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Interview with Tracy Clark

What was the Purpose of Auras in The Light Key Series?

I believe that energy—the palpable wave of feeling that washes over us in the presence of others—is real. Call it mojo, spirit, vibes, or soul; it’s something that’s always fascinated me and I wanted to explore it in YA. I think it would be cool if the series gets people to be more aware of the vibes they feel around certain people and be more aware of their own energy.

I chose to use auras because it allowed Cora to use sight as another means of sensing the energy she felt. I imagine it would be very interesting if you were suddenly able to see auras around people and learn to “read” them. For Cora, it’s both a gift and a burden.

Writing Good Characters: What are your thoughts?

I hope that people think I write good characters. I certainly consider myself a “character-driven” writer. I like to get up-close, zoom in, and write stories that are more about the people in them than the world building or the plot. All are necessary, but if readers don’t like or identify with the character in some way, it’s doubtful they’ll care about the story as a whole.

So what makes for a good character?

The REAL deal – Real people are complicated, flawed, contradictory, messy and multi-dimensional. They do not always make good choices (this is especially true in YA, where the teen characters often learn from their mistakes.) I think a good character is one who is compelling in some way—whatever that looks like to each reader. They don’t have to be larger than life. They don’t have to be painfully shy. But they do have to be authentic and real.

Drive – What does your character want? What’s driving their actions and reactions? A good fictional character has a strong desire for something and it colors everything they do. Make sure you know what your character wants.

Surprise! – I love it when a character surprises themselves. Are they stronger than they thought they could be? Do they suddenly realize they harbor subconscious prejudices? Do they have any idea the ways in which they are their own worse enemy? We aren’t just reading how a character arrived from point A to B. We are interested in the journey; of taking the trip with them and seeing how the world tests them. Growth in a character’s arc is satisfying.

Diversity – This is an important ingredient in your character recipe. How can you challenge yourself to reflect the real world around you by including diverse choices when creating characters? Diversity isn’t just about race. It can be physical, spiritual, religious, mental, or situational. What makes us beautifully unique as humans will also help to make for beautifully unique characters.

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