that I've scanned it, somehow I can see that his head is too big and the lower half of his torso seems to be missing, but I hope she enjoys it anyway. ;)
Finally, I'm doing a giveaway for my Everlasting ARC! I will warn you, all the pages with physical descriptions of Oscar are dogeared for the purpose of doing the above fan art... But if you'd like to win, just comment on this post for an entry, and for an additional entry, follow me (@jackiedolamore) and Angie (@angie_frazier) on Twitter and let me know you did in your comment. Make sure you give me a way to contact you. This giveaway is US/Canada onlyl, I'm so sorry! I've been spending too much money lately. It will end 8/7.