This month, we’re talking about what we love about our characters, or about their dark side. But when it comes to Sasha from FREE VERSE, her dark side is one of the things I love about her.
In her grit-poor, fiercely proud, “coal-keeps-the-lights-on” community, Sasha deals with shadows on a regular basis. Shadows of her dead father and the others lost to the town’s main livelihood. Shadows of her absent mother, her brother, and the emotional problems plaguing her that she doesn’t understand. As hard as she tries to look up and stay bright, there is always another shadow, another dark spot to navigate, another bit of herself lost to grief and sorrow. And yet, she comes through it.
I love Sasha Harless, and I love her town, and to love these things is to love all of them, darkness included. In writing the novel, it was difficult to walk into that darkness far enough to get a feel for Sasha, and to look around and see what she saw, and to feel what she felt, and to write what she thought about all of it. As a writer, it forced me to face the shadows of my own life, and I don’t know that I did so as skillfully as Sasha. I do know that she, like anyone, had to face her darkness in order to find the light and grow towards it.