Monday, August 10, 2020

Weekly Research Fact #4

Weekly research fact #4: Pharaohs would remove the names of previous rulers from statues and place their own name over the top so they would be remembered instead, all so they would live on forever in the after life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

My First 3 Steps When Creating a New Character

Image: Researching a Faerie king

I have a real issue with character development when I first start writing a new story. I get so excited about my new idea that I tend to dive into writing without getting to know any if the main players very well beforehand. This always results in the story fizzling out very quickly, ending up in the scrap heap. It's only when I spend time with the characters first that they then take the time to tell me their whole story.

So what do I do to get to know each character?

Step 1. First I like to work out what event from their past has set them on their current path, whether they know it or not. I write scenes from their perspective (even if they are never the perspective character in the story). It might be a scene at school where their teacher is a total monster to them, a scene where they experience rejection from a love interest, a scene where they receive positive feedback from something they have done. All of these things shape who we are as people, and they will shape your characters as well.

Step 2. The next thing I do is work out my character's religious/moral beliefs. What a person believes on colours the way they view the world. Very, very religious people tend to wear blinkers when placed in situations that go against their faith, as do hardcore atheists. Not everyone is flexible in the face of new evidence.
Image source:

Step 3. The final step is to work out what motivates each character. Often this is a combination of the first two points. Experienced a childhood of neglect? You might be motivated by positive affirmations of others. Have unbreakable faith in your god/s? You might be brave in the face of bodily danger. Grow up with a parent with alcoholism? You may have a zero tolerance attitude to alcohol/a close bond with the bottle/an addictive personality that sees you constantly seeking your next high.

Once I know all of this about my characters I spend a lot of time talking with them, often out loud or in my head while I'm out walking or driving. I throw them into imaginery situations and see how they react. Then, of course, I write my story and reassess each character. If they have not behaved as I had expected I go back to work getting to know them even better to work out why. 

It's no wonder I cry so hard when I have to kill my darlings.

So tell me: what do you do to develop three dimensional, consistent characters? I'm always looking for new techniques to try.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Ash's Research Fact #3

Weekly research fact #3: Another way Anztecs used to make sacrifices was by piercing their ear and collecting their blood to take for the priest to burn. Alternatively they would pull straw through the holes and burn the straw. All of their sacrificing was to feed Huitzilopochtli, the sun god, who was waging an eternal war against darkness. If the darkness won the world would end, as it had ended six times before.

Lovely stuff.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Ash's Research Fact #2

Weekly research fact No. 2: Not all honey is created equal. Test the honey by placing it on the palm of your hand. If your hand goes tingly then either do or do not consume the honey, depending on your desired outcome 😂

A word of warning: an entire Roman legion was wiped out by local tribespeople after they had eaten rhododendron honey and were too incapacitated to fight back.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Ash's Research Fact #1

I'm going to be sharing weekly research facts on my Instagram page (@asholdfieldauthor) and I thought it would be nice to share them here too. I will be sharing more detailed notes for many of these facts for my Patreon patrons. Here is the first one:

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

I am back!

I am officially back writing after a bit of a break to spend some much-needed time with family. In fact, I have been back working for a few months now and I have not been idle.

I have finished writing The Rachaya Series (book 3 is in the hands of my beta readers as I type this). Heart of Dragons proved to be far more difficult to write than I had anticipated. Long story short, my writing was interrupted by a bit of illness and family stuff. This interruption turned out to be a really good thing. In fact, I would say it turned out to be the best thing possible for my book. During my time away from writing I realised that I had been forcing the story based on my original plan for it, rather than letting my characters speak for themselves. I handed over the reigns to Rachaya and friends. The story they wished to tell was far better than anything I could have come up with myself.

It's actually just hit me now how much I am going to miss those characters. My husband wants me to write further stories in the world of Escoria in the future. I don't want to force anything so we'll just see where The Muse takes me next.

I currently have a character in my head for my next story that just will not leave me alone. She is following me around all day, nagging at me incessantly to write down everything she wishes to tell me. Never one to ignore the voices in my head, I have been madly taking notes, developing characters, plotting story arcs and generally just having a grand-ole-time researching. Sometimes I think I became a writer just for the thrill I get when researching.

With my renewed energy and excitement I have also started up a Patreon page for those who wish to support my writing. You can check it out at: . I'm offering exclusive blog posts where I share updates on my writing, explain more about the writing process and share some of my findings from my research. For higher-tiered patrons I will also share first drafts of bits and pieces that I am writing.

That's it from me for now. Hopefully I will not be away from here for so long next time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

In The Company of Madness, by R.B.R. Verhagen

I was lucky enough to be able to get my hands on an advanced reading copy of “In the Company of Madness”, the debut novel by R.B.R. Verhagen. I had previously read Verhagen’s novella, “Murder at the Mountain Rush”, so knew I was in good hands. Verhagen excels at bringing (in my opinion) stale history to life and creating worlds that you can feel, taste and smell. I am very please to say I was not disappointed by “In the Company of Madness”.

“In the Company of Madness” follows a variety of characters who travelled to Australia when it was a convict colony. Author R.B.R. Verhagen has created a bleak world that is in stark contrast to the country we know and love today. Verhagen does not sugar coat the colonisation of Australia. He paints a world that is gritty and grim; a world where only the desperate would want to go. And the characters within this world are as weathered and broken as the country they inhabit. Verhagen has cleverly crafted the characters so you are sympathetic towards them and are heartbroken by their circumstances. They are just so real. There is a real humanity to this book that you do not get from history textbooks.

I read this book slowly, in snatches here and there, so I could spend time meditating on the words I had just read. Verhagen’s use of language is beautiful and subtle, and I can see he has matured in his writing since “Murder at the Mountain Rush”. Verhagen is a writer who is heading into his prime and is surely one to watch in the future.

Order your copy of “In The Company of Madness” by R.B.R. Verhagen here.

Find out more about R.B.R.Verhagen on the socials listed below:
Twitter: @rbrverhagen