You know when you are watching a film, reading a book or watching something on television and a character suddenly reminds you of someone? They have the same accent, their hair is styled the same, they have similar facial features or they have the same habit of checking their reflection as they walk past parked cars and shop windows and for a split second, or repeatedly throughout the show/film/book, you think They’re just like Boris or whoever.
I have that issue with a character in one of my favourite book trilogies. Except that I sometimes forget when I’m reading that the person I’m reading about is not, in fact, Liberty.
I am currently powering my way through Blackout which is book three of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh Trilogy. It has been sat on my shelf for months and I have twitched towards it many a time but put it off, partly because I was using it as a reward if I read a few other books I had been avoiding and partly because I knew that if I read it then everything would be over.
I hate that about finishing any good book but particularly when finishing a series – you find yourself mourning the loss of the characters you have spent so much time with. It takes a lot of energy to read a really good book – you invest a lot of emotion and time into the story and are so often right in the character’s minds that for a while you forget that they aren’t real and are surprised when they don’t wander into the kitchen when you’re getting yourself a drink. When you finish a book it’s like they’ve died, even if they actually had a really happy ending. You aren’t spending time with them any more, you don’t know what they’re doing or thinking, you’re in a totally different universe to them and you’re bereft of their company. For me, that feeling is the sign of a really excellent piece of writing, and creating a character with that depth is something I aspire to do with every story I write down.
There are two main characters in the Newsflesh Trilogy, Shaun and Georgia Mason.
Georgia Mason is my best friend.
Georgia was born and raised in a post-apocalyptic not-too-distant future where zombies are a simple fact of every day life. They happen.
Liberty Gilmore was born 24 years ago in this reality we all know. Zombies do not happen.
These are ways in which the two of them are different. There are many ways in which they are the same.
Let’s begin with the obvious, easy to spot similarities: Both of them have dark hair and dark eyes. Liberty wears glasses so that she isn’t blind to the world, Georgia wears sunglasses so that the world doesn’t blind her. Ergo, they both wear glasses.
Another fundamental similarity is that they are both writers. Writing is a basic part of their existence – take it away and they would still be living and breathing but after a fairly short period of time they’d both probably go a bit loopy and start chewing people in an attempt to get their hands on a keyboard and computer or pen and paper.
Georgia is a blogger – specifically a ‘Newsie’. A journalist. She writes down the news in a blunt, matter of fact way for the world to read on the internet. She doesn’t paint things with flowers or exaggerate, she just writes what she sees and knows to be true. She writes.
Liberty is a blogger – mostly a book one. She doesn’t blog as a profession but she blogs about things she loves and things that matter to her. Mostly she blogs about books, her writing and her life.
Liberty writes. Okay so instead of writing world-changing news reports she writes new worlds in novels and short stories and her non-fiction reports are usually about her latest failure in the kitchen or the plasticine slug her little brother made for her, but she writes.
They write because they don’t know how to do anything else to make them feel ‘normal’. They are writers.
Both of them are stubborn and strong-willed. They know when they are right and will stand there and glare at you until you know it too (or at least concede to their idea, even if you know it’s wrong).
They are anti-social and don’t give a damn about it and hate when random people try to be chummy with them. Their preferred reaction to chumminess is usually a strong desire to punch which is forcefully resisted and replaced with more polite but strained ‘get off me now before I hurt you’ responses.
They are fiercely loyal and protective over things and people that they love and care about.
That filter that stops you saying the first thing that comes into your head? Yeah, theirs are broken. They’ll probably insult/upset you at some point. They might not even realise they’ve done it either. Social skills are not their forte.
They swear. Often at inappropriate times or in front of people they shouldn’t. It’s probably something to do with the above point.
So you see, there are plenty of things to remind me of Liberty when I’m reading about Georgia.
Of course there are differences – Liberty is not dead, a clone nor is she in love with her brother (she does love her brother but not ‘like that’. For a start, Liberty’s brother is only two.)
Also, if there were to be a zombie apocalypse, unlike Georgia, Liberty would probably be found with me in the bottom of a wardrobe somewhere, hiding under a duvet bemoaning the fact that we didn’t bring chocolate and the only defensive weapons we have between us are plastic coat-hangers. We are not brave and we neither have access to, nor the skill sets to use firearms.
We do sometimes shoot zombies together but they are the computer animated type and if we suck all that happens is we have to start the level again. We can deal with that.
Liberty is not Georgia Mason entirely, but I do sort of think that if Georgia Mason had been born in a world where zombies were fictional fantasies and life was easier she just might, might have been called Liberty Gilmore. (And that would have fixed the incest issues because she wouldn’t be adopted and her brother would be a two year old…)