Marcus Damanda talks about the hidden strength in characters

Marcus Damanda’s horror/suspense YA novel Devils in the Dark has just been published by Evernight Teen. The book is the first in a trilogy and the second title is coming very soon!

devilsinthedark2To most of the Facebook Fifteen, bullying Audrey Bales was just a game—until two deep cuts with a Swiss army knife changed everything forever. Audrey didn’t want attention anymore. After five weeks at Fairview High School, Audrey wanted to die.

The doctors did the only thing they could with her: they put her away.

But in Fairview, Virginia, the nightmare is only beginning. The chat session had not gone unobserved. The Facebook Fifteen have drawn the attention of an ancient evil that lives only to punish those who would prey upon the weak.

They are the ghosts of 1,000 dead children—1,000 suicides—and their master…

Their master likes Audrey Bales.

And as Audrey attempts to heal her mind and body, far from home, their master prepares for the revenge he will unleash upon her return.

 

Marcus is here today to discuss hidden strength in characters.

 

HIDDEN STRENGTH: ROOTING FOR FLAWED OR VULNERABLE CHARACTERS

Hi, Bridie. Thank you so much for inviting me here. It’s very exciting to talk a little about characters with you, since that’s what I fell in love with in MY SUMMER ROOMMATE. As soon as you approached me on this, I knew I wanted to hit that issue, because you paint your own characters with such mastery and care.

I’ve written about flawed and unlikely heroes since I was a teenager. Returning to public school in the eighth grade after four years of religious education left me, more or less, friendless for a year or two as I made a rough adjustment to the life the other neighborhood kids understood as normal. It was a difficult time. My dad enrolled me in karate just so I could defend myself. I fell in love with little people who did—or attempted—big things: Jerry Renault from THE CHOCOLATE WAR, Jack Sawyer from THE TALISMAN, Eowyn from THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

Reading about strong characters who accomplished great things took on the reality of a video game to me, whereas these lost, lonely souls with hidden strength called to me. They made me wish I had my own great adventure or calling. Even biblical Moses, the very voice of God in the Exodus, suffered from a speech impediment. My first vampire book featured an albino boy whose own mother forced him to dye his hair black and wear blue contact lenses—he was abhorrent to his own mother.

But it wasn’t until last year that I started writing with female protagonists. The second of these, Audrey Bales, is the lead in my current book, DEVILS IN THE DARK, and at the beginning, she’s as vulnerable as kids come: manic depressive, psychotic, suicidal—but with a heart the size of the Gulf of Mexico, and with a fiery kernel of fight that only waits to be lit.

I tried to hint at this hidden strength in a line from chapter one, even as she plans on killing herself at the behest of her online tormentors. A line she types in response to the torment, directed at the worst of her enemies, seething with defiance: “Stick around. This is for your benefit.”

And yet, I want to be clear. This book, and the trilogy as a whole, is the story of a girl who learns to live. I hope my readers will root for her. I know I did, in the writing of it.

 

Thank you, Marcus! I can’t wait to read your trilogy. It was great pleasure to host you on my blog.

Connect with Marcus on Facebook or Twitter. And be sure to add Devils in the Dark on Goodreads.

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