Today I give the blog over to the awesome Faith Hunter, author of the Jane Yellowrock series (and more!). Blood Trade just came out, and Faith was kind enough to tell us a little bit about Beast’s very unique “voice” in the series!
Also, we have a copy of Blood Trade and a Jane Yellowrock Swag Pack up for grabs, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!
Beast is an interesting character to write for many reasons. One, because she is a mountain lion. Yep. A mountain lion. Two, because she has two souls and one is human.
On the day they met, Jane Yellowrock—a five year old child who was a Cherokee Skinwalker—was in her bobcat form, lost, starving, and alone. Beast caught that starving bobcat stealing a meal from her deer carcass and attacked. To save her live, Jane accidently did black magic and shifted into the body of the mountain lion, trapping its soul inside with her . So was Beast born. But not her voice. That took hard work.
How did it begin?
You’re gonna laugh. But when I first started to think about the character Beast—as opposed to the concept of Beast—all I could think about were the terribly politically incorrect old black and white Tarzan shows, with snappy and concise dialogue like “Me Tarzan. You Jane.” And, “Cheeta like bananas.” And, “White hunters look for elephant graveyard. Come!” (picture me rolling my eyes)
Yet, I knew that the primitive voice and language patterns of Tarzan would fit an animal mind and animal thought patterns. So I didn’t automatically toss away the memories. Then I read the first Temple Grandin book and I was hooked on the animal brain as opposed to the human brain versions. I began to see Beast as a coherent character in her own right, with her own needs and wants and desires and her own, predator-brand of morality. I began to see her someone most certainly not human. And someone who was clearly an apex alpha predator. Beast hunts down animals to eat. Beast eats meat.
Let me give you an example. In one of the early books, Beast kills and eats a mother rabbit, then tracks down the rabbit nest and kills and eats the babies. It is not a human reaction. Some readers hated it and said so, loudly! But to a predator, it was a merciful reaction, to not leave prey babies to starve to death. To end a time of suffering. It was the kind of thing a predator would do.
Beast’s voice was even more difficult to realize than Jane Yellowrock’s voice because Beast started out as a real mountain lion. with an animal brain, and she learned the concept of language from Jane, a Cherokee child. And Jane was a traumatized five year old girl whose spirit (at the time they met) was trapped inside that mountain lion body with Beast. Talk about hard to write!
Much later, Beast/Jane shifted into human again and were discovered by park rangers. Beast then had the opportunity to hide in silence in Jane’s brain and learn about human society and the English language while Jane herself did, but without the forebrain and gray matter that Jane now had. This gave Beast’s nascent (at best) language skills a character voice that was a lot like that original, primitive Tarzan voice.
My editor also helped with Beast’s voice, pointing out times when it was hard to follow, and indicating ways for me to refine Beast’s voice into something a little easier to read. And of course as Beast develops language throughout the series, her voice must change and evolve in ways that make sense to a reader.
Aside from their voices, Beast and Jane have different mores and ethics and world views. They want different things, they like different things: different people, foods, clothes, men. They have different mating habits. Sometimes they don’t like one another very much. And because they inhabit the same body, internal conflict arises that affects all the story arcs, all the story conflicts, all the personal relationships, and the mystery of their oneness becomes its own story arc that curves through the entire series.
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of BLOOD TRADE by Faith Hunter + Jane Yellowrock Swag Pack to 1 winner
3. Giveaway is open to US addresses only
4. You must enter on or before 4/25/13
5. Giveaway items courtesy of Faith Hunter
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.