And you are? Another Character Sketch.

Continuing with my character sketches for my upcoming release, One Last Heist, I thought I’d feature Toshi this week. My visual inspiration from him was actor Ian Anthony Dale. I love Toshi. He was such a fun character to play with–in many ways, he’s the person who keeps his husband, Mack, from tumbling over the edge of the cliff.

So, here’s a bit about him.

Name: Toshiro Ueda-Easton

What is he afraid of?

Losing any member of his family, whether it’s Mack, his mother, or his twin sister, Charlie.

What motivates him?

Toshi is highly motivated to ensure both his mother and sister are taken care of. He knows Charlie can take care of herself, but he’s always felt a responsiblity to both of them.

What does he like to do?

Of all his random hobbies, Toshi is gifted with languages. He speaks many, many languages. He goes out of his way to find new ones to pick up.

Where has he been?

All over the world. His cover for travel is that he’s a travel writer. It easily explains why he’s in certain locations during a heist, and provides the perfect alibi for him.

How much self-control and self-discipline does he have?

Massive amounts.

Massive.

Toshiro needs all that self-control because Mack doesn’t have much if any. Neither does anyone else in their crew aside from maybe Charlie. They all tend to be a bit impulsive.

 

Who Are You? A Character Sketch for One Last Heist.

I thought it might be fun to do character sketches of some of the people in my upcoming release, One Last Heist. Up first is Mack, who’s visual inspiration is featured in the cover (the lovely Stuart Reardon.) So, here we go.

Full Name: Gregor Tempest McKay Ueda-Easton

He was named for several family heroes–all unsavoury pirate figures from the 1800s.

Tattoos? 

Several. All pirate-related–an old ship, antique compass/map.

Best Friend?

Outside of his husband Toshiro? Jude is definitely his closest friend.

What is he afraid of?

Losing his sight.

He has an inherited degenerative disease which has slowly been stealing his vision and will eventually cause him to be at least legally blind if not fully so. He’s terrified of being unable to do what he loves most–planning and complete grand heists.

What motivates him?

The thrilling of successfully stealing. Mack particularly enjoys being able to return war plunder to their original owners (or their families.) It makes him feel like Robin Hood.

He also strives to honour the pirate legacy that goes back for generations in his family.

What does he like to do?

Short answer: His husband.

Long answer: His husband up against a wall, across a bed, over a couch, etc.

You get the idea.

Where has he been?

All over the world.

What does he lie to himself about?

That his sight isn’t being to deteriorate.


What would you like to know about Mack?

Deja Who?

There’s no reason for the subject to be spelt wrong. It just made me laugh. I am a nerd.

I think most writers probably have certain themes that follow them through their stories. Character traits, or backstories, or tropes we can’ t help using. Often times, we might not even realise we do it.

It’s a question I’ve had on my mind for a while now.

What are the ones to follow me through my writing?

Here are the ones I thought about (and maybe why):

  • Banter

  • Adoption – I’ve had a few characters who were adopted, or orphans, or foster kids. It’s probably because I’m adopted, so there’s a wealth of emotional stuff there I can explore.

 

  • Autistic Characters – I’m autistic. That one is:

  • Pets. All the pets. So many pets. From Taine’s hamster to Sherlock in After the Scrum. I’m a fan of memorable animals.
  • Absurd moments. I find absurdity humourous. (Like giving a large rugby player a hamster for a pet.)
  • Rough childhoods. A theme running through many of my stories are characters who have survived abusive or neglectful childhoods. Again, as something I had personal experience with, I think it’s important that not ALL of your characters have blissful, amazing parents. I’ve found as a reader that I cherish the books that I can relate to. When I find a character who has pulled through terrible times as a kid, I see a bit of myself.
  • Nerds. I’m quite a bit geeky, so admit to giving some of those quirks to my characters.

How about you? If you’re a writer, do you notice certain themes consistent throughout your different novels?

As a reader? Do you pick up on these sorts of things?

How to write autistics and not rely on tired stereotypes.

Despite mainstream media and their mostly dismal attempts at creating autistics. It’s rare to see examples of autistic characters who feel ‘real.’ We’re not all rain man or white, young, male savants.

We’re real people who are just as diverse as every other subset of humanity.

Many autistics like myself will tell you if you’ve met one autistic–you’ve met one autistic.

When creating neuroAtypical characters, I try to be cognizant of creating individuals, and not carbon copies of either myself or some stereotype I think non-autistics will easily recognise. I will admit many of my own experiences find their way into my stories. How could they not?

In fact, one of my favourite parts of writing my most recent release, The Lion Tamer, was including Alex and Alice. Autistic twins. They’re on different parts of the autism spectrum with their own special interests and struggles.

Neither of them is some off the charts genius.

They’re just autistic.

No massively high IQ required to be legitimate human beings who deserve to be celebrated.

So, here are a few tips on creating autistic characters, or what are some of the pieces/parts to doing so. (And please keep in mind, this is from my personal perspective.)

  1. Talk to #actuallyautistic people, not just autism parents before you start.
  2. Avoid AutismSpeaks.
  3. Stimming. Your autistic character should have a stim. We stim.
  4. Special Interests. I could write an entire post about this.  We have them. Obsess over them. Use them to calm ourselves from super stressful moments.
  5. Emotions are something many autistics struggle with. We can feel quite intensely, but we don’t often understand what we’re feeling. I’ve spent days trying to decipher an emotion before.
  6. Sensation. Many autistics suffer from hypersensitivity. I, for example, struggle with touching certain fabrics. Light affects me. Certain sounds can trigger me into a meltdown.

Just a few thoughts.

Not sure if any of it is helpful.

I might turn this into a series of posts about being autistic/writing autistic characters.

Do you include neuroAtpyical characters in your stories? Do you have characters who have anxiety, or PTSD, or are autistic? Or some other mental disability or illness?

 

 

I survived.

So, I had the brilliant idea to do  National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) once again last month.

And, I won!

I’d dance like Meryl, but I’m so damn tired. My brain melted into a pile of goo the second I’d typed out The End. December will hopefully be a quieter month, even though I have two novels to edit.  Editing is slightly easier than writing, but I still I loathe it.

My NaNoWriMo novel, One Last Heist, turned out brilliantly. It had all the twists and turns I’d hoped for, and some I never expected. It’s now in the hands of my capable betas, and I won’t worry about it for a little while.

My relationships with friends and family appear to have survived the madness. I did have to bribe my dog with many treats to forgive me for being chained to my desk. =) NaNo can be a trying adventure with words.

This year the words flowed far better than they have any other year. I’ve participated in the November madness several times. Each one feels a bit different. One Last Heist definitely had my muse’s full attention, and I didn’t necessarily struggle with my daily goals with the exception of one day early in the month.

I can’t wait to share Mack & Toshiro’s story with everyone next year.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned through NaNo is I can’ only manage it once a year. I’m never going to be an 8k word a day author.  I barely manage 800 to 1000 words on an average day. It’s more about keeping myself steadily making progress.

But once a year in November, I indulge in a bit of insanity, and some of my best work has come from it. (After the Scrum, The Caretaker, and now One Last Heist.)

And now, I can take a nap…several naps.

Did you take part in the NaNo madness? How did you do?