ariel the first guardian sydney scrogham

Lions, Tigers, Characters–Oh My! Interview 101

Serial killers, overwhelmed moms, drunk teenagers, nerdy journalists… Whatever the flavor of your muse, you’ve got to get to know them!  Tonight I interviewed an old (yet new for me now) muse, and I am excited to share her with you.  This is an example of what it’s like to interview a character.  This is a great way to get into the mind of the person who’s going to drive your story.  I’d like to introduce to you Ariel Harte.  She’ll take the stage, and I’ll appear in the quotes.

Who are you?

Who does it look like I am?

That’s not a very helpful answer.  I can’t get to know you if you won’t let me in.  Let’s try this again.  Who are you?

I am whoever you say that I am.

That’s not good enough.

Okay, fine!  I lie in the shadows.  I want to be invisible so that no one notices me.

Why don’t you want to stand out?

I get punished.

Can you tell me more about that?  I promise you won’t be punished this time.  Just let loose.

I’ve been punished  ever since I was a little girl.  I was only four, but I remember.  I was trying to take my sister’s lollipop, and it got stuck in her hair.  When I yanked it, she screamed and cried, and Dad came after me.  His feet pounded like hammers on the kitchen floor behind me, and I ran.  When he caught me, he…  I guess that was the moment I wanted to disappear.

Interesting.  I can tell that’s heavy for you, so let’s jump topics for a second.  What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Mmm music.  The expression of my soul.  It surges in me, matches the tone.  It understands me, and that’s why I like it so much.  Especially “Lie To Me” by 12 Stones.  And “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down.  I don’t know… I guess there’s a part of me that identifies with being the beaten-down hero in disguise.

Oh really?  Why’s that?

My sister, the one I told you about, she’s two years older than me.  One night I remember so clearly, I spilled grape juice on my red dress and it stained.  I panicked instantly because Dad is all about appearance.  He’s a lawyer, so he’s always dressing up in suits with his black hair slicked back.  How did I get my blonde hair when his is so black?  Anyway… My sister, Annie, she saw me panic, and threw some napkins at me so I could cover up my stained skirts by the time Dad came back from the bathroom.  But he saw because the juice stained through the napkins.  He was reaching for my wrist when Annie shouted, “No!  It was an accident.  My cup spilled.”  And that night, Dad punished her instead.  I was so little, I didn’t know what to do, and I could hear every scream.  I twisted my stains around in my hands.  When I saw Annie’s face after… I’ve wanted to beat the snot out of pervs ever since.  That reminds me—I also like “Hero” by Nickelback, and the same thing by Skillet.

Underneath the “I need to be a hero soundtrack,” what would I hear playing?

Hm… I’m not sure.  I’d have to listen.  I guess… I’m waiting for a hero.  Someone I can let my guard down with.  I’ve had to keep my walls so high to protect us from Dad.  I promised myself I’d never let Annie get hurt again.  “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence, and “I Know” by Seventh Day Slumber.

Sounds like you seem to prefer rock music.

That’s right!  I’m raw inside, just like that music.

What happened to make you so raw inside?

I don’t want to talk about it.  That’s my business.

What would it take to get you to talk about it?

*swallow*… I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to.

Let’s talk about something else, then.  I’ve found that the best way to get to really know someone is to hear about their romantic relationships.  Tell me how that’s been for you.

Heh, well.  It’s been. I don’t like to talk about that, either.  That’s still really sore.

You’re a very guarded person, aren’t you?  Would you choose to stay that way?

Right now, yes.  If I choose to come out, I’ll get hurt.

But if you want to get what you want, you’ll have to come out.  You know that, right?

That’s why I don’t tell anyone what I want.  I’ve buried that for so long that I’m not even sure anymore.

So you’re essentially a doormat.

Hell no!  Walk all over me and I bite back.

But that’s not safe, is it?

Safer to bite first than to wait to be bitten.

Touché.  Let’s talk about food.  You like food?

Sort of.  I love it and I hate it.  I wouldn’t say I’m fat, but I’m not thin, either.  I got really overweight as a teenager.  Food became my comfort.  If I’m not careful, it takes over me.  I’d prefer to not think about food.  I wish it didn’t exist.  I wish I never had to eat, but I do, and I hate that.

There seem to be a lot of things that make you clam up.  What gets you excited?

*long pause*… Revenge.  Paying back what someone’s done to me.


I know.  It sounds terrible, doesn’t it?  Maybe a better word would be justice.  The line between the two is so blurred it’s hard for me to see sometimes.

What do you want most right now?

I want to be left alone.  I’ve been beaten around by so many people, and I’m really tired.  I can picture myself on an island in the sun with a hammock between two palm trees.  I’d even have one of those coconut drinks—but not the coconut bra.  That’s never really been my thing.  I’d pull up my shirt to my waist, though, so my white belly can see the sun.  But not enough to get burned and tanned.  I don’t want to be like those sexy models in any way.  I’d rather be butt ugly.

Do you think of yourself as beautiful?


How do you think of yourself?

Like a lazy bump in the wall that never gets anything done.  But that’s okay, because I’ve stopped trying to do anything with my life.  I’m waiting for something that never comes.  Prison can do that, you know.  Same old same old.  There’s nothing to do.  Nothing worth my time.  I’m just waiting to die.  But I don’t regret what I’ve done.  Someone had to make it stop, and Annie wasn’t strong enough.  I will make something happen if I see someone getting hurt.

Very interesting.  What do you think you’d be like if your childhood hadn’t been so traumatic?

I’d probably be a teacher.  But I turned into a bully.

Why would you be a teacher?

I actually do care about helping people.  I just don’t always have the patience for it.  But I’m very organized.  I like lists and labels, and for my food not to touch.

Thanks.  This has been very helpful letting me get to know you.  You’re going to be a great muse.

[Ariel exits]

Do you feel like there were just two people talking back and forth?  I sure do!  (There’s only one me in my brain, I promise.  Writers, you know what I’m talking about!  I am not my character.  Rather, my character asks my questions and finds me answers.)

I had no backstory for Ariel while I was writing this.  I made it all up on the fly, and it’s given me something very interesting to work with.  Ariel is almost a little darker than I wanted, but I’m going to let her continue being her flawed self for the beginning of the story.  Here in a nutshell, I’ve gathered some of Ariel:

  1. She’d have a playlist already, and those songs alone give her a certain feel.
  2. She’s been abused at a young age, and so has her sister.
  3. She’s probably been abused in her romantic relationships, too.
  4. She doesn’t think she’s attractive and she likes order.
  5. She identifies with the underdog.

Now, let me do a brief Google search for an image that might match what I’m seeing Ariel as right now…  Search: “Blonde girl in prison.”  The FIRST picture that comes up, no joke.

blonde girl in prison

I scrolled down a little bit, and the next picture immediately caught my eye.  Can’t you also see Ariel Harte like this?

madeleine mccann
Madeleine McCann

And here’s what I see she will be.  The true face of Ariel Harte (in my mind) matches this (she even has green eyes!):

ariel harte

Have any of you ever tried interviewing your muses?  How do you get to know them?  This is my first time doing a solid interview, and I loved it.  I’m about to go try it for my male protagonist’s role.  How about you?

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