Bel Watson Interview: The Art of Building Memorable Characters
She was just 16 when she started writing. Even though she fell in love with fan fiction, fantasy romances and young adult books, she started to study geology. But she quickly realized that was not the direction she wanted her life to take and she quit to study English literature. Today, the now 22-year-old Chilean author has already finished 32 books online and knows exactly what she wants to achieve.
Get to know Bel Watson, whose book “Love Race” (published originally in Spanish two years ago and is being translated to English exclusively on Widbook), was chosen as the book of the week by Widbook team. Start reading it now by clicking here.
Bel recently spoke to us from her house in Santiago, via Skype and gave important tips on how to build a remarkable character.
BEL WATSON – I don’t! I really love cars and watch the races and that inspires me to write. “Love Race” is the first one of them and takes place in New York. The other two are set in Los Angeles. But they are independent, you can read them in any order.
I read “Love Race” and noticed how strong and interesting your characters are. There is this mystery woman, who runs races and pretends she is a guy. How do you get inspiration for characters?
I read a lot of young adult books with weak female characters. I was tired of that and wanted a tough woman, brave and better than the guy, someone who would teach a lesson to the guy. So I came up with Becca, who had issues in the past and got stronger. She fought and she is really proud of it. She doesn’t run for the money, but for the wish of winning. She likes to feel better than anyone else.
Is there a woman in real life who inspires you to build these strong characters?
It’s not exactly like Becca, but I always saw my mom being really independent and tough. My dad used to work abroad so it was always my mom taking care of everything and that inspires me.
Do you use any special techniques to build these characters?
I try to analyze all the things I read and figure out how other authors build their characters. I like to watch people when I am outside drinking a coffee. I think that watching people is actually the best exercise, how they interact and how they are. I also read psychological theories to make my characters coherent, to explain their behavior. My characters change through the whole story, they are strong in the end and are exposed to a lot of challenges.
What do you think is most important in a story?
I think exactly the character is the most important because you can have a great idea, but if you have weak characters your story just won’t work. But if you have strong characters with all the elements you build around them, you can have a great story. And they have to be realistic. If these things are all there, then the book is good.
Why did you decide to start writing in English?
Here in Chile it is pretty impossible to publish the kinds of books that I write. There are more political-related or academic books published, but not many novels and romances. Taxes for music and books are the highest, around 19 percent, and not many people read. I really want to write for a living, and I know it has to be outside my country.
So what are you planning next?
After I finish my studies next year, I want to leave Chile to be able to publish my books. It could be to the United States or to England. The awarded Chilean author Isabel Allende is the best example. When she published here, it wasn’t a big success. But she went to the States and won the National Prize of Literature. She had to go away just to get noticed, for people here to appreciate her.
How can Widbook help you?
It’s a good platform, interesting and catchy. Since I began writing I posted my work online. I tried many other websites just to find one that I really like and this is the most different and one of the prettiest. I use Widbook to write and publish my original stories. It looks very professional, like a real book. You feel like you are reading a natural book, with pages and that’s refreshing. On other platforms you normally have just the page to scroll down. What I like the most is that you can preview the ebook and see it in a book format; it’s very exciting and definitely a beautiful platform!
Thank you Bel. We are happy to have you on the platform and look forward to seeing more of your books published here. Good luck!
By Gabriela Loschi