Independent Characters and Other Nuisances

Happy Saturday, everyone! I am off to our annual Friends of the Library book sale this morning (500,000 books all piled up, just waiting for me! And super-cheap, too). But first, a couple items. I’ve been doing research this week on 18th century fashions, and posted some of the gorgeous images on my own blog. And I’ve finally set up my own Facebook page, so “friend” me, if I haven’t already tracked you down! And I just added a Risky Regencies page yesterday, so while you’re at it come and sign on as a Fan…

And, of course, tomorrow is the Oscars. My predictions–Actress, Winslet (she is way past due!); Actor, Penn (maybe Rourke); Supporting Actress, Cruz, the only really good thing in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, except Barcelona itself (or maybe Davis–she only had one scene in Doubt, but it was an amazing one); Supporting Actor, Ledger; Picture, Slumdog Millionaire (a good movie, IMO, but not a great one, not a Best Picture for the Ages, but still the best of this lackluster line-up). And Costumes, I’m going to guess The Duchess.

Plus Hugh Jackman is the host. I would watch for that if nothing else.

Now on to today’s RR topic! A few weeks ago, Julia Justiss guest-blogged about smugglers. I’ve never written a book featuring smugglers, though I’ve thought about it. But I do love me some anti-authority characters, both as a reader and a writer (and in real-life historical figures, too!). I’m always attracted to characters who follow their own natures and hearts, even when it has the potential to get them into trouble. Who refuse to conform, to compromise their own essential characters.

At the moment, I’m wrestling with this in my WIP. It’s the first book in my “Irish trilogy” (out from Grand Central Publishing in February 2010!), set amidst the 1798 United Irishmen uprising. In this story, it’s my heroine, Eliza, who is anti-authority–despite being a countess (and thus not really “outsider,” as Megan talked about yesterday), she believes fervently in Irish independence, and has been writing “seditious” pamphlets and aiding fugitives. Back into her life comes her girlhood sweetheart, William, the gorgeous man she never forgot. But he is a major in the British Army. He sees the injustices of life in Ireland, but believes they can only be solved from the “inside,” reforming politics–not overthrowing it, as Eliza and her friends think. Neither will budge–which will prevail? (And when will they stop being stubborn and do what I tell them???)

Any which way, the dilemmas of these two strong people have me tied up in writing knots…

Who are some of your favorite anti-authority characters? (Or types–smugglers, pirates, rebels, bluestockings?). Any Oscar predictions or favorites? And now I am off to book-shop, yay! I will let you know if I make any great finds today.

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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13 Responses to Independent Characters and Other Nuisances

  1. First of all, I am PEA GREEN with envy over your trip to the book sale!! My idea of heaven! The only thing better would be a combination book sale and shoe sale. THUNK !!!

    Some of my favorite anti-authority characters are the founding fathers. People like John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock. These men literally committed treason to bring our country into being. Had they lost the war they would have been hanged as traitors. I think people sometimes lose sight of that very real possibility.

    And Wilbur Wilberforce who fought for years and withstood the derision and outright hatred of his peers to bring about the end of slavery in the British Empire.

    William Wallace who gave everything to try and set Scotland free.

    Marie Curie whose research eventually killed her. She broke into the sacred halls of research, dominated by men for all too long.

    Elizabeth I refused to be ruled by men and did things sometimes I think just to be able to say “Oh yeah? Watch this!”

    And even Jane Austen was a rebel. She wrote what she wanted and society be damned.

  2. Diane Gaston says:

    Ohhhh, thank goodness I’m not there for the book sale. I have no self-control.
    Can’t wait to hear what you buy (because we all know you will buy some books)

    O Doggie One, I like your list of rebels. In fiction, I like my heroes to have a deep sense of integrity, but one steeped in their own values. I don’t like lawbreakers unless the hero is working against a crooked government. (but give me the right hero under the right circumstances with the right motivation and I might be persuaded to change my mind)

    Of the heroes I’ve written, I think Cyprian Sloane from A Reputable Rake is the only hero that fits that above description.

  3. Amanda, I love the idea of your WIP! It sounds so exciting and interesting to research. I love independent characters, it’s why I write about Scandalous Women. I have so many favorites from Mary Wollstonecroft to George Sand, Nellie Bly, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Victoria Woodhull. Anyone who is not afraid to assert their individuality even though it might not be accepted.

  4. janegeorge says:

    Good luck with the character wrangling! And coincidentally I signed up on Facebook just last night. I shall definitely go “friend” you.

    I like the Oscars for the dresses. I can still see Halle Berry’s bronze stunner in my mind. IMO they rarely get the winners right. Although I’m rooting for Kate Winslet. Yesterday Hugh Jackman said he was going to do the show drunk and nude. That’s worth turning the cable back on.

  5. Cara King says:

    Amanda, I think if you enter an Oscar pool, you’ll do well! πŸ™‚ Personally, I’m rooting for Frank Langella, though I think he only has an outside chance. And I’m rooting for Wall-E for screenplay! (IMHO it was the best picture of the year.)

    Oh, and my favorite anti-authority characters include Robin Hood, Han Solo, Spike (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and the Artful Dodger.


  6. In fiction, I like my heroes to have a deep sense of integrity, but one steeped in their own values. I don’t like lawbreakers unless the hero is working against a crooked government.

    Diane speaks for me here. I have to be able to imagine myself on the side of the lawbreaker, which I could easily do with the United Irishmen but not so much with most pirates. (And your WIP sounds wonderful, Amanda! I love your h/h’s conflict, because there really ISN’T an easy answer or an obvious right and wrong.)

    I also love characters who are fighting to make a place for themselves in a system that wants to exclude them–e.g. Richard Sharpe, Marcus Didius Falco. And in my WIP I’m having fun taking a character who’d normally be law-abiding to a fault and pushing him into full-on rebellion.

  7. Ammanda, it’s rare in a romantic fiction story when the hero and heroine are passionately on the opposite sides of a political debate. So I’m very much looking forward to your Irish story.

  8. Back from the sale! I spent about $50 and filled up my big wheeled suitcase and an extra box, too. πŸ™‚ Mostly non-fiction and bios, a few novels. Now I have to sort them and remember what I got!

    Jane, if HJ hosted the Oscars nekkid, I would definitely watch the ENTIRE show! πŸ™‚

  9. “I love your h/h’s conflict, because there really ISN’T an easy answer or an obvious right and wrong.”

    Susan, this is why I wanted to try this story, the intense potential for real conflict (plus getting to tackle an Irish setting! I remember visiting there with my Irish grandparents, and Edward Fitzgerald is still a hero to them). But it’s also proving to be a real challenge!! Neither of them is entirely right or wrong, and they have to find a way to stay true to themselves and still be together. I just have to keep writing and see what happens.


    Louisa, I just downloaded some pics of 18th century shoes! I agree–a book/shoe sale would be heaven πŸ™‚

  11. OOOH SHOES !! Squeeeee! You are too good to me, Amanda !!

    And I have to agree with you about Cyprian Sloane! He is one of my very favorite heroes. How funny. I was just thinking about that book today.

    If Hugh Jackman does ANYTHING nekkid I am so there. Okay, that doesn’t sound quite the way I thought it would.

    You do know the difference between “naked” and “nekkid,” right?

    Naked means you have no clothes on.

    Nekkid means you have no clothes on and you are up to something!

  12. “Snort”, Louisa! If it’s HJ, I don’t fare which it is πŸ™‚

  13. Todd says:

    Amanda, if I have kept track correctly, your Oscar pick record was 100%!! Most impressive. And I agree with you about Vicky, Christina, Barcelona–I thought it was quite disappointing. (And I love Woody Allen as a general rule.)

    Whenever I have to think of a character of a particular type, my mind goes blank. But one that I managed to come up with was Tess, the heroine of Strange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie (one of her early category books, and one of the ones that convinced me she was a genius). Raised by hippies on a commune…she reminds me of people I used to know. πŸ™‚


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