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Thursday, February 2, 2017

GUEST BLOG: Shades of Grey - Developing Unique Characters That are a Blend of Evil and Good by Fonda Lee (Author of EXO)

Fantasy Book Critic is honored to take part in the blog tour (arranged by Rockstar Book Tours) for the recently released YA novel EXO by Fonda Lee. EXO was published by Scholastic and it was released January 31, 2017. It is available as hardcover, paperback, and ebook at these fine retailers AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoodreads.

Today as part of the blog tour, we have the honor of having Fonda Lee join us for a guest blog post. We asked her to talk about creating what we call 'shades of grey' characters. Shades of grey characters are those that aren't 100% good or 100% evil.

Join us in welcoming Fonda Lee and learning more about her book EXO! There is even a giveaway for the book blog tour available to enter – entry can be done by filling in the form at the bottom of the post. 

If you wish to see other guest blog posts, reviews, and more about EXO visit some of the other blog tour stops!

Week One:
1/23/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Interview
1/24/2017- Bibliobibuli YAReview
1/25/2017- Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt
1/26/2017- The Forest of Words and PagesReview
1/27/2017- Novel NoviceExcerpt

Week Two:
1/30/2017- Omg Books and More BooksReview
1/31/2017- Rich in ColorInterview
2/1/2017- NerdophilesReview
2/2/2017-Fantasy Book CriticGuest Post
2/3/2017- Such a Novel IdeaReview

  Shades of Grey - Developing Unique Characters That are a Blend of Evil and Good 

One of the early trade reviews that I received for my new young adult science fiction novel, Exo, made mention of the fact that the characters don’t always behave in ways that are admirable or easy to read, but they are reacting logically within the setting and the rules of the world.

I consider this to be a major compliment. I’ve never been inclined to write wholly good heroes or wholly evil villains. There’s no shortage of stories about good guys vs. bad guys, especially in YA fiction, which is packed full of courageous rebels and foul tyrants. Personally, I’m far more interested in writing stories that reflect truths about our own world…and those truths are rarely so simple.  

I was a nerd in high school. In fact, I was the captain of the debate team. I would spend months preparing for a tournament on some topic such as, “Be it resolved that marijuana be legalized.” I’d sit for hours in the library with my equally nerdy debate team members, researching until our eyes ached, and then writing index card after index card of arguments both for and against contentious topics. The truth is, I loved that process. I loved digging into a complex issue and understanding all the sides of it until I could argue equally convincingly for or against it. By the end, I often didn’t know what the “right” answer was… and more importantly, I understood that there was rarely a “right” answer.

So I write books for those teens: the ones that question the world, the ones that suspect that so much of what adults tell you is a matter of perspective, that sometimes the more you know, the less certain you become, and that the uncertainty is a good thing, a way to be certain that your mind is still open.

In Exo, I wanted to get past the usual tropes of invasion and war and explore Earth long after the extraterrestrials have settled alongside us, when alien presence and influence are the norm and human society has been reshaped along new lines of class and privilege. It would be easy to write the expected story: the one about a brave teenage freedom fighter who fights against the alien overlords. Or the one about someone on the “wrong side” who meets the rebels and then switches over and turns “good.”

This is not that story. There are no “good guys” and “bad guys” to be found here—only people, all of them doing what they believe is the right thing, based on their worldview and the circumstances of their lives and experiences. And that means they hold certain opinions, they say and do things that some readers will not agree with, they make decisions that are well intentioned but still questionable.

In short, they’re like real people. And no matter how fantastical or futuristic the world, no matter the presence of magic or starships, people being people is what makes a story ring true.

About Fonda:
Fonda Lee writes science fiction and fantasy for teens and adults. Her debut novel, Zeroboxer was an Andre Norton Award finalist, Jr. Library Guild Selection, ALA Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, Oregon Book Award finalist, and Oregon Spirit Book Award winner. Her second novel, Exo, releases from Scholastic in February 2017.

Fonda wrote her first novel, about a dragon on a quest for a magic pendant, in fifth grade during the long bus ride to and from school each day. Many years later, she cast her high school classmates as characters in her second novel, a pulpy superhero saga co-written with a friend by passing a graphing calculator back and forth during biology class. Fortunately, both of these experiments are lost to the world forever.
Fonda is a former corporate strategist who has worked for or advised a number of Fortune 500 companies. She holds black belts in karate and kung fu, goes mad for smart action movies (think The Matrix, Inception, and Minority Report) and is an Eggs Benedict enthusiast. Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, she currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

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 About EXO 

It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.

When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip. But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one . . .


Unknown said...

I really like what you say about "shades of grey" characters. I too like and try to create complex characters.

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