Everybody Has A History
Looking at me, a twenty-four year old young woman, you would never guess that I am a widow. It’s hidden beneath my youthful looks. Upon meeting me for the first time, you would never know that I spent a winter just outside the arctic circle or that I was a vegetarian for eight full years. These are things you can’t immediately judge from looking at a person, but they are all there. They form my approach to life, they show in my manner of bearing and my attitude towards other people.
Every character in a book has experiences, a story, a life beyond what is shown on the pages. This story crafts who they are and how they react to the events that unfold around them. You can’t possibly show every single mark afflicting a person beneath their skin and smile.
Backstory is a tricky thing to feed into a book. After all, unless you start from the moment the main character is born (which is unadvisable, seeing as a story rarely begins until the character is at least cognizant of her or his own actions), the character has a past.
Sometimes, this past plays a large role in the book and is mentioned, but never delved into. For instance, the hero in Never a Princess, Always a Frog is a widow. His relationship with his late wife colors his interactions with the heroine. A breakup taking place before the beginning of the story in Beauty in his Bed provides the catalyst, driving Amy to seek refuge somewhere that doesn’t remind her of her ex and the life they shared.
Similarly, in my newest release, Hellish Haven, the backstory is the driving factor of the book. Eva and Grant are married before the start of the book and have a young son. When a drug administered by the government forces Eva to lose her memories of that life, it is up to Grant to remind her of the chemistry and connection they shared.
Backstory plays a larger role in this book than it does in my other books. So large, in fact, that I almost wrote another book detailing their meeting. I held off, however, because their happy ending doesn’t happen until this book.
Their past, just like anyone else’s, is convoluted. Eva shares a past with Grant, and she shares one with the main antagonist as well. To her, it’s more than a little confusing because the drugs have robbed her of the ability to recollect her husband and son at all. She has to take him at his word, take him on faith. For his part, Grant is not willing to let her go without a fight. She is the love of his life, after all.
As the story unfolds, they learn things. About themselves. About each other and their shared past. It is the smallest tip of the iceberg compared to all the things worth knowing about each other. But they have a lifetime off the page to share every other detail.
Everybody has a history. A way of moving, of speaking, of making decisions that is unique to them alone. Every character has something hidden from view. Remember that the next time you write -- or read -- a book. Everything might not come clear on the scant pages allotted to them, but I bet you can puzzle out a few of the details other people might not guess.
Maybe you share a history of common experiences with a character, too.
Genre: Dystopian Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.,
Lyrical Press Imprint
Date of Publication: November 17, 2014
Number of pages: 72
Word Count: 33,718
Cover Artist: Renee Rocco
Two lives. Two realities. But only one truth.
The Senator reigns all-powerful in a manifested picture-perfect world. No worries. No wars. Only the unspoken threat of oblivion if you step a toe out of line. On the other side of the divide, the rebels face a debilitating war against an invulnerable robotic army. Every day is a struggle to earn back their freedoms. Freedom to feel. Freedom of speech. Freedom of thought.
Sergeant Grant Baker is pivotal to the war effort. But ever since his wife’s abduction, he’s been walking around in as much of a daze as the Senator’s brainwashed citizens. Then Eva reappears—without memories of him or their son. And he’s willing to do anything to keep her. Even if it means jeopardizing the war.
Eva doesn’t know which side to believe. Her predictable life as a single nurse, or the man claiming to be her husband. All she knows is she needs to discover how to end the war, quickly. If she doesn’t choose sides soon, she may lose the man—and the life—she never knew she wanted.
Acting as vanguard for the injured squad, Grant turned a corner and froze. A hulky man carried a limp woman over his shoulder.
Grant automatically reached for his gun. Even if they weren’t yet across the divide, he couldn’t stand idle as a man accosted a woman. Or worse. He aimed the rifle at the criminal. “Set her down nice and easy.”
The man froze. He glanced over one meaty shoulder, his unshaven mouth set in a scowl.
“Set her down, or I’ll shoot.”
A gold tooth flashed as the criminal grinned. He hurled the small woman at Grant and dashed for the slim space between two buildings.
Grant moved without thinking. His gun clattered to the ground as he lunged forward to catch the woman before she split her head open on the sidewalk. He grunted as he caught her with her weight against his bruised forearms. He shot a flickering glance her way. A riot of brown curls obscured her face. He set her gently on the ground.
He dashed for the opening the shady figure had disappeared into, but saw no sight of the man. The delinquent was long gone.
Ashland panted as he jogged to Grant’s side. “What happened?”
If Grant never heard that question again, it would be too soon. He shook his head wearily. “Mugging, I guess.”
“They still have those here? I thought the Senator brought an end to violence.” Ashland drew sarcastic quotes in the air as he spoke.
Grant didn’t bother to answer. He turned to the woman and where his squad was now gathered. A horrified private glanced from the woman to Grant and back again. “What do you want us to do with her…sir?”
If they left her, the Senator’s people might find her and stick her back in the pen with the rest of their brainwashed sheep. Then again, that same goon might double back to continue what he started.
He crossed to the woman and crouched to lift her into his arms. Her tangled hair fell away from her face. He nearly dropped her. “Eva?”
Frantically, he pressed his ear to her chest. Her breathing was shallow, but her heartbeat steady and strong. He clutched her tighter. He couldn’t believe it.
He’d found his wife.
About the Author:
L.K. Below wrote Hellish Haven to bring her love of Orwell’s classic 1984 into the modern day…or near future, as it turns out.
She reads as obsessively as she writes and likes to Tweet about both at @LBelowtheauthor.