Monday, August 6, 2012

Character Profile: Leila Phillips

You may have noticed that I don’t give many character descriptions in my writing. Flip through the pages of ON FALLEN WINGS and you won’t find explicit details about what someone looks like, exactly what they’re wearing, their favorite color, etc. In fact, I’m absolutely vague in some cases. I’m of the mindset that the character’s appearance should be created by the mind of the reader, and not spelled out by the author. While doing this, I’m hoping that the reader can associate the character’s personality with someone they’ve met or known in the past. Images based on their own memories will flash in their minds while they enjoy the passages of my tales.

With that said, I want to spend a handful of posts discussing a few characters and how I imagine them. Today I’m starting with Leila Phillips, by far the most popular character in ON FALLEN WINGS—even though she’s not the protagonist.

Everyone loves Leila. She’s such a likeable character that I chose to introduce her on page one of ON FALLEN WINGS. It’s her desire to experience love that introduces the reader to Rhiannon’s world. Leila is twelve years old, dainty, and has the same straight dark hair as her mother. Leila has grown up under the shadow of her older sister, whose membership in the Fae has been an honor for the Phillips family. Because of this, Leila doesn’t get much attention, so she goes looking for it. Her natural reaction is to flirt with the boys in the village. This is somewhat evident in ON FALLEN WINGS, but will be more pronounced in FROM RISING FLAMES. It’s not a bad thing, but will lead to some trouble down the road.

As the second child, Leila also has avoided the weight of responsibility pushed onto Rhiannon. Leila is happier, flightier, a little bit scatterbrained, and definitely more carefree than her older sister. This causes some tension between the two, but it’s nothing more than sibling rivalry. Leila admires Rhiannon and, like most girls in Aisling, wishes to become a faerie like her someday. Whenever she can, Leila will avoid working and find a place to play instead. She’s as curious as a cat and a bit of a tease.

Leila sees the love between Rhiannon and Sean and wants to have that same type of relationship. She’s been raised with the love and protection of her parents and has never known anything bad in her life. When the trouble surrounding Rhiannon happens, this takes a toll on her, as she is not equipped to deal with the tragedy. You don’t see it since ON FALLEN WINGS is told through Rhiannon’s eyes, but Leila’s view of a perfect world becomes cracked. While trying to understand what’s going on, she leans toward her friend Michael Dunn for support. At the end of ON FALLEN WINGS, a romance between Leila and Michael begins to blossom. Using a phrase from Fiddler on the Roof, “it’s a good match.” Everyone agrees that Michael and Leila are good for each other. Remember that Leila likes to flirt, though. Hint, hint.

One last point about Leila. When I first created Aisling and the world around it, I imagined her as the heroine, not Rhiannon. She was more likeable and definitely the type of person most people would cheer for. While my story has shifted to Rhiannon’s tale, Leila still plays a prominent role throughout the series and her interactions and relationships will become the catalysts for quite a bit of tension—and even some conflict—later on.

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