Making It Real.
You know that girl? The one in high school who is drop dead gorgeous and knows it, even if she doesn’t flaunt it too much? She’s the same one that can tell you exactly when a guy becomes interested in her, and she’s not afraid to approach him because she’s not guessing, she knows he’s into her. She’s often a cheerleader, but doesn’t have to be, because even without that popularity-inducing label, she’s awesome.
Yeah. I so wasn’t that girl. Not many people are.
Now I know books are supposed to be about fantasy, and I’m okay with adding that girl in sometimes (in her own way, Cass is close…or at least that’s the persona she presents to the world). The thing is I like to read about girls who were more like me too. Not so confident in our appearance or our ability to pick up guys. A little shy about even talking to a boy we like unless we turn on the snark, which is—let me tell you—the best way to get a date. (In case you missed it, that was sarcasm. Never let me be your dating guide. You can thank me for telling you that later.)
It isn’t that those girls are ignored in fiction, but they’re usually the best friend or the boyfriend’s sister or some other secondary character. I prefer to put them front and center. I’m sure some of you have read Pretty Souls and are sitting back saying, “Now, Julie, Elle’s beautiful. Don’t pretend she isn’t.” To that I say, I’m not. She is beautiful, but she’s overshadowed by the fact that her younger sister is that girl, right down to the cheerleading uniform.
Elle’s the girl who can pick out every single one of her faults, and she likes to hide everything behind attitude, baggy clothes, and studying. She’s involved in activities at school, but nothing high profile. She runs track instead of playing basketball. She’s in the color guard rather than cheerleading. She’s content to let Cass out-shine her, even though she secretly yearns to be more.
That’s the kind of girl I was, and the kind most of my friends were. Sure, I had a couple friends who were that girl and a couple who had absolutely no desire to be anything more than their own personal status quo. But most of us? Most of us fell in the in between. So that’s something I try to really infuse my characters with, that feeling of “not quite where I want to be”. Because without it, where’s the room for growth? Where’s the journey? Sure, Elle could fight demons until she’s old and gray, but if she’s still the exact same werewolf who hates her inner beast and thinks she’s the shadow to her sister’s sunlight…what’s the point?
So I want her to stretch her furry legs and grow and piece by piece reach for the person she’s destined to become rather than staying who she is. I wish the same thing for my own kids.
And I wish it for Cass too, because as most readers have figured out, with her nothing is what it seems, and she’s still got a long way to go. (In case that wasn’t a blatant enough clue, for those who’ve been wondering, book two is hers ;-) )
Kimber An here. That title is pure genius. If you all want to learn more about Julie and her stories, please visit her site Julie Particka