Meanwhile, here’s a post about the characters I wrote as a guest blog recently for the lovely Planet Print blog.
Night School Characters
When I started writing Night School, it really came together around its lead characters. Once I’d sketched them out and I knew who they were, they came to life for me. I then built the school and the world in which they exist around them.
Are they based on people I know? Not in any literal way. But I have taken elements of the personalities and lives of people I have known and incorporated those. Allie’s life contains feelings and memories of my own teenage years. But Rachel sounds the most like me. I, like her, am happiest on the periphery of any party; absorbing information from the people around me. And, while some elements of Carter’s personality came from things my husband told me about his teenage years, he also reminds me a lot of a boy I went to school with.
Here are some quick character sketches of the main players in Night School.
Allie is sixteen, and everything has fallen apart. Once a promising student, her life changed after a family trauma. She lost interest in school, and her parents lost interest in her. Her grades plummeted, she fell in with a bad crowd and spent her days skipping class and her nights tagging. But at heart, she’s still a good kid. Behind the heavy makeup, the hair dye, and the trashy clothes, there’s a wounded girl looking for herself. All she needs is someone – anyone – she can really trust.
Brooding, complex and intelligent, Carter immediately recognises Allie as a kindred spirit. His childhood, too, was coloured by grief. Like her, he has broken all the rules, just to see if anyone will notice. Tall, with thick, dark hair and fathomless eyes, he has broken hearts at Cimmeria for years. His reputation is so bad, Allie’s new friends warn her away from him. But there’s something in him that makes her wonder if he could be someone she could believe in.
The only child of a billionaire family, at 17, Sylvain (pronounced ‘sil-VAN’) appears rich and spoiled. His French-Algerian mother is responsible for his tawny skin and dark, wavy hair, while his French father gave him his almost unnaturally beautiful blue eyes. The combination of good looks and endless wealth mean that nobody ever tells him ‘no’, and it seems that this has ruined him. He appears to be just another wasted child of means. And yet he continually surprises Allie with selfless acts of bravery. There may be more to him than first meets the eye.
Perky, sunny 16-year-old Jo was born into a family that seems to have it all – money, looks, and power. But her parents are only interested in themselves – their two children were only ever for show. She’s been stowed away in boarding schools her entire life. Surrounded by expensive shoes and clothes but starved for attention, she is prone to breakdowns that endanger herself and others. She sees in Allie the sister she never had – but she finds it hard to keep it together enough to be anybody’s true friend.
Brilliant and precocious, Rachel, 16, is the daughter of a scientist mother and a security expert father. Born in Yorkshire, she’s of practical, hard-working stock. Because Cimmeria changed her father’s life – taking him from a life of hardship into one of wealth – he believes in the mythology and history of the school. But while she’s willing to accept Cimmeria’s academic side, Rachel avoids its powerful secrets. She wants nothing from the school but an education. Then she’s out of there. However, the school has a way of getting to everybody in the end.