Week 7 of the 16 weeks to XVI blog tour (+ ARC!!!)

Please welcome to the blog the lovely Julia Karr, author of the upcoming book, XVI.

With 7 weeks until the book’s release, we’re all about the 7’s.

Julia, in your book, Nina has a charm with the number 7, a symbol for completeness. To me, a complete/whole character is one of the most vital elements in a story. I’d love for you to give us some insight into your character-writing process.

1. The trick of turning a character into a person is in the details. But we all start somewhere. When you set out to develop a character, where do you start? With details or broad strokes?

I get a vision (sometimes literally, like I did with Nina) of the physical characteristics and a bit of attitude. That’s a fairly broad stroke. But, I can’t get far into my story if I don’t know the details. I have to know not just what my characters look like, but what makes them tick. There are some great tools out there for characterizations, but I’m not so good at using them. I might make some notes of the character’s details, but usually I just sit back, close my eyes, and let them tell me who they are.

2. Do characters come to you with names, or do you have to search for ones that fit? If so, how did you come up with the names in XVI?

Usually my characters come pre-named from the naming factory, which is where I got Nina Oberon. But, let me tell you how one character in XVI got named. As you may know, XVI is a NaNoWriMo novel (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninformed.) I was at a write-in with three other NaNo-ers and we were discussing some of the particulars of our novels-in-progress. We discovered similarities in all of our books, except for names. So, we all agreed to put “Leroy” in our novels as a character. I named my Leroy, Leroy Jenkins. As fate would have it, Leroy (Jenkins or no) was not a good fit in XVI, but, Jenkins ended up being the last name of Wei Jenkins, who befriends Nina. So – my names can really come from about anywhere!

3. How much of your characters’ personalities comes from real people you know, and how much is pure fiction?

Ha! I love this question. And, I might answer it honestly – or – I might answer it, honestly. Sort of depends where the comma falls. (hee hee) Several characters have personality traits of friends (or friends I wanted in high school) and relatives. Gran and my grandmother (Gram) who raised me share many similarities. Mostly, my characters surprise me with how individual they are. They might have a pinch of one person and a dash of another, but for the most part, they are totally fictitious.

4. Aside from your main character, do you have a favorite? A secondary or peripheral?

Oh, I’m totally crazy about Pops! My grandfather died the year I was born, so I never had that granddaughter/grandfather relationship. I have it now!

5. What is your favorite *kind* of character to write?

Hmmm… sometimes this depends totally on my mood, but… I do like to write characters that I love to hate. I can really get into the confrontation aspects of an antagonist. Perhaps that’s because I’m pretty much the opposite of that, for the most part.

6. Readers want love interests. What, in your opinion, are the key components to creating strong love interest?

I think you have to show a strong attraction. Not necessarily physical, but a valid reason that two people are drawn to each other. It could be a shared interest or they could be total opposites who are thrown together through circumstance. But, the attraction has to be there – even if it’s a negative attraction at first.

Another thing… we all love (or have loved) someone. A writer has to draw from that place and bring it alive through words. It’s not always easy to do. But, you have to tap into those strong emotions and get them out into your characters. And, it has to be true to character – you can’t just throw two people together and expect sparks to fly. You have to show the reasons the sparks are flying. Some of the best love interests (scenes) ever written (IMHO) are in Jane Austen’s writings. Excellent study guides, her books!

7. What’s one thing we should know about your main character, Nina?

She is so much stronger and braver than she thinks she is.


Victoria, thank you so much for having me on your blog! It’s been so much fun talking about my characters.

This week’s prize is a signed ARC of XVI!

All you have to do is leave a comment. The comments will be open until next Thursday at midnight and the winner will be announced here the next day. And, remember, everyone who comments will be entered in the Grand Prize drawing on 1/6/11 (XVI’s release date!)

28 thoughts on “Week 7 of the 16 weeks to XVI blog tour (+ ARC!!!)

  1. Becky B. says:

    Nice interview, been looking forward to this book, would love to win. 🙂

  2. I’ve been so excited about this book since first hearing about it. And she makes character development sound so easy, doesn’t she?! Thanks for an awesome giveaway!


  3. Melodye says:

    Great interview! I’d love (LOVE!) to explore this topic further with Julia…in person, over tea. 🙂

  4. dsuzuki says:

    Nice interview. I just found out about this book last night. It sounds awesome. dasuzuki at yahoo dot com

  5. RK Charron says:

    Hi 🙂
    Thank you for the excellent indepth interview.
    I really enjoyed learning about Julia’s writing process.
    All the best,

  6. Love hearing how she got Leroy’s name. Most of my characters come prenamed as well. Very fun interview, and thank you for a chance at winning XVI!

  7. Britney W. says:

    I always love reading Julia’s interviews and I can’t wiat for XVI to come out! Yay!

  8. Elie says:

    Please don’t enter me for the arc giveaway, I just wanted to drop in for the interview! Interesting points about characters and the Leroy part. It’s almost time!!

  9. Carla says:

    The more I read about XVI, the more excited I am about it. I particularly like that she enjoys writing characters she loves to hate.

  10. abby mumford says:

    i feel like i’m a little late on the XVI bandwagon, but everything i’ve read so far sounds so flipping cool! and julie’s answers in the interview were fresh and intriguing. i imagine the book will follow suit. psyched for it!

  11. Danya says:

    Definitely agree about Jane Austen’s love interests…they are classic!

    Also as a reader the antagonists can be such a lot of fun to hate as well…and can sometimes be the best characters in a book 😀

  12. Kristina says:

    Great interview. I love the cover of this book, I would be drawn to it in the store without even knowing what it’s about. Sounds like a great book also.

  13. John Moran says:

    A good interview, very interesting 🙂

  14. Nicole says:

    great interview! i would love to win!!

  15. Deserae McGlothen says:

    XVI sounds really exciting. Ever since I started following Kate Testerman’s “Ask Daphne” blog, I’ve been intrigued to know more about and start reading this story. How cool you got an interview!

  16. Llehn says:

    I’ve got my eye on XVI ever since I read it’s premise. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy 😀

  17. Julia Karr says:

    Thanks, everyone for all the great comments! I’m really enjoying all the questions I’ve been answering!

  18. Irish says:

    Loved the interview. I’ve been excited to read this one and this just makes me want to the release date to come even faster. Can’t wait to read it so please enter me in this contest.

  19. Great interview! Very interesting questions about writing characters and how to approach writing a strong love interest. I also read in a different interview that the society in XVI is vegetarian. My vegetarian daughter and I are thrilled about that! Really looking forward to reading this.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  20. Fi-Chan says:

    wow I didn’t know this is a NaNoWriMo novel! Interesting 😀

  21. Lynne says:

    Can’t wait to read this one– it sounds fabulous! Love reading about the character development.

  22. Jessy says:

    I haven’t really heard much about XVI. Thanks for the interview and the chance to learn more about it.

  23. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for the awesome interview! This is a book that’s been on my wishlist–I can’t wait for it to come out officially! I really enjoyed learning more tonight ❤

  24. Lauren M says:

    Aw, great interview! I especially enjoyed the bit about naming characters. It sounds like so much fun! (At least part of Leroy’s name stayed in the story!)

    I’m super excited for XVI. Thanks for this awesome interview and giveaway! 🙂

  25. resugo says:

    Cool interview. I’m really looking forward to XVI. Thanks for the giveaway!

  26. Erica says:

    I loved hearing where some of the character names came from! Characters you love to hate are always fun. I’m really looking forward to XVI. I can’t wait til January 🙂

  27. Kelly says:

    Thanks for this great interview!!
    It is so great that character names come so easy to her.. Impressive too. I know other authors struggle to decide upon a name or physical appearance.
    It makes it so much more authentic that it comes so naturally to her! 🙂

    I cannot wait till the book comes out!

  28. Julia Karr says:

    Sorry I’m a bit late with the winner today. Saw Deathly Hallows last night and got all caught up this morning reading from the end point in the movie to the end of the book! Oops!

    Chosen, by random.org – the winner is Lauren M. !!!!! YAY!

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