I think it’s safe to say that this is going to be my favorite post I’ve ever written. Possibly also the hardest? On one hand, it’s definitely because I love talking about my own characters, and they make me stupid squeal at any given moment. But, on the other, I can’t wait for all of you to be able to fall in love with them, too, and I hope this list gives you a sneak peak into who to pay the most attention to. Although, I guess that’s not really a good way to do it because when I look at my favorite characters in some of my favorite books, they’re only sometimes the MC, and so, they’re not really indicative of who is going to be the star of the show. But, then again, they also might be the most developed, and I’m really just talking myself in circles here because I am both terrified and so excited to write this post.
Is this like picking your favorite child? If it is, I know who mine is. And yes, these are all men, but next week’s TTT is going to be about all the women! There were just too many options, and I didn’t feel like picking, so I split them up. This is not in order, although the first one is my favorite, and given how they came into my brain, that’s probably pretty indicative of an order.
I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that I spend 50% of my life with my brain devoted to Alex Hart. And it’s weird, too, because none of you will ever meet him. Back in 2007, when I was first starting to really explore fanfiction, I wrote a fic for Good Charlotte that starred my first ever original character–Alaxzander Xavier Hart. Yup, ya girl was so emo that she put an x and a z in his name. Thankfully, I’ve since axed that idea, and he’s just Alexander, nothing fancy, but wow, no one ever calls him by his full name. He is near and dear to my heart, and though I’ll never publish his novel (and this is not a case of maybe someday, I made this decision after many, many years of working on his story), he’ll always be my favorite character ever.
Alex Hart is a 17-year-old hellbent on destroying his life. Addicted to heroin, abused by his mother, and not entirely sure he wants to live to see his birthday, the only thing Alex really looks forward to is his guitar, his dad in prison, and his boyfriend. His novel, Walk Among Us, is absolutely titled after a Misfits song, and it follows his journey through potentially the last year of his life. Inspired by Nikki Sixx’s The Heroin Diaries and a youth of punk rock, Alex’s story has a lot of self-destructive tendencies in it, but, at its heart, it’s about the power of music and friends who are willing to do anything to save you, even from yourself.
Oh, Landon. At the end of my days, when I’m done writing because I’m literally on my deathbed (and, let’s be real, even then I’ll still be trying to get a few last words in), Landon is going to be the one I remember. He’s not the oldest, doesn’t have the most emotional impact on me, and didn’t really help me through anything crazy, but he would definitely take the top spot if not for Alex Hart. I don’t even truly know what it is about Landon that makes him so big in my heart, that makes my bones ache with how much I want to shelter him from the cruel world he lives in. (Yes, that I wrote him into.) I think I can say, too, with a degree of confidence, that many of you are going to feel similarly about him.
Landon Ash is a lonely boy who saw a broken world and decided to fix it. Raised with the belief that everything that he was, the magic that he carried inside, was inherently wrong, Landon spends his days wavering between devotion toward the god that doesn’t want him and the god that does. Even while smuggling people out of his slowly unraveling city, he bows his head in supplication beneath the towering cathedral that looms over the city, the very same city that calls him a Saint for each act of rebellion he carries out against his faith. He’s a complex character that struggles through pain and uncertainty, all while buoyed by hope and fierce determination. I love him with all of my heart, and I can’t wait to get back to his story someday soon.
There’s this phrase that is probably going to be the most-used in Pen boys, and it’ll probably be one that people eventually quote; or, at least, one that I’ll just utter frequently. Oh, Olly. Everyone says it to Oliver at some point or another, and even just typing Oliver right there felt weird because I almost always call him Olly, as do many of his friends, and even though the Pen boys is a third person POV, so I should be used to typing it, I haven’t written it in so long that all I can hear is Jasper cackling in my head Olly Holly. This sweet boy is probably the saddest character I’ve ever written, but he also has one of the most hopeful endings.
Oliver Hollands has recently moved to Massachusetts when we meet him after traveling cross-country with his father to escape the haunting memory of his recently passed mother. He doesn’t want to be alive, and, when they get to Penhallam Academy, he has absolutely no desire to do anything but walk straight off the cliff that the school sits on. Before he gets the chance, though, his roommates stumble into his life, don’t give him an option on being friends, and unknowingly save Olly from everything. His story is one about struggling against the current of depression, and knowing that, sometimes, it’s okay that the current is a little too strong.
Out of all of these characters, Mason is definitely the one that I have the most emotional attachment to. We’ve been through a lot together, and though I’m not going to rehash it all here, we’re finally in a better place. He’s also the weirdest of these characters, somehow, in that he constantly seems to be showing up in what feels like prophetic visions. I’ll see him in savasana and in my dreams, and it’s always very powerful and very strange. It’s probably fitting, honestly, given all that he is, and I’ll never forget the sheer power that he evoked in the opening scenes of the second sister witches, when we don’t quite know who or what he is yet, just that he’s there in the periphery, and he’s a little daunting.
Mason is an elemental faery, and, after 400 years without the successful rising of fire, he has laid waste to the way that fire tries to consume its host, and he’s finally won the battle. For the first time in four centuries, the elements are in balance, and the faery realm is finally starting to heal. We see him at many different times in his life–struggling to overcome the immense power of the fire element and control it without letting it devour him, rising in the realm as a king long foretold, and, many years later, coming together with all manner of unholy creatures to fight against what should have been an insurmountable threat. That is, if one only counted on the witches to go up against it, and not several different mythical beings.
Theodore Ó Deoráin
Theodore, on the other hand, is the character that I think I’ll be known by. He’s a total psycho, and he’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a character–which is to say he’s basically Deadpool + soft sad boi vibes, and WOW, what a weird combo–so I feel like he’s going to be a lot of reader’s unexpected box checked. He was a fun character to create, too, because I knew, far longer than I actually knew what it was about, that I was going to write a story about three witch best friends. I’ve always had that idea in my head, and though I usually work in reverse–characters and then plot–sister witches decided to flip the script in a very predictable way given that everything in that book is unpredictable. Theo was an anomaly, too. I nailed down the three witches fairly easily, but, even when I started writing that opening chapter to the first book, all I knew was his name and that he was a demon. I had no idea what his personality would be like until we first got a glimpse of his ratty old Converse.
Theodore Ó Deoráin is someone I’m definitely going to have to ask an Irish speaker how to pronounce his name so I don’t look like an utter fool. He’s brash, rude, and doesn’t give a flying fuck what you think about him. He wears his hats backward, his jeans tight, and his Converse with holes. He’s annoying, highly obnoxious, and he will 100% hip check you straight into the street if he’s feeling pissy. He’s also kind to a fault, and he would do literally anything to save the people that he loves, which aren’t a lot, but that’s because he’s too busy giving all of himself to those few people. I hope, when readers fall in love with him, they do it both because he gives wet willies and because he unabashedly tells his girls that he loves them.
Recently, I read The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by VE Schwab, and it occurred to me, after five full years with Andrew stomping around in my brain, that it made absolutely no sense for me to tell the story of a two thousand year old vampire with only a few years. I mean, what? Andrew goes all the way back to BC, why am I not unraveling his entire life? And, once that can of worms was opened, well. It has been a rollercoaster throughout the last six months revamping (HA) his character. Fun fact: when I first created Andrew in 2015 through a Thursday Thousand short story, his name was Lucien (I was, and will always be, a massive Underworld fan) and he had amnesia. I’ll never forget the day I looked over at my friend and asked, “Why does Andrew have amnesia? What purpose does that serve?” She legit just started cackling. It never made sense, but I needed to realize that before I could get to the point he’s at now.
Andrew Levi–though he’s better known as Andreas Leui in his worldly travels–is exactly what you’d expect out of a vampire: stoic & somber. I almost typed regal, but though he definitely does hold himself like he’s royal (and is certainly treated like he is, though for good reason), he doesn’t have the conceit that usually comes hand-in-hand with that kind of posturing. It’s more of a quiet confidence, the weight of millennia stacked on his shoulders reminding him how insufferably long life is, but the light of all those around him carefully bolstering him back up. Out of everyone on this list, he’s going to undergo the most changes over the course of his novel (duh, it’s two thousand years), and I’m so excited to crack into his character development.
The newest baby on the list, please welcome Frederick Hanscomb Wright III! Freddie’s full name somehow manages to surpass another name two slots down, which I never thought would happen, given how ridiculous it is, but I wanted his name to be as British and ostentatious as possible, and yeah, I think I nailed it on the head. I just finished writing his duology last year, and I’m planning on doing revisions on it this year, and it’s all been such a whirlwind of things I didn’t expect, but am so, so glad to have. It’s fun, too, because it’s just a duology, and though it does exist in my larger universe, it’s a complete piece all on its own, and it only has very little ties into the rest, given how much earlier it takes place than most of them.
Freddie came to me all at once, too–British, redhead, chaotic researcher, non-religious, and fiercely devoted to his sister. He loves books way more than even me, he could eat double his weight in food and still be a wiry bean for how much he runs around, and he will sob straight into his cat about how much he loves her. He’s probably the softest character on this entire list, and though he goes through hell and back and still manages to shake his fist at the world, he’s got his fair share of heartbreaking moments, which also probably makes him the most realistic of these characters. Everyone else is such a hard ass, and there’s Freddie, hiding behind his tea and playing his piano as a way to heal.
JULES! It has been so damn long since I last even though about Julian! Gosh, his creation is probably my favorite on this list. In the second Saints (the first series is a duology), about halfway through, one of the characters mentions that he was given the name Julian Mallory and told where to find him should he wish to leave the island. There’s literally, like, four sentences in total? They talk about how he’s a piece of work, but also highly respected, and that’s about it. Fast forward to the end of the duology, and yeah, we all know how this goes. I couldn’t stop thinking about this potential character, so I wrote him a short story, which turned into a prologue, which turned into a new spin-off duology, and thus, Saints at sea was born.
Julian Mallory is very similar to Landon in that he’s also quiet and fierce, but kind of similar to Theodore, too, in that he will absolutely free dive off the highest part of the mast that he can climb to. In his youth, he drowned in the ocean after a terrible storm, but the goddess that swam in the deep adored how much he loved the ocean that she saved his life, imbuing him with a swell of her magic. It forever changed him, and it wasn’t long before Julian set off from home, determined to sail the high seas. Over the years, he started to make a name for himself until he finally captained his own ship, and now, when The Wolf sets sail, you get out of its way.
Yes, this is the other obnoxious name–Harrison Eldridge, WHAT A NAME. All of the Eldridge family has absurd names because why the heck not, if we’re going to write about rich boys in a private school, gotta give them stupid names. I can’t believe I’m putting another Pen boy on this list, and it’s not James, but alas, if we’re being honest, I love Harrison too damn much. The amount of times that I’ve seen some flamboyantly floral piece of clothing and just offhand thought Harrison would rock that, even years after I originally wrote the book.
Harrison Eldridge is the leader of the rowdy MCs of the Pen boys–I was going to say unconscious leader, but it’s totally conscious. They all know who’s calling the shots, and despite the fact that James is the abrasive one and Jasper is the punk, Harrison is always going to be able to wrangle them in. He’s the kind of person that people happily stand behind, ready to fight for him no matter what. He’s a bit proud, but he’s also taken a lot of hits because of that pride, so he starts to feel a little wounded toward the end of the first book. He’s such a sweetheart, though, and he’s really got a heart of gold. And yes, he does wear floral and polos and boat shoes, and the others give him so much shit for it.
And here it is, folks, almost the oldest character on this list. Alex came before Rónán by mere months, and I’ve honestly always considered Rónán my first original character since Alex was born out of a fanfiction, but, chronologically, Alex was seventh grade, and Rónán was eighth, back when he was known as Rayne. I think I just vomited in my mouth a little. GUYS. The first iteration of Rónán’s story included portal magic between earth and a fantasy realm, there were minimum eighty-five million dragons, all with their own personal stake in the story, there was SO MUCH WEEPING, the characters had names like Mikayle and Christi and Lazarus, and it was a mess. I worked on Rónán’s story for twelve damn years, and though I’ve finally set it aside and will likely never work on it again, he still sits in my heart as one of my favorites.
Rónán is a lot of things, and none of which I’m really sold on. He’s been the son of gods, a bastard, briefly a faery, part-elf, something out of prophecy and legend, and even, for about a second, exiled. Of all the things he’s been, though, thjree have remained consistent–his best friend is a dragon, he’s in love with a commoner, and he’s going to be king. He’s very much Aragorn with a little more angst and a lot more gay, but he’s also everything that I love about Arthurian tales. He’s powerful, and he’s brave, and he’s so full of love that he’ll never fade from my soul. All he ever wants, no matter who or what he is, is to see peace among his people, and that, above all else, is what makes me so damn fond of him.