meet the character

Meet Holun: A Character Profile from The Secret of the Codex

Do you ever read a book and fall in love with a character?

Okay, if you've ever read a book AT ALL you probably have. Great character writing allows us to visualize the characters so much that we feel we actually know them. Sometimes they feel as real to us as actual people.

Writing is very similar! I love all of my characters, though for different reasons. They are multi-faceted, complicated creatures that I wish I could say were all of my own making.

Stick with me here.

For me, I created the characters, yes. I gave them names, fleshed out their personalities...but then something amazing happened. They became so clear in my head that they were just like real people. They took on their own personalities and showed me a depth to their "personhood" that I didn't consciously create.

And here's the best part: They started to tell me the story.

No, really. Once the characters were real in my head, I just had to listen to them tell the story. They told me what happened in each scene as I described it through their eyes.

Maybe that sounds a little, er, metaphysical, maybe, or... SUPERNATURAL. Yup. That's the word. :) (You know, because The Secret of the Codex is an archaeological supernatural thriller. See what I did there?)

But it totally happened. The scene in which I remember this happening the most clearly was a scene where people had died. I knew that someone had died, but I didn't actually know who until the character took me through the scene and showed me who exactly what had happened, what exactly they saw.

It's crazy, I know. But we writers can be a little crazy sometimes. It's part of our charm. :)

Enter Holun.

This kid is amazing. I just love him so much.When we first meet him in The Secret of the Codex, he's a relatively scrawny kid, one of the youngest soldiers in the Clan. (The Clan is the name of the small contingent of people determined to keep the Secret from being revealed to the world.) At first, Na-um, our main antagonist, doesn't see much potential in him and almost sends him home.

But then he discovers that Holun seems to have a little something extra to offer the Clan's army, something no one else possesses...

Holun...opened his eyes just as the other boy lurched toward him to attack. Right before the other recruit could touch him, he jumped to the side, just out of reach. The older boy fell to the ground, stumbling as he missed his mark. Holun seized the opportunity, kneeling on his attacker and restraining him.

Na-um’s mouth dropped open slightly. The youngest of their soldiers had won the fight despite the other boy’s disproportionate advantage; Na-um was impressed.

Meet Holun (at least a good inspo pic for him)

Holun-with-Green-Hat.jpg

Isn't this kid adorable?

That's totally Holun — an easy-going, adorable kid who finds himself as part of the army of a ruthless Clan. Eventually, he even becomes Na-um's second-in-command, despite his age.

This kid is super conflicted throughout the book. How does he reconcile what his leader, Na-um, is telling him about the Secret and the people trying to uncover it and what his heart is telling him is right? And what does he do once he figures it out?

Poor kid.

Seriously — most of the time I just wanted to reach into the pages and give him a hug. No kid that young should ever have to go through all that! But, you know, it's not TOTALLY my fault, right? (see above) hahaha

Okay, yes, it's completely my fault. :D But I'm okay with that.

Because Holun's story is so often similar to our own. What we know to be true — what we were taught was true as children — doesn't always continue to make sense into adulthood. It doesn't always have to be something significant — it can be little things we question, like if we actually like broccoli — but those questions and re-evaluations of "what we know" are an important part of growing up.

I guess you could say that, in The Secret of the Codex, Holun grows up.

Meet Justin: A Character Profile from The Secret of the Codex

Up next in the character profile series is everyone's favorite extrovert, Justin Stanford! He was really fun to write, though he even got on my nerves a little at times! Just kidding.

Kind of.

Meet Justin Stanford — Summed Up in One Sentence (and Then Some Commentary)

Justin's the kind of guy who can lighten up any mood and tell a joke at the drop of a hat, but also has a sensitive side he rarely lets anyone see and can find his way out of even the most difficult situations. It's a gift.

This guy is awesome.

Ready for a couple of inspo pics?

Justin Stanford Inspo Pic #1 (the pensive one)

Justin-Close-Up-Image.jpg

Justin Stanford Inspo Pic #2 (the intense, possibly slightly scary one)

Justin-Close-Up-Image-2.jpg

This guy actually looks pretty close to how I imagined Justin, though the Justin in my head was a little more relaxed. That second pic is a little intense! Hahaha! I suppose if someone messed with Mandy, they'd see this look.

Speaking of which... 

His Relationship with Mandy

Justin and Mandy have been dating for three years (at the start of the book) and he really loves her, though sometimes he struggles to actually show it. He figures she knows it, right? But he learns to open up a little throughout the book. Character arc and all that.

In The Secret of the Codex, Justin is hit with a lot. Like A LOT. But the guy somehow finds a way to keep a positive attitude and finish what he started. All while taking care of Mandy and helping the others on their quest.

While his jovial personality and uncanny ability to find a joke to fit every situation annoy Mandy at times, she loves that he can make her smile. They're a close second for my favorite OTP (One True Pairing) in the book. (You know I have to give the top spot to Kayla and Grady.) These two are adorable.

Since the three chapter preview on the website (sign up here for your copy before the book comes out on August 28th!) doesn't let you meet Justin, I thought I'd drop in a pretty great excerpt featuring him and Mandy. I think it shows his personality off pretty well.

Enjoy!

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Book Excerpt — Justin and Mandy

“Justin, for the thousandth time, will you please tell me where we’re going?” Mandy threw the red dress she’d discarded for the light blue one she was wearing in her suitcase, then crossed her arms and stared directly at Justin and his army-green duffel bag sitting barely packed on the bed. She was getting sick of this stalling. Out with it already.

But Justin was clearly enjoying himself. He grinned as he pulled on a dark red v-neck over his light khakis. “Nope.”

Mandy playfully punched his arm, quickly regretting it. She was still quite sore from the fight in her room yesterday. “Come on, tell me! I can’t be the only one in the dark.” She stuck out her lower lip.

Justin simply grinned too widely in her direction. She threw a pillow at his head. He ducked, deftly avoiding the flying projectile.

“You know that’s not fair.” She began cramming clothes in her bag, throwing her belongings a little too harshly into her suitcase.

Justin shrugged as he grabbed a waded up a pair of khakis and stuffed them in his bag. “Life’s not fair.”

“Ugh! You can be so aggravating sometimes.”

“You know you love me.” Justin strolled around the bed and hugged her from behind. She shrugged him off, choosing instead to stomp toward the bathroom.

Grrr! That man is insufferable sometimes, Mandy thought as she put both hands on the counter and stared at her reflection in the mirror. The bruises were worse today—though not as bad as she supposed they should have been; they appeared to already be healing—so she dabbed some concealer on her cheek and under her eye until she could barely make them out.

Then Mandy sighed. I wish there was a way to make him tell me. Then she had a thought. Worth a try . . . She grinned, started filling her toiletry bag with just about everything on the counter, then called out, “It’s okay, I’ll find out eventually. Kayla will tell me.” She threw her toothpaste into the small bag then froze, waiting for Justin’s response.

He was at the door immediately. “No! Don’t do that. I want to surprise you.”

Mandy turned to look at him, cocking her head to one side. She hadn’t been sure that would work. “Surprise me? That doesn’t sound good. Tell me.”

Justin paused for a brief moment, then walked back into the main room. Mandy grabbed her packed toiletry bag and followed him to the bed, sitting down next to him. She threw the bag into her suitcase then grabbed his hand, staring into his eyes. “Come on. You know I hate surprises.”

Justin sighed. Finally, Mandy thought.

“So you know I’m not from Florida,” he began.

Mandy nodded but stayed quiet.

“I grew up in Montana, near Yellowstone.”

Mandy blinked. “And?”

Justin stared at her pointedly, waiting.

Then, suddenly, she got it. She grinned. “We’re going to Yellowstone!”

Justin smiled at her. “Yes, but . . .”

“But what?”

He hesitated. “Well . . . we’ve been together for a few years now.”

“Yeah . . .”

“And we’re pretty serious, right?”

Mandy raised an eyebrow. “What’s this about, Justin?”

Justin took a deep breath. “You wanna meet my parents?”

Mandy shoved his arm. “You were going to just surprise me with this? You were just going to let me go into that blind?”

“I don’t know. I just . . . I guess I didn’t really want to find out what you thought, in case you didn’t want to.”

She smiled at him, a smile she could tell reached her eyes in spite of the pain in her cheek. “Of course I’ll meet them. But only if you want me to.”

Justin shrugged. “Sure.”

Mandy leaned over and kissed him. “Don’t worry. People love me.”

“Right,” Justin mumbled sarcastically, kissing her cheek lightly before they both turned to finish packing.

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What'd you think? Does Justin sound like someone you'd like to spend a little bit of time with? He certainly keeps things interesting! 

In Other News...

  1. The Kickstarter ends tomorrow!! There's still time for you to pledge and get your autographed copy and maybe some extras, too! Check out the Kickstarter page here! There are some extras on there that may not be available after tomorrow, so be sure to check it out so you don't miss it! bit.ly/secretcodex

  2. Oh, and don't forget — we're only a little over TWO WEEKS away from the book launch on August 28th! It's getting so close! I'm so excited to be able to finally share my story with the world. As you probably know, it took me a full decade to finally realize this dream, and I can't believe I'm only 15 short days away! Ahhh! It's really surreal. And guess what? I'm finally getting listings on some awesome sites! Check out the Amazon page for The Secret of the Codex and the Goodreads page! I'd love for you to add the book to your To Read shelf on Goodreads if you're on there.

  3. My book website is LIVE! Check it out at thesecretofthecodex.com — I think it's pretty cool!

  4. I'd love to hear from you and answer all your questions! I'm thinking about gathering some questions from all of you and doing an "Ask the Author" post later on, so I'd like to hear everything you'd like to know! Email me at melissa@melissafrey.com to ask away.