I am 100% character driven. Obviously. Everything I do in life comes from my character. The choices I make, the things I like, the men I date, even down to where I live, and what I eat for breakfast. So it is in my life, so I make it in the characters I create in my books. Everything comes from character.
Before I write one word in a book, I spend at least a week developing my characters. I have used a book called Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon for the past 7 years to help me create. In his book he has an extensive character interview template, plus names, first and last from various cultures and ethnic groups. He includes emotional responses and gestures, job suggestions, flaws and quirks, and some basic vocabulary in different languages. It’s a buffet of information that I use in the creation process.
Each character I create, I start with the basics, what do they look like, down to weight and height and any distinguishing features like moles or tattoos. Then I think about what kind of clothes do they wear, what do they drive, where do they live, what kinds of foods do they like. What kind of job do they have? What was their childhood like? Then I will use astrology to determine their sign and some of their personality traits good and bad. It’s the flaws that I love to explore. It’s those imperfections that make the best characters.
If I still don’t get a sense of who my characters are, I will interview them with questions from the book. It is only when I can hear their voice in my head, do I prepare to actually write their story. The devil is in the detail. And the detail is all about character.
By Tawny Stokes
Genre: Paranormal YA
Awake a year-long coma, where he literally spent in hell, Caden Butcher, 17, developed a special power. He can speak to demons in their own language. This new trick helps him take over the family exorcism business, from his broken alcoholic father. Having to take care of the finances, Caden makes a decent income getting rid of demons. He’s known as the young whiz-kid exorcist to the stars, obtaining most of his work in Hollywood. But what others don't know is the exorcisms are all staged with the help of his best buddy, a demon he met in hell named Dantalion (Dan).
When an exorcism goes wrong, Caden discovers the demon inside a teen girl is not the run of the mill malicious entity but an adversary from down under who is hell bent on Caden’s destruction. The International Order of Exorcists, an organization that tolerates Caden at best because of his respected father, starts their own investigation because of his screw up.
Now with the help of his demon buddy, and Caden’s girlfriend Aspen Spencer, a skilled necromancer, Caden must track down the rogue demon before he can expose Caden as a fraud and destroy everything that matters to him in his life, ending his reign as the one and only Demon Whisperer.
The skin on Alan Bigby’s pock-marked face rippled as if something was alive underneath it. Something big and bad and nasty wanted out to rip something apart. Unnatural black veins popped out on his forehead and temples as he bucked and writhed against the iron shackles chaining him to the chair. The fat rolls of his enormous ass hung over the sides and jiggled with each spasm. If it had been under different circumstance I would’ve laughed at that.
“I’m going to rip out your innards, Butcher, and eat them raw,” he spat at me.
Then he really did spit. Viscous green phlegm spewed from between his thin cracked lips and landed on the toe of my black Doc Marten. Disgusted, I shook it off, and then dug into the beat-up, brown leather bag I had slung over my shoulder and across my chest for the holy water. It was time to get busy. No more messing around. I had to exorcise this guy and be done with it. The money from this one would pay the rent for the condo my dad and I had. Groceries too for a few months.
“Not today, you’re not,” I said as I unscrewed the sliver cap on the bottle of holy water.
I glanced over at Eleanor Bigby standing in the corner wide-eyed, wringing her hands as she watched in horror as her husband twisted and pulled at the restraints I had put on him. He was bound to a metal chair in the middle of a pentagram that I’d inscribed in blessed chalk on the blond hardwood floor of their big expensive house overlooking the Hollywood Hills. I could see the white sign out the front bay windows.
She probably had no idea that when she called the Butchers to exorcize the demon possessing her husband that it would look like this. She probably thought watching her fat husband crab-walk across the ceiling of their bedroom was disturbing enough.
“Dude, is he going to hurt himself?”
I glanced over my shoulder at the guy holding the camera trained on Alan Bigby. He had shaggy blond hair and a freshly clipped soul patch that I nearly envied. Except I didn’t like him much. He was a dick with too much time and money on his hands.
“For the last time, dude, shut up. I’m the only one supposed to be talking,” I answered, forgetting that the exorcism was being televised.
By Tawny Stokes
Genre: Paranormal YA
During the summer before her senior year, 17 year old band groupie, Salem Vale, has been following her favorite punk rockers, Malice, from gig to gig hoping that one night she might get backstage and meet the sinisterly sexy guys. She’s been saving her virginity for the lead singer Thane. One fateful evening she gets her wish. It’s a dream come true.
Except the dream turns to a nightmare when she wakes up in a dumpster, tossed away like yesterday’s trash, with no memory of what happened the night before. She feels strange, different, as if something is trying to get out. Soon she realizes she’s changing…turning into something not quite human.
Now a hunger deep inside claws at her to feed, to siphon energy from those around her. Before she can do just that, Trevor, the band’s roadie shows up and stops her from killing. With his help she learns to control the hunger inside, because he’s just like her. And in return he wants her help to do one little thing…
Help him kill the members of Malice.
You belong to me…
I own you…
The hypnotic timbre of Thane’s voice surged through my body making me tingle all over. Like a rush of heroin injected into my vein, soothing me, exciting me, I was completely and utterly hooked.
The bustling crowd in front of the stage swayed back and forth and I swayed with them. I was caught in the movement—the flow of people stirred like a whirlpool to the intoxicating rhythm and razor sharp lyrics of Malice.
Your life’s in my hands…
I’m sucking your soul…
My favorite band for the past year, I’d traveled, with my best friend Chloe, across Idaho and Washington in the past two months to see them play. My mom had been really cool about it, even lending me her car—an old POS, but a vehicle nonetheless—to drive to the shows just as long as I didn’t drive home trashed. I’d attempted it one night, but got scared when I couldn’t keep it on the road, and pulled over at a rest stop. Chloe and I slept in the car.
Thankfully no crazed psycho killer raped and mutilated us. The worst that came at us was a stray dog looking for some scraps. Chloe gave it the rest of her cheeseburger that we’d picked up a MacDonald’s drive thru after the show.
For eight gigs, I’d been entranced by the four member—three guys and one girl—band. My body responded to every aspect of their music. My head pounded to the constant heady thump of the drums, my heart thrashed to every guitar riff, and my thighs clenched with every word lead singer Thane uttered into the microphone.
Some songs he looked like he was making love to the equipment, running his fingers up and down the silver pole, uttering a lover’s words in its ear. I ached and throbbed wishing I could be that thin pole of shiny metal. If only he’d hold me like that, gripping me tightly, running his sweet lips over my face and neck. My eyes nearly rolled back in my head in ecstasy imagining what that would feel like.
Early reviews and praise:
“You’re going to love Static — a deep, dark and sexy ride. This is a creepy and unique addition to the YA paranormal genre that goes a little bit further and gives a little bit more.” – Janet Gurtler, author of I’m Not Her and If I Tell, Sourcebooks Fire.
”STATIC is an edgy, dark, and delicious read! Tawny Stokes is a tasty new voice in YA fiction.” –Michelle Rowen, national bestselling author of Demon Princess series
“Static is an edgy, unique, whirlwind paranormal story with great action and amazing storytelling. This one leads you down a path you won’t forget. Don’t miss it!” – Denise A. Agnew award-winning author of Dark, Deadly Love
Tawny Stokes has always been a writer. From an early age, she’d spin tales of serial killers in love, vampires taking over the world, and sometimes about fluffy bunnies turned bunnicidal maniacs. An honour student in high school, with a penchant for math and English, you’d never know it by the foot high blue Mohawk and Doc Martens, which often got her into trouble. No longer a Mohawk wearer, Tawny still enjoys old school punk rock, trance, zombie movies, teen horror films, and fluffy bunnies. She lives in Canada with her fantastical daughter, two cats, and spends most of her time creating new stories for teens.
Tawny also writes adult paranormal/urban fantasy fiction under the name Vivi Anna, and is an aspiring screenwriter.