Writing Non-human Characters with Meradeth Houston Author of Surrender the Sky

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on July 11, 2014 in Books, Guest, Meradeth Houston, MuseItUp, Writing, Young Adult |

Once again returning to share her wisdom on writing is Meradeth Houston! Meradeth is the author of the fantastic paranormal Sary Society Series, the latest of which is Surrender the Sky (see my 5-star Goodreads review here). Make sure to check out all the other stops on her Xpresso Book Tours blog tour and enter the giveaway. Welcome, Meradeth!


Writing characters that aren’t human

by Meradeth Houston

Thanks so much for having me back here! It’s always a treat to visit some of my favorite blogs again. I thought I’d talk a little about writing characters that aren’t human today. This is one of those topics that I think about a lot, but don’t generally get the chance to chat about. For those of you who have thoughts on the topic, please chime in too!!

The main characters that I write about in my novels are definitely not human—they’re Sary, which is a breed of supernatural I made up. They’re kind of similar to guardian angels, but I think all of my characters would be the first to tell you that they’re definitely not the angelic sort. They’re the souls of those who die before taking their first breath and are allowed to come back to the earth to help those who are contemplating taking their own life. Basically they’re immortal and have the ability to shift their form to look pretty otherworldly: wings included.

One of the most important things that I think about while writing these characters is to keep in mind their true age. Most of them are several centuries old, which means they’ve seen a lot. Not just historical tidbits (which I find fun to research and layer in), but personal things. They’ve watched everyone around them grow older and die—something that they can’t do. These kinds of things leave their mark, and I try to be aware and respectful of that in my characters. Even if they look to be in their teens or twenties, they’re not going to think like a human, and they’re not going to react like them all the time. This is challenging, but also can be a lot of fun to write.

While the Sary have been “on the ground” throughout their lives, allowing them to adapt as society and culture inevitably change around them, it isn’t necessarily easy. One of the other things I try to think about while writing is those things that the Sary might find comfortable from the past—things that they have a hard time giving up. This might be preferring candles and lamps even with electric lights, or just living in the older part of a city because it seems more like home. Technological changes can seem fast for even me, but for the Sary it’s been tricky to keep up. I like to think about the lag that can occur, and depending on the character, how comfortable they’re going to be with different parts of modern life.

Writing a supernatural being that can fly is also one of those things that I also find really a lot of fun. I know that may sound strange, but I’ve always wished I could fly (I think this may stem from growing up in California and hating traffic—who wouldn’t want to avoid that??), so writing from the Sary’s perspective is a whole lot of fun in this regard. I pester my pilot brother for aerial photos, and pay a lot of attention to the way the sky looks while in an airplane, hoping to do the concept of flight justice. Hopefully that comes across, because it certainly is fun!

There’s a lot more that goes into writing a character that’s not human, but I’ll stick with this for today! What else do you think goes into making a believable non-human character?

Surrender The Sky 300dpiSurrender the Sky blurb:

Gabby lives by two unbreakable rules: don’t expose her kind, the Sary, and don’t fall in love—too bad some rules are made to be broken.

When Gabby’s most difficult charge accidentally shoots her in front of a class full of students, the event exposes her carefully hidden identity. She shifts from looking like a normal teen to her secret Sary form, revealing her wings and the existence of her kind—immortals who try to keep people from committing suicide. Her incident attracts the attention of the next leader of the Sary, Jassen, who offers her an impossible bargain: she can keep her wings if she makes amends with those who know the truth. Things get more complicated when a rebel Sary, intent on exposing them to the world, starts interfering with Gabby’s work. And there’s no denying her attraction to Jassen, who is torn between his duties and his heart. With threats at every turn and her immortality on the line, Gabby has to find a way to save the Sary or surrender the sky forever.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20943650-surrender-the-sky?ac=1


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Surrender-Sary-Society-Meradeth-Houston-ebook/dp/B00K2IMTNG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404146503&sr=1-1&keywords=Surrender+the+Sky+by+Meradeth+Houston

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/surrender-the-sky-meradeth-houston/1118931601?ean=2940045770484

MeradethAbout the Author:

Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:

>She’s a Northern California girl. This generally means she talks too fast and use “like” a lot.
>When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
>She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It’s her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!
>If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.

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  • Meradeth says:

    Thanks so much for hosting me today!! (Again, lol!) And who gets to say that their awesome editors gets to host them? I mean, I think that’s pretty sweet 🙂 Hope you have an awesome weekend!!!

  • Giselle says:

    Thanks for being on the tour, Katie! 🙂

  • Wendy L says:

    Writing non human characters with human characteristics would be difficult. I can from your post, Meradeth, you really have to think outside the box to keep them believable and yet visual and discernable. Thanks for the insight. I love the title and cover of your new book. Your blurb sounds intriguing.

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