YA Bound Tours Presents: Eight Days on Planet Earth by Author Cat Jordan Guest Post on Character Inspiration
by Cat Jordan
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Release date: November 7th 2017
A heart-wrenching romance full of twists that are sure to bring tears to readers’ eyes, from Cat Jordan, author of The Leaving Season.
How long does it take to travel twenty light years to Earth?
How long does it take to fall in love?
To the universe, eight days is a mere blip, but to Matty Jones, it may be just enough time to change his life.
On the hot summer day Matty’s dad leaves for good, a strange girl suddenly appears in the empty field next to the Jones farm—the very field in rural Pennsylvania where a spaceship supposedly landed fifty years ago. She is uniquely beautiful, sweet, and smart, and she tells Matty she’s waiting for herspaceship to pick her up and return her to her home planet. Of course she is.
Matty has heard a million impossible UFO stories for each of his seventeen years: the conspiracy theories, the wild rumors, the crazy belief in life beyond the stars. When he was a kid, he and his dad searched the skies and studied the constellations. But all of that is behind him. Dad’s gone—but now there’s Priya. She must be crazy…right?
As Matty unravels the mystery of the girl in the field, he realizes there is far more to her than he first imagined. And if he can learn to believe in what he can’t see: the universe, aliens…love…then maybe the impossible is possible, after all.
A Guest Post by Cat Jordan
Like most writers will tell you, there’s a part of me in every character I create. There are two reasons for this that I can see:
1. It results in honest characterization.
2. It’s easy.
(Well, easier. More on that later.)
Obviously the characters I create are not exactly mirrors of me. Thank goodness for that because my books would be incredibly boring. But there are definitely bits and pieces of me in all of them.
When I wrote The Leaving Season, the challenge was finding the parts of Middie Daniels that I’d either forgotten about or deliberately ignored. For instance, like Middie, I thought my first boyfriend would be the man I married and had a family with. He was a year older than me, like Middie’s boyfriend Nate was, and he was also a sweet, nice guy with a lovely family. He played basketball like Nate did and had aspirations of being in the medical field. We were going to be together forever! But then…you know, he wasn’t there and, you know, other guys were. And my friends reminded me that I was young and shouldn’t settle until I’d met other guys (just to prove how awesome my boyfriend really was!) and the next thing I knew, I was attending the Senior Prom with someone else.
Some of the things Middie did were absolutely based on things I did too – and many of them I’m not proud of – so it made her character very authentic. Her emotional arc was true and I knew it was true because I had lived much of it.
When it came time to write the character of Matty Jones in Eight Days on Planet Earth, the challenge was discovering what was similar in my life to that of Matty, who was a seventeen year old guy. What was in my world as a teenager that would be the same as Matty’s? Well, first of all, we aren’t that different. Guys and girls? We might react to things differently but we have the same emotions and desires and longings. We want to love and be loved. We want to trust and be trusted. We want to explore and experience all that we can in our short times on this planet.
With that in mind, it was much easier to become Matty and to give his character some of the traits I have myself. I knew what it was like to be in love with a friend who saw you only as a friend. I knew what it was like to live in rural Pennsylvania in a farmhouse and with a dog. I knew what it was like to share an interest in Star Trek with your father. I knew what it was like to be disappointed in someone you trusted and what it felt like to lose faith in things you once believed – and maybe wanted to believe in again.
So getting back to the “ease” of making characters like myself. I do a lot of research before I start writing (setting, time of year, weather, landmarks, etc.) so that I don’t get stuck having to look something up. If I have to pause and do an extensive Google search or find an expert to ask, I will quickly fall down the rabbit hole and dig up so much information on a thing that I couldn’t possibly use it all!
Furthermore, the details of the characters’ lives, as well as what they look like, what foods they like, where they spend their time, and so on, need to be quickly referenced or else they will change from chapter to chapter. (You’ve all read books where a character’s eyes are green and then brown and then green again…a detail that should be caught but sometimes isn’t. Annoying!)
If you love pizza, it’s pretty easy to make your character love pizza too. Do you have a dog? Give them a dog. Voila! Instant characterization!
I’m being flippant but those are just examples. This isn’t to say that I believe everything my characters do or that I like the foods or celebrities or music that they do (again, those would be boring characters!) but any common ground I can find with myself will make the writing flow more smoothly.
About the AuthorWhen I was a teenager, the very first book I ever tried to write was pretentious and stilted and set in a future where there was no paper. Obviously, I fancied myself another Ray Bradbury (who I was thrilled to meet not once but twice!). The book had an awesome title and no plot but I had the most fun creating the characters and the world they lived in. That to me is the most enjoyable part of writing a novel: envisioning a world and populating it with all kinds of people and dogs. Gotta have a dog.
The worlds I create now as an adult are based on my travels from coast to coast in the US, to Europe and Mexico and Canada, and on the people I have met and loved and admired and feared. And dogs.
Currently I live in Los Angeles. With my dog.
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