Posts Tagged ‘Craig Hallam’

Character Development: A guest post by Craig Hallam!

This week I am pleased to host author Craig Hallam as he writes about Character Development. I was first introduced to his work on his short story anthology Not before Bed. His debut novel Greaveburn will be coming out August 20.


I don’t know about you, but I tend to write the kind of characters that I also like to read. That’s how I get excited about a project. It’s like getting psyched up to see a movie you’ve been waiting for. So, since we’re talking about writing characters, it might be helpful if I tell you what my favourite books are, right? Here goes:

Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast

Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club

Nick Horby’s High Fidelity

I hope that helps.  But if not, then basically I like my heroes to not really be heroes at all. And that’s the kind of philosophy I put into my own writing. You can sum it up with the old adage “No-one’s perfect”. When I think about my characters, what they’re going to do, who they’ll meet, I don’t think about how their virtues will carry them through to a positive conclusion. Rather, I think about what makes them tick, what are their character flaws, and how does that effect their drives and desires and so how they act when they come across others. Because, as far as I’m concerned, that’s how the world works. It’s our quirks that drive us. And I reckon that’s how you make an interesting and well-rounded character, too.

Let’s do a case study (I know, I’m all about the fun).

Let’s call this character Boris. Now, Boris is from a working class family, but he’s done pretty good for himself with a little hard work and a whole lot of luck. He has a steady job with decent wages. He’s managed to bag himself a great girlfriend. Boris would like to be a painter.

Sounds fine, right? But it’s boring. And Boris will be boring in everything he does. So let’s give him some flaws.

He’s a dreamer, who sometimes forgets that the real world exists. Sometimes, he’d rather sit and paint the world than take part in it. His sense of humour is dry enough that no one really knows when he’s joking. And his parents splitting up when he was younger and the subsequent fallout has left him with a desire to be always independent, and never get too close to anyone. It’s made him cynical in a lot of ways and his sense of humour feeds on that.

Yowza. Boris is pretty interesting now, right? And it’s the flaws that make him that way. His relationship with his girlfriend could be strained because he doesn’t want to let her too close to him just to leave him alone (like what happened to his parents). He uses that dry sense of humour and vivacious imagination to keep people at arm’s length. His paintings become his world, and he would be almost reclusive of it weren’t for his girlfriend’s influence.

Can you see hoe the character’s flaws are what create the plot. All we have to do is have Boris’ girlfriend leave him, and you’ve got yourself the start of a good novel!

When I was writing the character of Abrasia for Greaveburn, I knew that she would be the heroine (or protagonist if you prefer that), that she would be in dire straits, and that it would be through her that the reader saw the incredibly dark and dangerous world that she was trapped in. But to leave it at that would make her one dimensional; the typical damsel in distress. Who wants to read that? I certainly don’t. She’s a sixteen year old girl in dire peril with no hope of survival. And so, understandably, Abrasia can be a little…spikey sometimes. She can also be ruthless and spiteful. She has to be in order to stay alive. But she also happens to be quite sensitive when she needs to be. That all amounts to a lot of character in the little spitfire.

And so, dear friends, readers and writers alike, that’s the best advice I can give to you today. In order to make your characters truly lifelike, and help your reader to engage with them, make sure they have flaws just like we do. It doesn’t mean they won’t be likeable. No-one’s perfect.

Thanks for reading.

Greaveburn hits the shelves (both virtual and corporeal) in most major book retailers on August 20th from Inspired Quill Publishing.

A hero murdered.

A girl alone.

A city of villains.

From the crumbling Belfry to the Citadel’s stained-glass eye, across acres of cobbled streets and knotted alleyways that never see daylight, Greaveburn is a city with darkness at its core. Gothic spires battle for height, overlapping each other until the skyline is a jagged mass of thorns.

Archduke Choler sits on the throne, his black-sealed letters foretell death for the person named inside. Abrasia, the rightful heir, lives as a recluse in order to stay alive. With her father murdered and her only ally lost, Abrasia is alone in a city where the crooked Palace Guard, a scientist’s assistant that is more beast than man, and a duo of body snatchers are all on her list of enemies.

Under the cobbled streets lurk the Broken Folk, deformed rebels led by the hideously scarred Darrant, a man who once swore to protect the city. And in a darkened laboratory, the devious Professor Loosestrife builds a contraption known only as The Womb.

With Greaveburn being torn apart around her, can Abrasia avenge her father’s murder before the Archduke’s letter spells her doom.

Contact Craig

eMail: craighallam@live.vom

Twitter: @craighallam84



Interview with Craig Hallam author of Not Before Bed

Craig Hallam is one of my favorite new authors. I read his collection of short stories Not Before Bed while I was on vacation this year. I completely loved all the differences: some felt more horror, some were more science fiction or urban fantasy with a horror bent, so I am excited to have him on the blog this week.
What inspired you to write you in the first place?
I’ve always been an avid reader. I love anything Speculative Fiction and the worlds it creates. I think that’s where I got bitten by the bug. I wanted to create something as fantastic and exciting as my favourite authors.
What have you learned as a writer? What is the hardest part of being a writer?
I think the most important lesson to learn is that writing is a craft. While you may be able to knock out something of novel length in a relatively short time (as I’m seriously envious that soem people can do), the story still isn’t ready. It’s about the refining, the tightening, making every image and cahracter as vivid as they can be. Diggin up the ore is the easy part, making it into steel takes the time. But the hardest part of being a writer, I think, is the self-promotion. I’m pathetically modest by nature and I hate selling myself. Getting my work out on Twitter or my blog, even submitting to publications, is the hardest part for me.
I remember seeing somewhere that you are also a nurse–but now I can no longer find that bit of information–so if it is wrong then how has your day job: affected your writing? (Yes, folks, this is exactly how I asked the question.)
I think that being a nurse has certainly helped the way I see people. Everyone is just a collection of nuances and insecurities, most evident when we’re ill. I’ve become pretty good at picking apart people’s psyches for the sake of helping them get to the root of their problems and I think that comes out in my own characters. Apart from that, the anatomy is great for when I write horror hahaha
I know you have also been published in New Horizons as well as Murky Depths, how does writing a single short story compare to writing a whole collection?
My collection, Not Before Bed, has been a culmination of three years of work, really. Each story was written in isolation to the rest, from a different page in my overflowing notebook, and so they’re all very different. Compiling them into a collection with a point and a flow was incredibly hard. That mix of dark and funny, long and short, was a real challenge.
How did you decide on which short stories to put in your collection?
I essentially picked the best ones hahaha The first edition of Not Before Bed had some questionable content that wasn’t very good but was there for bulk. The newer, scarier edition has lots of new material and the chaff has been trimmed, shall we say? Those newer stories have come at the end of a three year learning curve where I’m a lot more confident int he images I’m producing and the point of my stories. While some of the earlier works were changed slightly for publications, many of the stories in NBB are undoubtedly me (which is scary, really hahaha).
What are you reading right now?
I’m working through Terry Pratchett’s Snuff I always loved Pratchett’s work and this is a return to one of my favourite characters so i couldn’t pass it up.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
 I love Pratchett’s humour, Stephen King’s attention to detail, Nick Hornby’s ease of reading and Chuck Palahniuk’s hard-hitting and ingenious stories. My all time favourite book, however, has to be the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake.
What is your next project?
Well, my debut novel, Greaveburn, is currently going through edits, so that’s what I’m focussing on right now. My editors at Inspired Quill Publishing are really great people to work with and very supportive. The novel is a gothic fantasy with Steampunk elements. It’s been a labour of love for me for a few years now and seeing it on shelves later this year is going to be an incredible experience. Hope you get to read it!

Twitter: @craighallam84

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