Today we are very excited to have Selah Janel joining us during her blog tour for In the Red. Big thanks to Jitterbug PR for the hard work on the tour and for bringing us such a cool author! Selah's guest post on character inspiration is below, and definitely pick up a copy of In the Red!
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.
She has four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including the historical vampire story ‘Mooner’ and the contemporary short ‘The Other Man’. Her work has also been included in ‘The MacGuffin’, ‘The Realm Beyond’, ‘Stories for Children Magazine’, and the upcoming Wicked East Press anthology ‘Bedtime Stories for Girls’. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.
About In the Red
What kind of a rock star lives in a small town in the middle of nowhere and plays at weddings and funerals? That’s what Jeremiah Kensington is thinking after an unsuccessful bar gig one night. Then Jack Scratch comes into his life, ready to represent him and launch him to stardom. Jack can give him everything: a new band, a new name, a new life, a new look, and new boots…although they aren’t exactly new. They once belonged to The One, a rocker so legendary and so mysterious that it’s urban legend that he used black magic to gain success. But what does Jeremiah care about urban legend? And it’s probably just coincidence that the shoes make him dance better than anyone, even if it doesn’t always feel like he’s controlling his movements. It’s no big deal that he plunges into a world of excess and decadence as soon as he puts the shoes on his feet, right?
But what happens when they refuse to come off?
by Selah Janel
When I write, I may have somewhat of an idea as to where I’m going with the plot, but until I click with the characters, it doesn’t matter. Thankfully, with In the Red, there were a lot of strong characters for me to get attached to and learn about. Some of them had to grow on me, some were a lot of fun to write, and some I didn’t even see coming when I first planned to extend a short story into the book.
I knew from the start that there were going to be rock stars and everything that went with them. My main character, Jeremiah Kensington, is stuck as a small-town musician and longs to be a rock star. More than that, though, he wants to be noticed, he wants fame, he wants the control that he doesn’t have in his daily life. I could definitely identify with his anxieties and his small-town upbringing, but his selfishness astounded me to the point that I nearly ended his story before it really began. I had to put my expectations aside and realize that his reasons were very human, that that could be me caught in his problems if I let myself get bogged down by what I hadn’t done. So I took a deep breath and plunged into the world of rock n’ roll as Jeremiah took the plunge and allowed himself to be transformed into J.K. Asmodeus. As J.K. he’s in the moment and lives for his chance to strut on stage. What comes out of his mouth is sometimes offensive, other times outrageous, but that’s what it takes to be number one, right? If Jeremiah is selfish in a human, childlike way, I was a little shocked at J.K.’s outright cruelty at times. And yet, I could see why he appeals to his fans. He has the image that everyone wants to believe in. He’s the bad boy that others love to hate. And he definitely makes the most of both.
Along the way I met up with characters I never expected. His band mates were originally just referred to, and suddenly blazed to center stage. Baal, Mammon, Leviathan, and Belphegor became sources of entertainment, my answer to some of the over-the-top rock urban legends out there. They have secrets and issues of their own, and in some ways they’ve compromised themselves far more than their lead singer. These are the guys who are all too willing to teach Jeremiah how to be a proper down-and-dirty rocker, the guys who are all too eager to try everything and break hearts because they can. Admittedly I started fleshing them out beyond the stage sequences because I was curious if I could even write characters like this without it getting too out of control. I was curious if I could balance out their behavior with their real motivations and true natures. It was a fun, if exhausting, game and I’m glad I took a chance and listened to their own seedy brand of advice.
And of course a rocker has to have a manager. Jack Scratch was originally supposed to be the equivalent of the stranger/soldier in ‘The Red Shoes’ fairy tale, but he quickly outgrew the role and took on a life of his own. I knew I wanted a sort of devilish figure, but I didn’t necessarily want to make it the same ol’ same ol’. Thankfully, rock urban legend is chock full of evil imagery, so I was able to combine traits of a shady manager type figure, ultimate evil, and a strange being that might be waiting for the right person at the crossroads of folklore. He’s outrageous, though almost always in control. I like Jack and I didn’t expect to. There’s a restrained hunger in him that I admire, and he really believes that he has all the answers. He plays a mighty good game and is someone that could be found likeable and unnerving. For my first crack at a devil character, I find myself quite pleased with Mr. Jack Scratch.
The red boots, themselves, started to become more of a character and not just a plot device. The moment I decided to give them their own place in my rock folklore, the moment I crafted an urban legend around them, the story broke wide open. They’re the key to the whole thing. Whether you want to take them as a metaphor or a cursed object, I don’t mind. They’re temptation incarnate, that one thing that could give you everything you’d ever want. Everyone in the story that’s directly around Jeremiah (or J.K. as he likes to be called), is influenced by the boots. They’re hard to ignore, and even harder to deal with. They’ve had many owners in the past, including a mysterious rocker called The One, a musician so good that his music has been hidden for fear that it’s too powerful. The One was based around a few actual rock stories I’ve heard, though the more I thought about him, the more I put my own spin on things. There are shades of Hendrix, of Vince Taylor, of Ziggy Stardust, of Robert Johnson that find their way into the vague legend of The One. At the end of the day, nothing is concrete about him, and I think he’d want it that way. Or would he?
Along with these characters are others that fit into the rock n’ roll landscape: hangers-on, groupies, fans, an obsessive wife, fans, the band’s resident “pharmacist”…they all have their role to play in influencing Jeremiah’s dreams and paranoia. And yet, as I went along, I realized that I needed other characters to balance things out, especially as the story moved to the second half of the book. It wasn’t enough to have a bunch of people willing to drag Jeremiah down to his lowest point. Surely there were people who could lend him a helping hand, too. Call it my desire to see the good in people, call it the want to give everyone, even my characters, a fair shot, but there it was. And that was how I discovered that Jeremiah had a sister with her own iron will, her own past, and her own quiet secrets. She’s probably the character I like the most in terms of her personality (like everyone else, our life experiences are drastically different). In fact, I was utterly shocked by figuring out some of her backstory- she was the character that showed up out of nowhere and surprised me by telling me more and more that I was unprepared to hear. Daniella would become the one person that would be willing to see Jeremiah through his journey when no one else would. And believe me, by that he needs all the help he can get.
A lot of these characters came about because of necessity, or maybe they were always lurking there in the story, waiting to be discovered. At the end of the day, though, Jeremiah/J.K. Asmodeus is the driving force. I’ve never had a character perplex me so much and yet bring out my own feelings of author empathy. I never expected to want a character that I started out disliking to succeed. Maybe it’s because he’s humbled so badly at one point, maybe because he has his own special charisma as a rock star, or maybe I’m finally able to see that he’s got his own potential for good and bad, just like anyone else.
Whatever the case, I hope you read In the Red and grow as fond of this group as I am. I hope you cheer for Sons of Pandemonium, wonder about Jack, smile with Daniella, and pull for Jeremiah. As for the boots…I’ll let you make up your own mind about them.
Connect with Selah at the following links:
Fandom Scene Column – http://www.fandomfestblog.com/blogs/selah-janel
Facebook Author Page – http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ
Facebook Book Page – http://www.facebook.com/intherednovel
Amazon Author Page - http://www.amazon.com/Selah-Janel/e/B0074DKC9K/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1346815995&sr=1-2-ent
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/SelahJanel