Grace A. Johnson
Meet My MC Linkup
Updated: Dec 2, 2021
I have a confession to make, guys. I stalk random bloggers, stow away on their linkups, and plunder their tags.
In fact, I am for once doing something legitimately!
Maya Joelle, another fantastic blogger/writer, introduced this linkup after doing Christine Smith's Know the Novel linkup, which was for NaNoWriMo. Well, I didn't do NaNoWriMo and I didn't do Know the Novel (but, man, I wanted to!), so I have jumped at the chance to do Maya's Meet My MC linkup!
So let's get into it, y'all!
#1 Introduce your MC. What’s their name? Age? Appearance? (Sharing collages/inspiration photos encouraged!)
So, what's hilarious is that I have *cough* five MCs I can choose from in Bound and Determined, my current project that everyone has been waiting for patiently for the last year and a half. I've actually done a Meet the Character post for my hero Keaton (which you can read here), so I don't want to repeat myself (even though I've learned, like, a dozen new things about him). I don't want to do my heroine, because answering all of these questions would be a ginormous spoiler. Therefore, I'm going with the character who ends up the MC of pretty much everything, the one I know better than I know myself, the one who I *actually* haven't done a Meet the Character or really any background for on my blog before:
*Spoiler alert if you haven't read Held Captive yet*
Catherina Ana Dorcas Rosette Winterbourne Blackstone Bennet. (Yeah, that's her name. Y'all wonder why I call her Rina.) Not only is she the heroine of my debut novel Held Captive, she's also a main character in both Prisoner at Heart and Bound and Determined. And that wasn't by chance. I'd known from Day 1 that she was going to keep growing, book by book. That growth will be taking place over a course of four full-length novels, several short stories, and probably a couple of cameo appearances in some spin-off series in the future.
Anyway, back to the intro.
Rina (as of BAD) is 31-years-old (she was born in 1655), is over six feet tall, and weighs roughly 170 lbs. She has waist-length waves of caramel brown hair, blue-green-grey eyes (the exact shade changes all the time), sun-bronzed skin, and aristocratic features.
I would love to share an inspirational photo, but luck would have it that no one looks like Rina. I've found several people who bear a feature or two (a nose on one girl, the mouth on another, etc.), but no one whose entire face and body fits my character.
However, I do have a collage that I put together for her that fits her overall aesthetic. (Please note: All the pictures featured in this post are from Pinterest. No copyright infringement is intended. If you own the copyright to one or more of these pictures and would like them taken down, please contact me on the homepage.)
So, what do y'all think? I'm a crappy designer, but I tried. Hopefully, my future attempts will be better, but for now I think this shall suffice for Rina.
#2 Explain how your MC fits into the plot of your book (as best you can without spoiling it all…).
What? No spoilers? How am I to go on?? Well, um, hehe. To be frank, none of the book would happen or exist if it weren't for Rina, so there's that. She fits in multiple places for multiple characters, I guess. For Keaton, she's his mentor, his best friend, and sometimes the person leaning on him for help. For my heroine, she's a life-saver, a captain, and a teacher. For Billy and Scarlette and Julius...hmm. Now that's the interesting role I'll keep under wraps.
As for the plot, Rina's the main gear that keeps the story turning. She ends up in the most trouble and gets other people out of it. Yeah...I definitely can't say much without spoiling everything. Let's just say that Prisoner at Heart's epilogue will play into BAD's plot tremendously!
#3 What’s the first thing your MC says in the story? The last? A random quote from the middle that you like?
Ooh...I think I'll do the first and the middle--I haven't made it to the last!
First thing Rina says: "Xavier? What’re you doing awake? I’m not ready for morning yet" (pg. 31). How profound.
One of my many favorite quotes: "Cease looking at the storm around you, the water beneath you, the sky above you. Stay your course and focus solely upon the foundation of your faith, the path upon which you step, the hand that you know will always catch you, the eyes which will forever be brimming with love" (pg. 220). Definitely much more profound, am I right?
Another favorite of mine: "But...only the manufacturer himself, only the potter, could achieve such. He could put the pieces back together in their original form, or he could make all things new. ‘Tis all up to the one who puts their self—or their teacup—into his capable hands" (pg. 388).
Rina has a lot of wisdom, which is really ironic considering who she used to be. I'm getting pretty excited about these questions, because Rina has changed and grown so much! If I answered these from Held Captive's perspective, all of the answers would be different, so from BAD's point-of-view she's much more mature and kind, really. I like seeing the growth!
#4 Which other character would die for your MC?
This is a strangely amusing question. In HC, only one (maybe two) characters would have died for Rina--Elliot. Xavier might have risked his life, but he didn't know her very well for a portion of the book. The only true friend she had, who would sacrifice himself for her, would be Elliot. Not Julius. Not even Keaton at that point.
But now? Everyone, probably. Xavier, of course. Elliot and Crimson. Keaton and Billy. Her father and mother. Stark and Charlie. Definitely Julius (even though the two get on each other's nerves more now than they ever did). Yeah, everyone but Scarlette, I'd wager.
#5 Would your MC die for them?
Let me put it like this: "Aye, Rina had risked her life for the girl and her sister, but the woman risked everything for everyone everyday. It was, I supposed, in her nature."
Keaton had just thought this the other day! (In other words, I just wrote this!)
She gives so much of herself that she developes this strong bond with everyone she meets--from Keaton to Crimson and Scarlette (Scar is so rolling her eyes at that one) to two new characters in BAD. She would definitely die for any of them--even Scarlette. Of course, she'd also give her life for her twin boys, Dick and Mav.
#6 Have any major details about your MC changed since you first created them?
Oh, my gosh, YES! Everything has changed--from her name to her voice to her character. When I first created Rina to when I started writing Held Captive (or even The Lady Pirate), a LOT changed. You can read all about it here and here. The most major details are probably her name and her story. Her appearance and personality have stayed roughly the same--but she went from a pirate searching for treasure (whose name was literally just Lady Cathrina) to a pirate searching for restoration (whose name is now seven words long).
What's interesting is that not only has Rina changed from her creation to her first chapter, she's changed throughout the last three novels. In Held Captive, she was a nightmare-plagued, coldhearted pirate with PTSD. In Prisoner at Heart, she was a struggling pregnant privateer who was still learning the ropes of her newfound faith and where she stood with her old friends and family. In Bound and Determined, I combine the cocksure girl full of confidence and Christ (who is continually imparting her wisdom to pretty much everyone) with a mother figure who rails everyone out with a weak, anxious puddle of nerves who has absolutely no idea what to do. Yeah, that's one serious oxymoron, isn't it?
In BAD, I strip her of everything--her husband, the people she can trust, the assurance of her safety, her faith, her intimacy with God, her confidence in her abilities--everything. And I'm still not done with her! She has to go through a lot of trials--and I'm talking a LOT--to grow into an even deeper relationship with God, her friends, and her family.
But I don't stop there. Book 4 will bring her to an even lower point--a point she hasn't been in since the very, very beginning. As in, the beginning you as the reader (and even me as the author) have never seen.
#7 What characters (from books/movies not by you) remind you of your MC? Why?
Okay, this is a very hard question. First of all, I'm sure that there are probably hundreds of characters who are eerily similar to Rina--I just haven't read or watched them.
I really can't think of a movie character like Rina. I mean, you have the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean, but she's not Elizabeth Swan and she's certainly not Jack Sparrow. She's not like any other female character I've ever watched--maybe more like Black Widow than anything, and that's a stretch. Carmen Sandiego (the Netflix series version) actually reminds me a wee bit of my pirate captain. Raised to steal? Yep! Turns good and steals from the bad guys? Yep! Has impeccable fashion sense? Um...that's debatable!
Book characters? Eh. I read historical romances, and there are very few female pirate captains in proper Regency romances, if you know what I mean. MaryLu Tyndall has written many pirate romances, and she's got quite a few female pirates in there--from Charlisse Merrick to Faith Westcott--but none of them are enough like Rina for me to compare them.
If I had to pick someone that reminded me of Rina, it wouldn't be a fictional character.
It would be Grace O'Malley. I think, had the two met, they would have hit it off! O'Malley was the greatest female pirate captain (I may be biased) in the history of piracy--plus, she was the Queen of Ireland. (Okay, historical note, she was noble and a politician, but she wasn't actually the queen; they just called her that.) Unlike Anne Bonny and Mary Read, Grace (or Grainne) O'Malley didn't hide her gender or run away with a pirate captain. She was (1) the captain, (2) blatantly a woman, and (3) married, and to a normal guy at that.
Unfortunately (or, well, fortunately, really), Grace O'Malley was a real person, so that kind of excludes her from the list of answers to this question. Therefore, this question remains unanswered.
Do any of y'all know of any fictional characters that remind you of Rina?
#8 Share your MC’s favorites! (Color, food, type of clothing, place, type of music, season, smell, etc.)
Okay...this one will be a little bit different than most, simply because Rina lives in the 17th century and is a pirate. But we goin' with it anyway.
Color: Green. Surprisingly, her all-time favorite color is green. Her quarters is bedecked in green--from the curtains to the rugs. That being said, she's a red girl. She looks fantastic in red and red is the aesthetic color for her character and Held Captive.
Food: Oranges and rum. Or anything, really, but hardtack and Dorian's sludge. She also enjoys a nice cup of tea.
Clothing: Breeches. And a loose-fitting shirt. With a velvet overcoat and tall Hessian boots. Not to mention an array of rings and necklaces to garnish. Oh, wait--her favorite article of clothing is definitely her tricorn. She can't live without it.
Place: The open ocean. And Port Royal, her favorite port.
Music: All of it. She likes dancing jigs to the fiddle or singing folk songs. But her favorite song? Definitely "Greensleeves." It's her dad's favorite too.
Season: Oy, I'm not sure about this one. She's not really a winter person, but not a summer person either. Probably either fall or spring.
Smell: Rum. Cinnamon. Oranges. Jamaican all-spice. She loves those exotic, spicy scents. Or just the smell of saltwater or a fresh-brewed cup of tea. Or her husband. 😆
As for any other favorites, that pretty much sums it up. She does like gold and money. And gambling. She's a regular card sharp. On that note, her favorite thing to do is win.
#9 If your MC wasn’t involved in your story, what would they be doing? (Basically: what’s their dream life? Where do they want to live, what do they want to do?)
If Rina wasn't in my story? Um, she probably wouldn't exist, then. But if I were to lay off and let her enjoy a peaceful life, she'd probably just keep on doing what's she's doing. Of course, there'd be less loss and pain and such. She would live in a beautiful house in Port Royal, raise six kids, and continue to sail the High Seas as a privateer. 'Tis a pirate's life for her, you know!
#10 Share a fun extra (another collage, a playlist, a scene from the story, a drawing, etc.).
Ooh...so, I haven't gotten my Held Captive playlist together yet, which has most of Rina's songs--but I do have Bound and Determined's and a few collages from BAD that I'd like to share.
As for Rina-specific things, I think I'll share some of my many favorite Rina moments in BAD!
This first one is for amusement purposes only. Maybe it'll make you laugh. Maybe you'll find it stupid. I never know when it comes to my strange sense of humor.
If someone called for me one more time whilst I was in the middle of something important, so help me…
I pivoted to face the source of my interruption, certain ‘twas the glower I wore that caused the young man to throw up his hands and back away a couple paces. “Aye, sir? What can I help you with?”
Perspiration dotted the boy’s brow, appearing not from the sun but from the same origin of his scattered gaze. Had I forgotten to brush my hair this morning? It could look a touch frightening if I hadn’t tied it out of my face or combed down the wild frizz the humidity produced. Perhaps he were just unused to having a woman over six feet tall glare down at him as though he were a pesky maggot.
That was probably it.
“We’re, um, we’re awaiting your orders, sir, er, ma’am, uh…”
“Captain is fine.”
I sensed Keaton’s chuckle, muffled by a strategically placed hand over his mouth, and had to stifle my own as the boy nodded aimlessly, repeating that they were awaiting my orders, only this time with an emphasized captain attached to the end.
“Thank you, lad. Mr. Clarke and I need only one more moment to discuss some imperative matters before we prepare to port. If you must, go and relay that to Mr. Blackstone, would you?”
His head bobbed again, a hint of color returning to his cheeks. “Of course, Captain. My apologies, Captain. Finish your conversation. We will…continue to await your orders. Captain.” He spun ‘round on his heel, shaking his head and muttering to himself as he stalked away.
I looked to find an outright grin pasted onto Keaton’s lips. His eyes twinkled ever so gently with mirth and amusement. It was good to see him so lively. If only I knew what would keep him in that state.
“I think he likes you.”
I snorted, dismissing his comment. “I intimidate him, is all.”
“Because he likes you.”
I peered down at my impertinent friend with narrowed eyes. “And you know the boy’s innermost secrets how?”
“I was a boy once myself, you know. I can tell when a lad carries a torch for a lass.”
“Now I know you’re joking with me, Keaton. Not only does that adolescent child not “carry a torch” for me, who is not a wee lass, but you wouldn’t know love from hate if it slapped you in the face.”
“Probably because love wouldn’t slap a person.”
And this discussion was getting me nowhere.
This scene is Rina's story of grace. I had a lot of fun writing this scene. It's both morbid and profound, I think. This is written from the POV of another character, so the "she" that is mentioned is Rina.
“You could be hanged, you know.”
Well, that’s nice to know.
I couldn’t suppress a scowl. Her allegorical skills were paling in comparison to her accomplished works of confusion. What had my runaway slave status to do with grace?
She continued, unfazed by my discomfort, if she’d even noticed it at all. “Quite easily, in fact. Word has surely gotten out about your disappearance by now, and no doubt even Cuba has heard. One misstep and—oh! You’re being carted to the gallows. But, then, you’ve never even watched a hanging, have you? Oh, wait! Of course you have—you’ve spent the last two years in Port Royal. But only from a distance, surely. Assuming your master allowed you out into the streets. Well, I’ll explain it for you anyway.
“You are jailed at first, which is true for most any crime and any punishment. Rumors swarm about who you are and what you’ve done, if you’re not as notorious as other criminals. People gleefully await the day of your hanging, which is usually determined right after your trial—assuming you get one—because people always love to see justice prevail. I don’t really think there is much wrong with that, but at times judgment leaves little room for clemency.
“Say you stay in jail for a week. In your case, that seems like a short enough period of time. Then you’re dragged, hands and feet bound like the slave that you are, across town to the gallows. The hangman awaits. The judge awaits. The prosecutor awaits. What’s more, a city full of people gawk at your muddied face and soiled clothes, swollen eyes and bleeding feet. Then you take the stair steps to the platform, are shoved directly beneath the noose, and then slowly secured within the knot. ‘Tis not too tight, not whilst you’re standing. But you know what is it come. Seconds pass like hours as you wait, dreading the final moment when the hangman releases the lever, the wood you stand on disappears, and whoosh! You are left dangling mid-air, a rough hemp knot digging into your throat, a tingling sensation beginning in your neck and traveling to your fingers, your knees, your toes.
“You are left there, swinging for hours before the last drop of life is strangled out of you. And then, within minutes, vultures and crows and flies come to feast upon your flesh. Once you’ve been picked over by the smallest of unsuspected predators, your filthy carcass is literally hauled off and thrown away. No one cares to bury you. Even if they did, why would they? You were a rotten criminal sentenced to death by hanging. You didn’t deserve the common Christian courtesy.”
Her face had remained utterly passive, her tone as smooth and cold as a glacial river, until, nearing the end, she winced, hung her head and clasped her throat as though a noose had once been closed around it and she had lived to tell it.
“That was to be my fate. Egad, it very well still could be! And much worse, I’d wager. Pirates give and receive no quarter, ‘tis true, and well I deserve it. The one who stand before another human being and willingly slaughters them, watching as their eyes roll back into their head and their body is severed entirely in half, blood streaming everywhere, and feels no drop of remorse… That person, regardless of who they were or who they are, deserves the worst punishment imaginable. I deserved the worst punishment imaginable. But Someone stepped in. A loving Father—nay, two loving fathers, in fact—extended a silver platter, upon which was inscribed Mercy, and allowed me to drink from the cup of immeasurable grace. Even if my earthly father had not secured my pardon, God’s grace would have raised my head as I faced the gallows, for I shall see Him beyond the gates of pearl and be granted His gift of eternal life. But I don’t need to remind you of this, do I?”
Now, for those other goodies I mentioned! I recently designed some collages for my novels, so here are the collages for Held Captive, Prisoner at Heart, and Bound and Determined!
HC's collage pretty much encompasses everything Rina's about: piracy, fighting, coin, and rum. Yeah, that's very moral, isn't it?
I had a lot of points to make with PAH's collage. The chains and stormy sea are Crimson; the feather quill and papers represents Rina's privateering career; the treasure, coins, and the compass all tie into the story; and the sword represents the division wrought between Rina's old life and new, and the division on her ship.
Wow. That was way more profound and deep than just slapping a few aesthetic pictures together. Didn't know I had it in me!
My colors for BAD are orange, yellow, and brown--similar to fire or a sunset. I went with a lot of pictures that fit individual elements in the story--the boots, books, compass, pots, ship, and streetlamp are not just aesthetic; they're also items present in the story. Even the harbor is there, since Rina's ports several different times. That particular picture also fits certain scenes in which characters are at the harbor during the night.
Again, not the greatest designer! I have a friend who designed from character collages for me that I'll be sharing closer to BAD's release, as well as some character collages I did (that aren't as good).
I've also put together BAD's playlist. It is extremely long (over three hours) and some songs fit the story more than others. I'll share the playlist closer to BAD's release with my commentary on some of the songs, but y'all can go ahead and check it out below!
Whew! This was a long post! I hope y'all enjoyed getting to know BAD's Rina and getting a peek at some of Bound and Determined's fun goodies! Don't forget to check out Maya Joelle's linkup! On the 30th, she'll share everyone's posts, so keep your eye out!
Excerpts from Bound and Determined: Copyright © 2021 Grace A. Johnson. All rights reserved.