The Shadow Girl
by Jennifer Archer
Published April 9th 2013
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Sometimes I forget for an hour or two that she's with me. Sometimes I convince myself that she was only a dream. Or that I'm crazy.About the Author
For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily's movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always—but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily's secret.
But when Lily's father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily's mother have been keeping secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris . . . and Lily's own identity.
At the age of ten, Jennifer Archer made up her mind to become a writer. Then she grew up, became “sensible,” and earned a business degree with a minor in accounting instead. After years of trying to find her way through a confusing maze of debits and credits she realized that, for her, accounting was no more sensible than becoming a World Federation wrestler. So in 1993, she enrolled in a creative writing class, and five years later, sold her first novel. Since then, Jennifer has published several novels for adults, as well as numerous non-fiction works.
Official site: http://www.jenniferarcher.com/
Creating a Character’s Appearance
Jennifer Archer for The Shadow Girl Blog Tour
I want to thank Katrina for having me as a guest. I love her unique concept of combining her two passions – fashion and books – in one blog. Since the clothes a person wears have a big impact on their appearance, I thought Katrina very cleverly put those same two passions into play with the questions she posed to me about my writing: What is your process for deciding the appearance of a character? Do you come up with the plot before or after you know what the characters look like?
I’m sure it differs for every writer, but my process typically plays out in a similar way for each book I write. Using the main character, Lily, in my new novel, The Shadow Girl, as an example, I’ll take you through it.
First, I get a vague idea for a story that involves a person. This usually comes to me in the form of questions: What if a teen girl (Lily) has heard the voice of another girl (Iris) in her head since she was a child? And what if Lily has never questioned who or what Iris is, she simply accepts her as a part of herself? Then, what if something happens that makes Lily begin to suspect that there’s more to Iris than she ever dreamed possible, and if her suspicion is true it will change everything Lily has ever thought to be true about herself?
Once I had these questions in my mind for The Shadow Girl, I started playing with them, building a plot around them by trying to come up with the answers. (This part is tricky to talk about because I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers to anyone who hasn’t yet read the book!) When I finally figured out what event occurs that triggers Lily’s suspicions, what her suspicions actually are, if they are true or not, and what will change for her if they are true, then I began to think more about developing the characters’ personalities, as well as choosing a setting most suited to this plot. For instance, I had realized that Lily’s parents were hiding something –and hiding from something. Because of their secret, I believed they would choose to live in a place that’s not highly visible, a remote, somewhat off-the-charts sort of place where they could live simply and unobserved. I knew the perfect spot – the Spanish Peaks area of Colorado where my husband and I have a cabin.
Once I knew the setting, I began asking myself what sort of girl Lily might be after growing up there. Since her parents are such private people, I thought they might choose to home school her. That meant that Lily, living in the mountains in a cabin, without many neighbors, and never attending school with other kids, would spend a lot of time alone. I thought she would probably also spend a lot of time outdoors, skating on the ponds and lakes in the winter, hiking in the forests, riding an ATV on mountain trails.
With these aspects of Lily’s day-to-day life in mind, I began to get a more vivid image of her appearance – she began to come alive. I saw her wearing simple clothing, mainly because she doesn’t experience any peer pressure to dress trendy or flashy. And her clothes would be comfortable and practical enough to suit her outdoor activities. I pictured Lily wearing jeans, t-shirts and sweaters, jackets and boots, stocking hats and warm gloves when the weather is cold. I thought she would prefer to wear her hair in a little-to-no maintenance style – long, so that she could easily pull it back or braid it to get it out of her face when it’s windy or when she’s riding her four-wheeler. As for the color, for no particular reason, I saw Lily with reddish hair; that’s simply how she appeared to me. I didn’t think a girl like her would wear much make-up, if any, because she is such a sporty, outdoors person, and I thought she’d be slender, because she is very physically active.
So, that’s the bare bones basics of how I begin to envision a character. I go through a similar process with every character in a book, asking myself questions about their background, their personalities, their daily lives, and then answering those questions and deciding how such a person might look.
This Tour Stop is courtesy of Itching For Books !