Oct 5, 2011

Posted by in Guest Posts | 27 Comments

Jennifer Estep Guest Posts plus Giveaway

While I read a book, I am always in awe of the author.  It’s not the first time I tell you guys this and it’s not the last time you’ll hear me say it.  One of the things that amazes me about authors is how they can take images from their heads and transfer them to the page, causing us to see exactly what they see.  Of course, their ability to bring me into their heads also leads me to asking many questions.  One such question is usually why?  Why did the author decide to place the story in such a setting?  Why did the author decide on that particular name for that character?  Why did the author decide to give her heroine brown hair and gray eyes?

I am super excited to have Jennifer Estep here today!  She has offered to help shed some light on my latter ‘why’, which is the ‘why’ I ask myself the most often.  Take it away Jennifer!

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Julie for having me on the blog again. Thanks so much, Julie!

So today Julie asked me to write about how I came up with the appearance of my heroine Gin Blanco and the other characters in my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series.

With Gin and the other main characters in the series, I thought about how I wanted them to look and how their appearance might tie in with things like their jobs and personalities, especially when it came to Gin, since the books are all from her first-person point of view. As the assassin the Spider, Gin needs to be able to blend in with a crowd, so I decided to give her more neutral coloring – dark brown hair and gray eyes. Plus, I think giving Gin this sort of neutral coloring makes it easier for her to alter her appearance when needed. That’s also why Gin wears jeans and long-sleeve T-shirts most of the time – so she sort of just blends in with the background.

But if Gin is designed to blend in, then Finnegan Lane, her foster brother and partner in crime, is most definitely not. Finn is quite handsome, with his expensive suits, bright green eyes, and walnut-colored hair that he spends an inordinate amount of time on.

So why did I make Finn so handsome? Well, it just fit with what I wanted his character to be – this shameless, greedy womanizer who knows exactly how attractive he is and uses it to his advantage. Plus, I think you need to make your secondary characters a little larger than life so that they are just as memorable as your heroine is. Judging from the e-mail that I get, Finn is just as popular as Gin is – if not more so.

As for the Deveraux sisters, I knew that I wanted to do two sort of opposite characters with them. So that’s why Jo-Jo, the older sister, is more of a genteel Southern lady with her pearls, pink dresses, and perfect blond hair. Meanwhile, Sophia, the younger sister, has black hair and eyes and dresses very Goth. I just thought it would be interesting to have two characters who are sisters and so close to each other be so opposite when it comes to their appearance and their attitudes. Plus, it fits in with the opposite ways that they use their Air elemental magic – Jo-Jo to heal, and Sophia to destroy evidence.

However, I don’t plan out too much what my minor characters will look like, which I think is part of being a panster when it comes to my writing. When I need to add a minor character to a scene, like a bad guy that I know Gin is going to take out in a couple of pages, I usually go with whatever pops into my head at that moment. It’s just the method that works for me, and it allows me to move the story forward – and get Gin ready to face down the next bad guy.

So there you have it – a little bit about my character descriptions and how I come up with them.

What about you guys? How much attention do you pay to a character’s description? What are some of your favorite fantasy characters and books?

Thank you so much Jennifer!  I think it makes total sense to give your assassin/heroine a more neutral appearance so she can blend in better.  So clever…

Jennifer is offering ONE copy of her newest kick ass book Spider’s Revenge to ONE commenter.  All you have to do to enter Jennifer’s giveaway is answer one of her questions in the comment section below and voila!  You’re in.  You must leave your comment by Monday October 10th 2011 11:59pm EST.  Giveaway open Canada/U.S. only.

Thanks once again Jennifer for stopping by and for offering your wonderful book to a lucky guy or gal!  You can find Jennifer pretty much everywhere.  Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Website, Goodreads.

And you can see my review of Spider’s Revenge here.  I gave it 4.5 stars.  It was GREAT!
Good luck to all who enter!

  1. Character description is important to me. It really helps me visualize the action in a book as well as making the characters more real to me.

    Some fave characters: Jon Snow and Tyrian Lassiter in Game of Thrones; Raphael, Cynthia and Duncan in the Vampires In America Series; Declan and Rose from the Edge Novels; Tess and Dante from the Midnight Breed Series. Of course Gin and Finn.

  2. As a fellow writer, description is incredibly important. I read something recently that didn’t really describe anyone, so I couldn’t picture what they looked like at all. There’s such a thing as too much description, yes, but also such a thing as too little! Today, I did a blog tour stop featuring BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu, and while I didn’t point it out, I love the fact that the main heroine Hazel is black. There aren’t enough non-white faces in novels–especially in fantasy…and especially for children!

    Right now, GRACELING is my favorite teen fantasy, which is appropriate, because she reimds me a lot of Tamora Pierce, one of my favorite teen authors. I love high fantasy. Recently, I’ve begun to read Terry Goodkind’s epic series.

    My favorite types of fantasy are the ones that weave fairy tales or mythology into the mix. This is why I was so excited to discover Mythos Academy! From there, all the other Estep series sound great, too, and I can’t wait to read them!

    Thanks for this great guest post. I loved seeing why another writer makes the decisions she does and the thought behind it!

  3. Dot — Thanks! Glad you are liking Gin and Finn. That’s a great group of characters/authors to be included with.

    Bonnie — Thanks! Glad you liked the post, and I hope you get a chance to check out my books. I liked GRACELING a lot too. I thought the book had a great heroine.

  4. Great post! Character descriptions are pretty important to me. I can usually notice when there’s a continuity error and a character’s eyes suddenly change from grey to gold or something like that. It definitely makes a reader more away of the character, lets us get to know them more. It also brings forth a sense of familiarity when they walk on the page again.

    Fave fantasy books? Damn, where to start. I recently read the Kate Daniels series so that’s still rummaging around in my head.

    Jennifer, I’m starting your series next!

  5. Anne — Thanks! Glad you liked the post, and I hope you enjoy my books too. Also, there are several free short stories for the Elemental Assassin series on the Excerpts page of my website if you (or anyone else) wants to get a feel for the books.

  6. I do notice physicial descriptions of characters, and they are important, but I don’t like for them to be too specific, so I can imagine the character in my mind. I love the Deveraux sisters, though. They crack me up, because while my sister and I aren’t quite so extreme in our differences, we are quite different just like they are.

    My favorite UF characters are Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels and Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye. Love them!

  7. Rain Maiden Jen says:

    If an author is vague on character description, then It’s hard for me to connect with the character. I want to see the character in my mind. I have no problem with visualizing Gin and her world. And the girl has a mouth on her that I love. 🙂

  8. Character’s descriptions are very important to me, in a way is a form of bonding and getting to know the character better.
    It makes a lot of sense to make Gin a more neutral and easy to forget woman and of course Finn the love-machine as an unforgettable man. I also love how Owen *swoon* is a handome man but with a broken nose, that gives him a more rougher look, making him perfect for Gin.

    My favorite characters? wow where to start… Gin of course, I fell in love with her after her first introduction: My name is Gin, and I kill people and my love for her have increased book by book. I also love Owen, he couldn’t be more perfect for Gin (or me). I read Spider’s Revenge last week and loved it.
    Other characters I love are Kate and Curran, Cat and Bones, Raphael from Guild Hunter series, Charley Davidson from Charley Davidson series, Acheron Parthenopaeus and Simi from Dark Hunter series, Arcadia Bell from Arcadia Bell series, and so many more that I’ll need hours to name them all.

    Great Post! 🙂

  9. I pay attention to the description (physical) enough to get my initial impression of the characters, and then form my own image of how they look in my head. Gin was originally blond, but then went to her natural, so in my mind as I’m reading the story, she changed, but other than that her looks pretty much have stayed the same since the first few chapters of Spider’s Bite. If a character isn’t given a real clear description, then my mind makes then looks how their attitude would have them look.

    Congrats on the new book. I can’t wait to read it 🙂

  10. RebeLovesBooks — Thanks! Glad you are enjoying the Deveraux sisters.

    Rain Maiden Jen — Thanks! Glad you are enjoying the books.

    BookaholicCat — Thanks! Glad you are enjoying the books. That’s a great group of characters/authors to be included with.

    Dea — Thanks! Hope you enjoy Spider’s Revenge.

  11. Oh well I love my heroines: Allie Beckstrom, Kate Daniels, Rachel Morgan, Mercy, Faythe Sanders to name a few. I think that description of character matters. If a heroine is written as whiny and self-conscious but the stunning good likes I might have to pass the book up because I want some flaws and depth to a character.
    This is an amazingly rich series and I cannot wait to read this latest book. Thank you for coming on and having a giveaway.
    terilhack at gmail dot com

  12. I pay attention to character descriptions, but I must say, I pay more attention to descriptions of male characters. I like fantasizing about how sexy the male characters look, haha! For the female characters, I usually think the cover models/pics depict them well. I like the Elemental Assassin covers (yay Tony Mauro!) and I think Gin really looks like the women on the covers.

    angeldream3[AT]gmail[DOT]com

  13. Barbara Elness says:

    I pay attention to the character’s description, try to picture them in my mind, and then move on to the action. Some of my favorite fantasy characters and books are Gin Blanco of course, Kevin Hearne’s Atticus O’Sullivan from his Iron Druid series, and Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock from the series of the same name.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  14. Teri — Thanks! Glad you are enjoying the series.

    Amy — Thanks! I like the covers a lot too, and I think Tony has done a really great job with them.

    Barbara — Thanks! That’s a great group of characters/authors to be included with. I’ve been meaning to try both of those series.

  15. I find I pay quite a bit of attention to character description. Sometimes so I can get the character right in my mental movie that starts when I read a book. Sometimes so I can identify with the character. One of my fav characters-Joanna Archer from Vikki Petterson’s Signs of the Zodiac series is forced to change her appearance to survive. So I think description and appearance of a character can add layers and motive and plot.

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

    mljfoland AT hotmail DOT com

  16. Female characters from books I’ve read so far are Kate Daniels and Allie Beckstrom.

    I definitely pay attention to description, it helps form the images in my mind.

  17. Mmmm Finn, yes we love Finn. =)
    I like good character descriptions, but I admit sometimes if the description doesn’t happen soon enough I form my own version in my head and then once the author gives the description my version is stuck and won’t change. So yup I have read whole books with a hero/heroine totally different from the authors view. Doesn’t bother me though =)

    Can’t wait for your newest book!!! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    eyesofblueice (at) gmail (dot) com

  18. First off, Julie you can keep me out of this giveaway since I don’t know when I’ll be able to read the first 4 books in the series to read this one. 🙂

    Jennifer, I think it makes perfect sense on why you decided on the description for your main heroine. I liked the thought of having two sisters, with Jo-Jo and Sophia, being so close yet complete opposites. It’s funny because that’s just like my sister and I only she’s the sorority girl and I’m the jeans & boots country girl but we still get along fabulous. 😀

    When it comes to character descriptions I don’t have one particular type. Just as long as I think it really goes with the Character then I can imagine the character and not have any problems. If a character looks like a punk and has crazy colored hair and piercings then the attitude has to match that. I tend to lean toward unique descriptions like violet colored eyes or very long wavy hair…and of course most of the men I read about are drop-dead handsome. 😀

  19. ML — I’ve heard a lot of good things about that series.

    Wade — The descriptions help me picture the characters too.

    Lexi — Thanks! Glad you are liking Finn’s character, and I hope you enjoy the book.

    Paperback Daughter — Thanks! Glad you liked the post. I always like to know what the characters look like too.

  20. whitewolfreads says:

    I usually pay close attention to the description given by the writer because its intersting how even though the description is the same for eveyone, eveyone pictures the character differently. Some of my favourite characters are Kate and Curran from Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniel series and Elena and Clay from Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series.

    whitewolfreads AT gmail DOT com

  21. I definitely pay attention to descriptions because I like to visualize what’s going on while I’m reading. Like so many other people, Kate and Curran are a favorite of mine.

  22. Julie Witt says:

    I love how you described why you described your characters with their different traits! It really will make the story more special for me when I read it – and I am DEFINITELY going to read it! Thanks for the terrific guest post and giveaway:)

  23. Whitewolf — That’s true. Everyone does have a slightly different “picture” in their head of the characters/action.

    Paranormal Haven — Me too.

    Julie — Thanks! Hope you enjoy the book.

  24. I pay attention to character descriptions, but I like it better when that exact description match the cover model also.

  25. I do pay attention to character descriptions, I like to visualize the characters and their surroundings in my mind while i am reading the book. Then I like to compare my “character” to others when people post or comment “who would play this character in a movie.”

    Thanks!

  26. Van — I like it when the cover model matches the character description too.

    Anne — Me too. As far as movies go, I think Jennifer Garner would make a good Gin.

  27. I do think character descriptions are important, I feel they set the tone for the rest of the book. I like it when I can picture what the author wants me to see. But if the author starts getting really detailed in their facial descriptions, like the jaw line, I get lost.
    Thank you for sharing how you put together your characters! I look forward to reading this series.
    Some of my current favorite characters are: Jeaniene Frost’s Cat and Bones, Ilona Andrew’s Kate and Curran, Stephenie Meyer’s BOOK Edward.:)

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