I’d like to thank author Ellie O’Neill for contributing this guest post about the development of the character Kate in just-released novel Reluctantly Charmed. Ellie O’Neill took the long way round. She sold spider catchers in Sydney, flipped burgers in Dublin and worked in advertising in London. All the while, she had that niggling feeling she had stories to tell. So, at thirty-something, she made the brave leap and moved back in with her parents to get the job done. Swapping the dizzy disco lights of London for their suburban Dublin house, she scribbled away knowing that there was something about Irish fairies she needed to share with the world. Then, most unexpectedly, Ellie fell madly in love. The only catch was he lived in Australia. True to form, she couldn’t ignore the magic and followed her heart to Oz for what was supposed to be a long holiday. Five years later Australia is home to Ellie, her Joe and their fabulous baby (with an Irish name no one can pronounce). They live in Geelong and Ellie is currently working on her second book. Read my review of Reluctantly Charmedhere and follow Ellie on Twitter here.
While writing Reluctantly Charmed Kate developed in my head more and more until I knew everything about her. To me she is a fully fledged and formed person, and she exists. Having written ‘The End’ a while ago now I can tell you where Kate is and what she’s up to – she lives and breathes (all’s going well for her BTW). For me, she’s never just existed on the page, which is both creepy and wonderful at the same time. It was always really important to me that Kate was ‘normal’. That she was leading a life that was relatable; intimidated by her boss, not too sure where her career is at, chasing the wrong but oh-so-attractive guy, interested in fashion and has an army of wonderful friends that seem to know her better than she knows herself. She’s on a journey, and because the tone of the book is almost autobiographical, she had to be believable and genuine. Never more so than when she’s exposed to the supernatural world, her normality is what gives the supernatural a possibility. If Kate wasn’t a credible character the ‘other world’ wouldn’t be able to exist in this book.
There’s a lot of me in Kate, particularly when she’s trying to weigh up her genuine desire for truth in a supernatural world and her practical no nonsense, realistic approach to life. I read my horoscope and have gone to pricey fortune tellers, and I don’t really know why. I suppose I like it. I think Kate is interested in it too.
And men … eh? Yeah, I definitely borrowed from past experiences with Kate’s infatuation with Jim. I have wasted more time than I care to remember wondering, and dreaming and thinking about the ‘what if’ guy. Interpreting text messages, calling in friends for advice, imagining scenarios where we could live happily ever after … I don’t think I need to go on, I could really embarrass myself and recount the story where I walked around an office block for an hour at lunch time (in high heels and a ridiculously short dress) waiting to accidentally bump into a ‘what if’ guy, who barely knew my name. In hindsight that might have been a good thing – he wouldn’t have been able to file a police report!
I felt so proud of Kate’s strength at the end of the book. That surprised me, how independent she became. She makes the biggest decision of her life without any consultation or dithering. She knows who she is and she trusts herself, Which is a huge leap from the beginning of the novel. As I was writing it I felt like a cheerleader, with pom poms and a placard reading ‘GO KATE’.