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Monday, June 27, 2011


Writing Challenging Characters – by Starla Kaye

I love writing and having the chance to let my imagination run free. My father was a dreamer, an inventor of some really bizarre stuff that mainly served to annoy my mother. But he taught me to see things way, way outside the box, to imagine all the possible what ifs. I remember spending time lying on the grass beside him as we looked up at the sky and tried to determine what the various passing clouds looked like. To this day, I still watch clouds and play that little game. And I spend a great deal of time overstepping those box lines and figuring out what ifs for my various characters.

Over my dozen years of publishing romances in many sub-genres I have created and worked with a large number of characters. As I write and get to know these characters, they become actual people to me. Each one has their own personality, strengths and weaknesses, backstory, relationship issues, conflicts…their own life. Some characters are harder to write than others. Some are more complex and their battles (external and internal) more difficult.

Writing in the medieval time period in Their Lady Gloriana, tested me as a writer. Research, research, research. Then coming up with a particular setting, an overall plot, and the perfect characters challenged me. Thomas, Gloriana, and Rowan were some of the most complex characters I’ve ever created. Additionally, I expanded my writing into an area I had read a lot about but never tried my hand at: a ménage a trois relationship.

Thomas had been married before, had a son he had rarely seen from a wife he hadn’t loved and who had cheated on him, and he has a male lover when his king orders him to marry Gloriana. Gloriana learns the same day that her abusive husband died, that she is being ordered to marry another equally hard warrior, who arrives with his first knight, a man she realizes Thomas is close to in many ways. Rowan has had lover after lover before finding Thomas, possibly losing Thomas, and discovering he is also drawn to Gloriana. Each of these characters was challenging to write about.

Thomas was the main hero in Their Lady Gloriana. He had never even thought about making love with another man, until circumstances changed for him and Rowan on the battlefield. Rowan is the only man who draws him and they have a special bond. Thomas is an honorable man and must do as his king has requested: take another wife that he doesn’t want and accept holding her valuable piece of land and castle. But he is torn. He must honor the marriage and find a way to live with his new wife. Yet there is Rowan, a man/lover he is not willing to give up. He didn’t expect to fall in love with Gloriana. He didn’t expect to be willing to share either of his lovers: Gloriana or Rowan.

Gloriana, too, was a character with many facets to her personality and one who often surprised me as I wrote the story. She definitely surprised her new warrior husband one night when he returned from a tryst with his lover, Rowan. The following is one of my favorite scenes that reveals a little of each of their personalities and a challenge between them.

He avoided looking directly at her and stretched out beside her, on top of the linens. “I’m fine. Just a bit sore from riding so hard today.”

He shifted again, gave another quiet moan.

This time she turned toward him. “Is there something I can do? Some salve I can apply?” The thought of touching him in any manner sent shivers through her. Yet she didn’t want him to suffer, even if he’d made her suffer.

But he was already half asleep. He mumbled, “’Tis Rowan’s fault. He rode me too hard.”

“What?” She didn’t understand. Rowan had returned much earlier and had come to check on her. He’d told her that he’d caught up with Thomas. They’d talked, he’d said. But he hadn’t looked her in the eye, either. She nibbled on the corner of her lower lip, pondering Rowan’s odd reaction. She studied Thomas more closely. Something was odd, something that niggled at her curious nature.

She lightly touched Thomas’s face to capture his attention. He looked wearily at her.

“Did you and Rowan…” Her face flamed but she pressed on, “Did you suck cock? Like I… like I saw yesterday.”

“Good God!” He sat bolt upright in bed, his eyes wide in shock. He also winced and quickly lay back down. “No, we did not ‘suck cock’ as you so delicately put it.”

But she knew there was more to what had happened between he and Rowan today. Something that had to do with his obvious discomfort. “Then what do you mean ‘he rode me too hard’?”

“God’s teeth! Did I actually say that?” He sounded distressed, worried.

She nodded. “Aye, but you were partially asleep.” She sat up and looked down at him, determined to get an answer. “What did you mean?”

He was silent for several minutes, his face contorted in deep thought. Finally he heaved a heavy sigh and met her gaze. “You already know that Rowan and I…” He struggled with what to say. “That we…”

Gloriana was getting impatient. “Aye. You have relations, of a sort. It does not bother me.” She pinned him with a prodding gaze. “Explain about this business of ‘riding you too hard.’”

He squeezed his eyes shut, muttered something, and then faced her again. “We sometimes do far more than as you witnessed.”

“Far more?” She cocked her head and studied him. She still thought about how she’d observed the two powerful men engaged in a sexual act that she’d previously found appalling. At least it had been with Geoffrey. Did Thomas mean that he, too, sucked on Rowan’s shaft? What else could two men do together?

She furrowed her brow trying to figure it out. When she couldn’t, she asked, “I cannot understand this riding matter. Nor this far more issue.” She found that she was intrigued by whatever happened intimately between Thomas and Rowan.

“I really don’t want to discuss this, Gloriana.” He tried to roll to his other side, but gave a quiet hiss as he moved.

She pulled him to his back once more, frowning at the flinch of pain that crossed his face. “I will tell no one, my lord, I promise. But I wish to understand. Especially when I see that you are in obvious discomfort.”

He clenched his jaw and appeared to gnash his teeth before he bit out, “We fuck. All right? This time he fucked me. Hard.”

She reeled in astonishment, blinking in confusion. “You mean he…” She gaped at him and then glanced toward his slowly growing cock. “You mean he put his rod inside you? But I don’t understand. How can that be?” She truly couldn’t imagine how such a thing was possible.

His patience had clearly reached an end. He rolled to his side again and pointed to his butt crack. “He drove his rod into my ass. Fast. Hard. Mercilessly.” He glanced at her over his shoulder with a sour expression. “Are you satisfied now?”

Instead of being satisfied, she was more curious, worried as well. Before he could resist, she pushed him to his stomach and gently parted his butt cheeks.

He tried to bat her hands away. “What are you doing, woman? Stop it!”

She ignored him and studied his ass. In truth, it was a very nice ass, firm. Unlike hers which was far too flabby, in her opinion. Her face heated at such thoughts. “It looks very sore, husband.”

She promptly climbed off the bed and hurried to the trunk where she kept herbs and salves.

“Now what are you doing? Come back to bed.”

She planted her hands on her hips and snapped, “You need something to soothe the pain.”

“Good God, Gloriana! You are not going to apply one of your healing salves to my ass. Forget it. I’ll be fine on the morrow.”

He got up, scooped her into his arms, and lay her on the bed. Then he stretched out on his stomach once more, growling, “Go. To. Sleep.”

“I only want to help.” She gently touched his buttocks.

“Leave my ass alone.” He pushed her hand away and planted his pillow over his bottom.

She huffed at his impossible attitude. Fine, if he wanted to suffer needlessly tonight, he could. But she’d check on his ass on the morrow. If it wasn’t better by then, she’d apply her salve no matter how much he grouched about it.

Their Lady Gloriana was released May 7th from Black Velvet Seductions.

Starla Kaye has published 19 novels, 19 novellas, and 5 anthologies with Blushing Books, Black Velvet Seductions, Decadent Publishing, Red Rose Publishing, and iUniverse.


Starla Kaye said...

I am so excited to be here today. Thanks for having me.

Penny Rader said...

Your dad sounds like an interesting guy, Starla. My dad tried his hand at inventing a few years ago. I had no idea the patent process cost so much money!

Good luck with Their Lady Gloriana. I wish you tons of sales! :D

Starla Kaye said...

Thanks, Penny, for stopping by and commenting.

heather said...

I can see how these characters would be a challenge to write about but I'm sure you did a great job. The book sounds great and I think you choose a good excerpt to post. I will def be getting this book :)

Starla Kaye said...

Thanks, Heather, for commenting. Yes, the characters were a challenge...but I loved them.
Hope you enjoy the book.