In an attempt to better know my characters, I am going to conduct an interview on Louis Cross, the main protagonist from my novel Scarlet Letters. He's hapless, newly-minted vampire who is still learning a lot about himself in his new skin.
I copied this from my friend Ian Healy's blog. It's a good exercise, and something everyone should attempt. No, I am probably not going to integrate Louis's favorite smells into the story, but I think having a more in-depth knowledge of Louis will help me to understand his motivations, which will in turn make for a better story. Feel free to pass along the technique or try it yourself. Let me know how it works out!
NOTE: For the people who have already read this book (there are only two of you), you will notice that there are details here not in the book, but will be integrated on the second draft. Some of these details about Louis just occurred to me. Some details may be explored more deeply in the sequel. This exercise is invaluable, folks.
1. How old are you?
32. Hard to believe. Feels like I was just playing Magic with my buddies in the library before study hall.
2. If the house burned down, what one thing would you want to take with you?
At least one of my vintage cameras. Probably my Rollicord Va, which is my favorite. I wouldn't last long outside without my sunscreen.
3. Describe your hands.
They're always dry, especially with these Minnesota winters. I used to have a lot of callouses and paper cuts from handling all of the mail, but that kind of stuff doesn't bother me so much anymore. I still have some gunk under my nails from changing out one of the Beetle's headlamps earlier.
4. Describe your nightstand, dresser, or bathroom counter. What’s on top of it? In it?
On my nightstand, I have a clock radio that's shaped like an old Motorola, a few empty Coke cans, and a book about Kirlian photography that Stan got me, but I'm having trouble staying awake long enough to read it. My bathroom counter has all of Sera's hair and makeup stuff on it. I only have a brush and toothbrush and some fancy cologne she gave me for my birthday. Don't really need deodorant so much these days. That's kinda nice.
5. What is your favorite food?
It used to be cold pizza and egg rolls. Now it's Type A warmed on the stove. Sera sometimes adds some chamomile to it that's really good. I still feel weird just saying that.
6. Describe your economic/political status.
I used to have a passing interest in politics, just because that's all the old timers around here used to talk about. But I try to avoid it these days. Especially now that I'm supposed to be living forever. I don't want to spend eternity beating my head against a wall.
7. Where do you have a scar or birthmark? Describe circumstances surrounding your scars.
I have a dimple in my chin, and that's about it now. I did have some scarring on my face and hands from the sun when I first had Vrykosis and didn't know it. That's the vampire virus, in case you weren't sure. Anyway, that's mostly cleared up now that I use the special sunscreen.
8. What is the last book you read? What did you think of it?
I mostly read technical books about a few of my hobbies, like the old-fashioned cameras, and VW repair books. I also read a book about the history of guns not too long ago when I was thinking of taking up an antique rifle hobby. I kinda dig old stuff, if you couldn't tell. I'll occasionally look up stuff in Bloodgood's--that's the big book for vampires. But there are too many footnotes and it isn't organized very well. Gives me a headache. Stan usually digests the small print for me. He says he wants to write the next edition of Bloodgood's too. That's his sort of thing. Maybe I'll read it then.
9. Do you have an embarrassing habit?
Does being shy count? I'm a little nervous around crowds. I guess I'm getting better at the whole confidence thing, thanks mostly to Sera. But I don't think I'll ever be all that outgoing.
10. Give one vivid memory of a parent or parental figure.
My parents died in a car accident when I was six, so I don't really remember them very well. I was raised by my grandma Millie, and I got some great stories about her. She's funny. Tough as nails. She could still kick my ass if she wanted to.
11. What is a dream (in sleep) you often have?
Vampires don't really dream. Before, I used to have nightmares about going over a bridge in my parents' car, which is funny because I wasn't even in that accident. It's like my brain made it up to torture me. I bet a shrink would have a field day with that one.
12. Do you have a lifelong dream or aspiration?
Sera and I talk about going over to Europe and trying to search for more people like us for the new Bloodgood Academy she wants to start up here in town. Me, I'm game for pretty much anything.
13. How do you go to sleep, and how do you wake up?
I wrap myself up tight in my blankets and fall asleep instantly. I usually wake up easily too, if I remember to have something to drink before bed. Waking up dry is worse than the worst hangover.
14. What is the last thing you wrote?
Do text messages count?
15. What grosses you out?
You're talking to a guy who drinks blood for sustenance. But I guess I'll never get used to seeing dead bodies and severed body parts.
16. Who is the person you like the least? Why?
Well, the obvious answer would be Kristoph Marx, since he's the one who gave me this virus. But if it hadn't been for that, I wouldn't have ever hooked up with Sera. I'm not one for holding grudges anyway.
17. Tell me about the last time you cried.
It's funny you should mention vampire tears ... maybe another time, though.
18. What is something you feel guilty about?
That I couldn't have saved more of the people of Chagrin Falls.
19. Describe what you do when you look in a mirror.
I don't spend much time looking in mirrors. And for the record, vampires do have reflections.
20. Describe yourself sitting in your favorite spot.
Stan's couch in front of the big screen Sundays. At least during the winter. In the summer, we move out to the front porch and shoot the breeze. He drinks beer, but now he has a BYOB policy (blood, that is) after he killed his last chicken for me.
21. Tell me about a very treasured item.
A picture of my parents and me that I carry around in my wallet. It was taken not long before they died.
22. Do you have a nervous tic or habit?
My whole body is a nervous tic.
23. Tell me about your siblings…if you have them.
None. But Stan's my brother from another mother.
24. What is your favorite sound?
25. What is your favorite smell?