Character on the Couch: Dante from Wandering Soul

Today I’m excited to welcome Cassandra Chandler and her hero Dante to the blog. I can’t wait to read her book, which is a new riff on the Phantom of the Opera story. We share a publisher, editor, and cover artist, so it’s like we’re author sisters!

Isn’t this gorgeous?
A leap across time is easy…if you throw your heart first.

A woman with a secret…
Elsa Sinclair’s ability to bring stunning realism to her historical novels is a secret she must never reveal. She does her research first-hand—by traveling back in time.
When she stumbles across the man behind the legendary Phantom of the Opera, she is moved by his strength, his kindness…and the moments when his solitary existence seems unbearable. She can’t simply sit by and leave him to his fiery fate.
A man out of time…
Dante Lucerne is shocked to find himself pulled from certain death and carried to another time and continent. The new world is full of wonders, not the least of which is the woman who saved him. 
A darkness threatens…
As Elsa helps Dante adjust to his new world, she makes a terrifying discovery—she is falling in love. And it is Dante who must find a way to help her let go of secrets that run deeper than her power. Into the very heart of what they could lose if he fails…
Product Warnings
Contains a fiery heroine, a brilliant hero, and a love passionate enough to span a century.

1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? Yes, a court order is a valid answer.

I think Dante would be willing to visit a psychologist, but the irony there is that he needs it the least of all the characters in this series (except maybe Winston). Most likely, Dante would end up going to support Elsa if she ever dared to work on her issues with someone, and she would only go if her friends badgered her into it.

2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?

Elsa has trust issues that have clouded every relationship she’s managed to build (which isn’t many). Her friends just think she’s a control freak because she’s never opened up to them even a tiny bit about her past. They don’t realize she exists in a state of constant fear and tries to control every situation in an attempt to feel safe. Dante is the first person she lets past her guard, and even that is out of necessity. She has limited options—either bring him back to modern times or let him die in a fire. But if she brings him back with her, he’ll know about her ability to time travel. Taking the chance on rescuing Dante at the beginning of Wandering Soul, knowing that he’ll then share her secret, is the start of her journey toward learning how to trust.

3. It’s always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do?

Elsa would hover by the door so she could make a quick exit if needed. Dante would remain standing, politely waiting for you to invite him to sit, and even then he’d wait for Elsa to be comfortable enough to sit down first. His posture is so good, any time I picture him I feel compelled to sit up straighter.

CD: I am sitting up straighter just reading that. Perhaps I need to write more characters with good posture to cue me.

4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be? What will he or she say first?

Getting Elsa to talk would be extremely challenging. She’s adept at deflection, and would feel threatened by what she would perceive as someone trying to pry into her life. Dante might talk more than usual to help her not feel pressured to open up. He would have tons of questions about the field of psychology and be a delightful conversationalist. If Elsa ever thought that the conversation was making Dante uncomfortable, though, she would jump in. Her internal fearfulness and hesitation vanish when she thinks her loved ones need her help.

5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?

It would be hard to get Elsa into a bar. She and Dante would only go if they were meeting Garrett, Jazz, and Rachel for something special, like listening to live music (probably jazz). Elsa would get water and Dante would order a beer, at Garrett’s urging. They would all sit around a big table and Garrett and Jazz would work on educating Dante about their favorite type of music while Elsa quietly looked on. Jazz would try to prod Elsa to join into the conversation and Elsa would pretend to be annoyed by it, but actually be extremely happy to have Dante bonding with her surrogate family.

6. When you’re building characters, do you have any tricks you use to really get into their psyches, like a character interview or personality system (e.g., Myers-Briggs types)?

I talk to my characters in my head all the time—standing in line at the grocery store, trying to fall asleep. If I’m struggling with a scene, one of my favorite exercises is to put myself into that moment like I’m directing the story as a movie. I let my imagination run wild in a stream-of-consciousness visualization. I’ll imagine myself yelling, “Cut!” and the characters stop what they’re doing to talk things through. They’re still the same people that they are in the story, but aware that they’re fictional characters. We go over plot and character points, and I learn quite a bit about them and the story that way. It’s also a really fun exercise.

CD: Oh, that does sound fun! I may have to try it with my next book, which is in the conceptual stage at the moment.

Thank you so much for stopping by, and congratulations with your new release!

Cassandra Chandler has studied folklore and mythology for her entire life and been accused of taking fairy tales a bit too seriously. In her youth, when not reading or watching science-fiction movies, she could be found running through the wilds of Ohio and Florida. Raised in a household where tarot readings and viewing auras were considered mundane, she spends her time writing and trying to appear normal. At least the writing is working out.

Her romances range from sweet to scorching, set in extraordinary worlds and driven by characters searching for a deep and lasting love. Her sincere hope is to make her readers look twice at that knobby old tree and perhaps decide to keep salt packets within easy reach, just in case…

She has always seen the starry sky as a destination rather than a matte painting. Her primary residence is on earth, where she lives with her amazing family and a wide variety of stuffed animals, many of whom have multiple PhDs. You can follow her thoughts on writing, life and mostly writing at www.cassandra-chandler.com or see her real-time ramblings on Twitter (@casschandler). She loves to hear from readers through email at cassandrachandler15@gmail.com!

Buy Links:

Samhain
Amazon 

Just a reminder – my first urban fantasy book, The Mountain’s Shadow is currently on sale for 99 cents from all ebook retailers through tomorrow, July 24. Click here for more information and an excerpt.

You can also buy it directly from:

Samhain Publishing
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes/Apple
Kobo

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