Characters to Fall in Love With: Unforgettable Heroes of the Literary World:

We all remember Rhett Butler, played by Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind – at least those of us over forty do. And who can forget Jamie Fraser of Outlander or Edward Cullen – not so much – of Twilight and The Darkling from that wonderful series by Leigh Bardugo, The Grisha?

As for girls – you’d have to go a long way to improve on Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games series – the Everdene (note the different spelling) of Thomas Hardy fame. Although I don’t think any us were over the moon about Bella, also from Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.

I confess to becoming very appreciative of Griet, the servant girl and the narrator in Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, unconsciously basing the character of Maidy from The Year the Swans Came on her.

It’s difficult to write a gentle character in novels – critics either love or hate them, as I learned to my cost. The character of the narrator, Magrit (Maidy), came in for both praise and criticism; the doubters disliking her steadfast and ‘non-pushy’ nature. In my defence, the main character was Ruth, a beautiful but selfish and self-centured young woman and it is her actions that precipitate the tragic happenings of that take place in this novel.

I know today, the fashion is for strong women who dominate the action and for some young people, anything else is not acceptable BUT ... the very fact that you dislike them speak volumes for the author’s ability to write. Not preaching here, but authors usually have a good reason for creating a character in a certain way and to make that way convincing means they have succeeded. When readers told me they grew actively to dislike Ruth, I was thrilled. Nevertheless, I always feel sympathy for her - if you read the novel you will discover where I am coming from.

I'm still stuck for a title for the sequel of The Year the Swans Came yet but I can assure you Maidy and Ruth are in it – and then we will see. Which brings me neatly back to guys and to Zande:

I didn’t need to look round. For the past two nights Zande’s voice had echoed through my dreams; only now its dissonant base tones had been replaced by a light-hearted dance step.

‘It’s Magrit, isn’t it? How extraordinary! Great minds do think alike, after all.’

Obviously with years and years of both reading and writing behind me, both books I have read and books I have written must influence the creation of my characters. However, I have never before created a character as powerful as Zande. Again, read the novel and decide for yourself if he is the hero? If not, is he the anti-hero? Or is Jaan the heror after all? Unfortunately, yu will have to wait for the next book to decide. Nevertheless, Zande powers his way through The Year the Swans Came and with overweening vanity demands I tell his story in the trilogy, Children of Zeus, starting with Book one, The Click of a Pebble. And yes, I do tell his story, right from age four, and the massacre of the village where he is living. 

There is one other character who I believe equally unforgettable: Yƶst. He takes centre stage in The Click of the Pebble while Zande is growing up. Equally as stubborn as Zande, although in a very different way, he eased his way into  my heart and he did my novel, commandeering its pages, both in Books 1 and 2.

This is what the Net Gallery reviewer says: 

Joscelyn S Reviewer on Net Gallery. This was a great coming of age fantasy story. I really enjoyed seeing these young characters struggle to survive in the aftermath of the massacre that leaves them only each other to depend on. Their journey drew me in and had me reading this entire book in one sitting, I'm looking forward to reading more books set in this fascinating world.

Read them both and then get in touch via my website and let me know your opinion of these characters and whether or not you agree with me. Also who is your favourite character? That is very important. Book 2 in the trilogy, Ocean of White Wings will be published in December.

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About Barbara Spencer: 

Miss World. An award-winning children’s author, and no stranger to schools and Waterstones, since 2015 Barbara has been writing historical fantasy for an adult audience; her first novel The Year the Swans Came was published in 2018.

The Year the Swans Came: Buy My Book Here
The Click of a Pebble: Buy my book at Amazon