Rough Sleepers is being released today! Scroll down to read more about the characters!
I am currently doing a book tour on Instagram so go and check out the posts from all the folks taking part! #nemrowan #roughsleepers
We are hosting the giveaway for everyone who ordered an e-copy of Rough Sleepers, and you could win a signed hard copy and a bunch of other book merchandise.
As it’s release day, I want to talk a little about the book, its characters and how I worked on it, so here we go.
Leon (or Leona) is a very old character of mine, first taking shape as a somewhat scatter-brained space pirate that I created when I was 11 years old. Even before I know what being gay, or even being queer, was all about, there was something rather flamboyantly rainbow about Leon, who later began to evolve into a much bossier, big-mouthed cross-dresser. In later years, he then evolved again into the form he takes now, switching between genders and pronouns, and taking great delight in showing off his good looks. Amusingly, the original form of Leon had a terrible singing voice and was made fun of by the other characters for being awful at karaoke, so in this incarnation, it felt right to make him a successful performer who could actually hold a tune. Leon was always very critical of other peoples’ appearances, he could be quite cutting at times, and I tried my best to retain his sharpness without making him unlikeable.
Ceri is a much newer character. He too underwent some transformation to get where he is now, but I won’t talk about that too much or risk spoiling the story! Ceri represents my own battle with self-harm, appearing as this weathered, scarred old man who feels sorry for himself and runs away at the first sign of emotional confrontation. His appearance and scruffiness in partly inspired by two other characters that appear in the story (Gabriel and DogEnd) as I am, for some unknown reason, very fond of scruffy men. I wanted Ceri to have a chance to repent and for the reader to see him the way Leon sees him: someone who was abandoned when they most needed help, and the consequences of that which followed. Because of Leon’s sometimes shallow personality, it seemed right to pair him with Ceri, who is the complete polar opposite in many ways, as an opportunity for Leon to understand his own flaws and help Ceri heal from his old injuries.
Mecky is a character that is quite close to my heart. She is based in part on a friend of mine from Poland, and she shares a lot of his no-nonsense attitude, his fighting spirit and inability to surrender. Mecky’s language also borrows heavily from the way he talks, so in a way she is my tribute to him for all the times we laughed and the jokes we shared. I wanted her to be strong but also motherly, caring for the other characters and being strong for them despite trying to hold back the crippling grief of losing her husband and child. Most of all, I wanted her to get revenge. I had originally planned for Rough Sleepers to have a polyamorous triad instead of a couple, so some of the traces of Mecky’s brief romance with Leon is still present in the story, but it felt wrong to remove all of it as I didn’t want her relationship with him to be cold and distant. Even with Ceri, she is still very close. I chose to remove the relationship as I felt it would isolate Christine’s character too much.
Christine was created as a sub-character, but she quickly blossomed into one of the main four and took on a personality all her own. Her background closely mirrors my own; in fact, I grew up not far from where her home is set in the story. I feel as though she is a fragment of my own childhood that has broken off and taken up its own personality. Christine’s relationship with Darnel was so important to Darnel’s survival that as soon as he entered the story, I wanted them to have a happy ending and to continue to have a relationship together despite its rocky start. I also wanted to show that a young girl like Christine can be strong and supportive, a reflection of my wife’s relationship with me when we were teens, so it felt natural for her to be Darnel’s support system despite the front of confidence he puts on. Christine even makes Leon doubt his own approach to dating, causing him to reconsider the pressure he puts on Ceri in the beginning.
The idea I had for Rough Sleepers was originally going to be a totally separate story that had nothing to do with Witcheskin. It was spawned from a short story I wrote about Leon getting attacked by a werewolf and turning into a beast, and some of that short story made it into the manuscript, which I used as a base to build upon when I began creating the other characters and planning the rest of the storyline. Some of the characters are going to reappear in the 3rd Lunar Shadows novel, which will tie off the plot (hopefully in a neat way!) and explain some of the unanswered questions in books #1 and #2. It took me about 6 months to write Rough Sleepers (minus the editing process), so it was ready for submission not long before Witcheskin’s release. I think it was so easy to write because I’d had the story going round in my head long before Witcheskin had even taken shape, so putting it into words wasn’t so difficult.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been so lucky with the 3rd book. I’ve scrapped the manuscript 3 times already! But there is a lot of work for me to do in regards to tying off loose ends, winding down character arcs and fact-checking to ensure everything makes sense. I do have some spin-offs planned that will be set after the events of Lunar Shadows, in particular a book about Mecky and what she does after the trilogy ends, which I hope to get started at some point next year.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my little essay about my characters and that you will enjoy reading Rough Sleepers if you have purchased a copy!