Who is Tova? That is the title to the chapter I am inserting into Stefan’s Owl from Oblivion. Tova is a very important character in the book and prime motivator for Stefan. I realized that although I had little blurbs defining various part of her character, I never made her truly real as you can for a character in a Literary Fiction novel. You couldn’t “feel her” in your heart and I really want all my characters to pull at your heart strings. It’s also a problem in that this book really is about a group of boys of various ages, and I realized that while I had defined the boys characterization pretty well, I had totally neglected the independent female characters, i.e., the females that aren’t just the mother of the moment but have a role all to their own. When I went back and defined the female character, Jenny, by telling her backstory, it strengthened all the characters, because if the female character isn’t significant, has something to contribute all her own to the boy’s development, then why have the boys interact with them so much. So now it’s time to write the backstory for Tova so that she feels like a living and breathing person. But who is Tova? If I don’t deeply know, then I can’t write about her as if she is a real person. Honestly, I know all the plot points about Tova, and I know more about the course of her life than I am likely to be able to write. But beyond the facts of her life, I have to know who she truly is, how would I feel if I were talking to her. Because my mind is very visual, the best way for me to examine a character is to draw them or in this case to illustrate them. You have to make so may decisions about them from the expression you decide to pose them with to the texture of their skin, the way the iris in their eyes have formed, that by the time I am finished illustrating the character, I know them pretty well.
The thing about Tova is that at birth, she is not exactly human. She has a human dad or so people think. Yet those alien genetics mixing with human genetics are not likely to mix well. Tova is a mix of human, Saeshell, and Sun God. Throw that in a blender and see if it doesn’t stink. So, her appearance will have some traces of alien (much more than a trace inside her body) and her appearance might be a bit odd for a 15-year-old girl. There’s enough human there that people don’t run in terror when they see her. And since almost all of humanity in this world doesn’t know aliens are on Earth, she must be acceptable as a human with some “differences”, possibly birth defects. She does have strange skin colorations and hair colorations. Well maybe she likes to pretend to be some science fiction character. Genius girls like her are pretty strange, have kinks in their personality (or so people think). The other outwardly noticeable feature is that her irises have a bit of orange in an odd place which is not normal for any human. Likewise, her eyes are missing eyelashes. Must be a birth defect. Everyone needs eyelashes, right? (Unless you live exclusively in spaceships or artificial environments, in which case, evolution might have taken them a way.) Besides being unnaturally smart, even for a human prodigy in biological sciences like she is, there is that intense stare… can you feel it. She may be smiling at you, but mentally, she already has you on the dissection table. Can you feel the knife?
I have included the chapter start page to give you an idea (and me too) of what the chapter will look like while I am writing it.