MG Ulrich – Pot stirrer, boat rocker, purveyor of fun

There has to be one in every group (or at least any group worth belonging to).  She’s the one who looks for trouble (otherwise known as fun) then grabs a few friends and brings them along for the ride.  In “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story” that girl is MG Ulrich.  

Although not based on any one specific person, I knew MG in high school.  These were girls who were pied pipers, leading willing followers astray. They either knew where the great parties were, or they created one.  They were unpredictable, creative and usually lucky in life.  All MG traits.  

The fact that MG has never used her given name gives some insight into her personality.  She is her own person and creates the world the way she wants it to be. Her style changes with her whims. She lives in the present and doesn’t let things like not knowing her father or other negatives in her past effect her. She also gives little thought to her future. With no specific plans she is happy to tag along on her mom’s dreams and just see where life takes her.  

Her friends are her family, and that includes her mom. Only seventeen years apart, they are more friends than parent and child.  This gives her too much freedom, but it also develops her sense of self-sufficiency. She may not do it in a traditional (or safe) way, but MG can take care of herself and others.  She is a cheerleader (sometimes literally) for her friends. 

People are drawn to her good looks and energetic personality and she gets a lot of perks in life. She is aware of her windfall and loves to share it with her friends. 

She may not know where she wants to go in her future, but she knows what she doesn’t want. Like her mother she loves luxury and a very comfortable life. Anything that might keep her from that life is ruled out, including love. At seventeen she sees obvious and attainable benefits in material gratification and love as a dangerous distraction. 

Although her fate is hinted at in “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks”, the details of her story and that of her friend/boyfriend/lover Steve won’t be known ’til book two, “Popstars, Friends & Lovers” – October 2014.  

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Carrie is Complex (but don’t tell her you know)

Actress Sarah Bolger would make a great Carrie* 

Like so much in “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story” Carrie Gould is average and plain on the surface.  She is average looking, has average grades and comes from an typical suburban family.  That’s the way the world sees her and she likes it that way.  But only because she has to work to keep up the appearance of average, typical and normal.

Carrie was one of the most complex characters that I created and I was tempted to tell the story in first person from her point of view because she keeps so much of who she really is under wraps.  In the end it was more challenging and a better story to let her conflicted, complex self come through in her actions (and sometimes her thoughts).  

Her struggles mainly come from her home life.  Her mother has strong narcissistic tendencies and her father is emotionally disconnected.  That combination of personalities plus her parent’s odd, but lasting marriage creates a world for Carrie that is internally dysfunctional yet easily appears unblemished to outsiders.  Her scars are all internal, invisible to everyone.

The conflict between her outward appearance and internal struggles are played out in her social life.  Only those who know her well understand why she feels more connected to the burnout kids.  Although her family is physically intact, it is emotionally just as broken as the kids who are missing parents and their support.

Her conflict is further complicated (and hidden) by the fact that she is generally a happy person and spends a lot of time laughing with her friends.  As is often the case with kids from broken or damaged homes, Carrie’s friends replace what is missing in her life.  They give her the pep talks and support she doesn’t get at home.  

Carrie’s personality was also created as the perfect contrast to Ben’s.  She’s as impulsive as he is regimented.  She pushes him to lighten up and he gives her stability.  He is the Yin to her Yang; together making each a better person. 

The final elements I added to her character was the internal strength that emerges when life puts her to the test through her marriage.  The silver lining to having grown up in an unstable home is her ability to handle chaos and keep working when everything is falling apart around her.  

I get more compliments on Carrie than any other character.  She is the most relatable and readers tell me they feel like they knew her in high school.  Which is a huge compliment to me.  It feels great to have created such a complex, yet real, character.

*Note* I did an interview that will appear on the Pretty Little Pages blog.  I was asked to choose actors who could play each character.  See all my choices on June 2nd.