I am over the moon to welcome Carol Lovekin to my blog today to discuss one of the characters from her latest novel, Snow Sisters.
Hello, Emma and thank you for inviting me to The Little Bookworm. I love this topic and have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to focus on a specific character from the book. I’ve chosen Allegra Pryce, the mother to my two Snow Sisters. She is an artist, and at the beginning of the story, single. She would say “abandoned” and that is her tragedy.
When did you create Allegra?
I’m not sure I created Allegra per se – not consciously at any rate. She evolved, because my two young main characters, Verity and Meredith needed a mother. At first I didn’t even think she was going to have much of a role. She was incidental if you like, until she wasn’t and began to let me in; allow me to be privy to her story.
I typically ask at this point if you wrote the book to accommodate the character or the character to accommodate the book in regards to the character we are discussing, but obviously that isn’t relevant in Allegra’s case, what about the rest of your characters? What is the process there?
My characters inhabit my stories. They’re at the heart of everything. They are the story. Before I begin writing a book I create detailed profiles of each one even assigning them birth signs. If you believe in this stuff – which I half do – it can be enormously useful in terms of establishing character traits and quirks. Allegra is a Scorpio: Jealous, resentful and obsessive; at the same time she’s passionate, exciting and magnetic.
What do you like most about her?
There is very little to like about Allegra, frankly. Let’s see – she has style and in my world that counts for a great deal! She has a huge capacity for love but it’s often conditional because she’s been hurt and finds it hard to trust. I love that before she meets the man who changes her life and her attitude to her art (for the worse), her paintings are beautiful: lyrical renderings of the ocean and the Welsh landscape. Allegra is hugely talented – I can ‘see’ these paintings and know I would want to own one.
And moving on from that, what do you like least about her?
Allegra is the supreme narcissist and displays many of the characteristics of the type. Everything is about her and nothing is ever her fault. She will never admit when she’s wrong. She is a perpetual victim and capable of almost deliberate callousness.
Did your early readers/editorial team like her to start with or did you have to change her in any way?
When my mentor, Janet Thomas, read an early draft of Snow Sisters she instigated a discussion about ‘liking’ our characters. How it’s almost imperative that we do, even the despicable ones, otherwise we will never convince our readers to care about them. It was less a matter of changing Allegra and more one of learning who she was. Exploring her backstory and discovering the reasons why she developed such a monstrous personality.
Does she have any similarities with anyone real?
Now, there’s a question! The short answer is yes. The long one is, by definition, more complex. I didn’t set out to make Allegra a narcissist. In the beginning she was simply selfish, scattered and contrary. A bit of a hippy, imaging herself a true Bohemian and avant-garde. As her character gradually emerged, I knew there was something more. I hadn’t thought too much about NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) before and it took a friend – the daughter of a narcissist – to point out what afflicted Allegra. And all at once I realised, I knew one too! Several in fact, which is why I was able to create facets of Allegra from this motley collection of people. The beauty of creating a character with NPD is they are unlikely to recognise themselves. The true narcissist is far too busy being perfect to believe such a ghastly creature could resemble them!
What are your plans for ther?
As it’s impossible for me to answer this question (you will have to read the book to understand why) and because I have an aversion to even numbers, I’m cheating and skipping one!
Would you be friends in real life?
Would I be friends with Allegra in real life? Possibly, in the beginning, before she was so irreparably damaged and became impossible. In spite of her faults I think I would have found her fascinating. And I would definitely have liked her clothes! I told you, she has style!
Thank you so much for joining me, Carol, I love this post! I love getting to know the process behind the creation of characters, it’s fascinating!
Now, if you’d like to find out more about Allegra, you can get your copy of Snow Sisters by clicking the link below and here’s the blurb …
Two sisters, their grandmother’s old house and Angharad… the girl who cannot leave.
Meredith discovers a dusty sewing box in a disused attic. Once open the box releases the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman with a horrific secret she must share. Angharad slowly reveals her story to Meredith who fails to convince her more pragmatic sister of the visitations, until Verity sees Angharad for herself on the eve of an unseasonal April snowstorm.
Forced by her flighty mother to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles to settle, still haunted by Angharad and her little red flannel hearts. This time, Verity is not sure she will be able to save her…
About the author …
© Janey Stevens
Carol Lovekin is a writer, feminist and flâneuse. She was born in Warwickshire, has Irish blood and a Welsh heart, and has lived in mid Wales for 36 years, a place whose legends and landscape inform her writing. She writes contemporary fiction in which the everyday is threaded with elements of magic. She has published short stories, reviews and two novels and has an active blog.