Well, what a six months Louise Jensen has had, her debut novel, The Sister rocked our bookish world in July 2016 and smashed all the records, selling over 450,000 copies in just six-weeks, knocked JK Rowling off the top spot when her last novel, Mysterious Beasts and Where to Find Them was released, is still loitering in the top ten of the psychological fiction charts and has now been listed as the sixth most downloaded book of 2016!!
Her second novel, The Gift, is currently at number one in the psychological fiction chart and is absolutely smashing it too!!
But what makes Louise’s books so bloody brilliant? Well, I for one think that she is an absolutely amazing story teller, Louise builds up a story in a way that it is hard to move away from, in fact, at the ripe old age of thirty-three (I know . . .) I had my first #bookhangover after reading The Sister, I found myself so immersed in the story, the characters and their lives that I couldn’t read another book for almost four days!!!! I just couldn’t get the characters out of my head and felt quite sad that they had gone from my life.
I was fascinated to discover how Louise was able to create such real characters, so I asked her, and to my delight, she told me! And, because I have such an awesome set of followers, I’m going to share with you how Louise created the main character in The Gift . . .
The Gift’s protagonist is Jenna McCauley, a 30 year old woman who, six months prior to the story starting, underwent a heart transplant.
Ever since I’d heard about cellular memory, the phenomena of cells retaining memory (if a heart is transplanted the recipient could inherit some of the donor’s memories and tastes) the subject has fascinated me, and researching the documented cases made me determined to write a novel centred around this subject. I wanted to write another book that was a blend of emotion, but would also unnerve people.
The Sister was my debut, my heart and soul novel, and I was so attached to the protagonist, Grace, that at first I tried to make Jenna a carbon copy of her, but as the story evolved Jenna really developed her own personality and is far stronger than I’d envisaged her being, perhaps, in part, because she was battling against the mould I wanted to fit her in to.
Writing Jenna, I drew upon my own experiences with my health, although I didn’t realise I was doing this at the time, and writing this novel was cathartic for me. Although I have never come close to death I had an accident in my thirties which left me with a disability and I know the bewilderment a change in health can bring, particularly at a young age, where you don’t quite know where you fit anymore. I have felt the guilt Jenna feels when she believes she is letting those around her down, by not being able to do the things she could before. It felt quite open and raw creating Jenna.
In an early version of my story Jenna was quite vulnerable, grieving almost for the person she was before surgery, the life she had lost. I had spent so many hours researching and speaking to transplant patients my manuscript was packed full of medical information and the emotions relating to adjusting to life as an organ recipient. Early readers fed back Jenna was too reflective which did slow the pace down and I took this feedback on board and made some cuts. Despite my wanting this book to be moving in parts, ultimately it is a thriller.
Jenna took on a life of her own once the first draft was completed and I completely fell in love with her determination to do what she feels is the right thing, although her black and white thinking contributes to her isolation and eventually her losing her grasp on reality. Jenna ends up not being able to trust anyone, she can’t even trust herself. Should we trust her? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Well, I certainly read the book to find out more and let me tell you, Jenna is such a fantastic character! As are all the characters in the book. Thank you so much for sharing this with me Louise, it’s been great having you here again 🙂
My favourite literary character is Jo March from Little Women. She is independent, determined and loyal to a fault, she is also one of the strongest characters I have read, fearless and not afraid to break the mould that the age in which she lived was determined to keep her in.
Who is your favourite literary character? Past or present . . . Let me know in the comments below and enjoy the rest of your day x