I am so very excited to welcome author Cecilia Tan and her character Timothy Frost to the couch today. Timothy is a character in her Tales from the Magic University series, which is definitely on my TBR list. She reveals what makes Timothy tick and talks about the series below.
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 imagine Master Brandish probably *did* send Timothy Frost to a psychologist after the events of Magic University: The Tower and the Tears, and probably she had to threaten him with expulsion or academic probation to force him to go. I imagine the conversation went something like this:
Brandish: If you won’t tell me what happened between you and Kyle, you have to talk to *someone* about it.
Frost: Do I? If it’s against the law to keep secrets you’d best lock me away now and throw away the key.
Brandish: (pained) You know that isn’t what I mean. In fact, that’s the point. Talk to someone impartial, who’ll keep your secrets as a professional.
Frost: A professional what?
Brandish: Psychologist. Here. I’ve got just the one right here in my contacts.
CD: Note to self – Get in Brandish’s Rolodex.
Frost: (sneering) You can’t make me.
Brandish: As your house master, I most certainly can.
2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?
Frost’s hangups are definitely central to the book series and the unfolding quest for true love. Our hero, Kyle, has fallen in love with him, a consequence of some very powerful sex magic that the two of them worked together in book two. Frost refuses to speak to him, though, because he fears intimacy. Frost has many secrets, about both his past and his prophesied future, and although he’s actually powerfully attracted to Kyle, too, he thinks the only way to keep himself safe is to keep Kyle out of his life. In SPELLBINDING, there are a few short stories about Frost that tell the reader Frost’s secrets, but he’s still trying to keep them from Kyle! Among them: Frost was born female but was magically transformed male at age 10, and before that was sexually abused by his uncle.
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?
Frost would slink in like a feral cat, cautious and silent, eyes scanning everywhere, and then once he’s sussed out the room, stride haughtily to chair, sit, and stare down his nose at you. He’d barely move a muscle once he was sitting down, though, holding himself very rigid, very controlled.
4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be? What will he or she say first?
I would say he is not very open, and yet some of his wounds are so glaringly obvious that even when he tries to hide what he’s feeling, he won’t completely succeed. I find it not unlikely that as the therapists asked questions he might lie outrageously and make up stories, though, spinning fabrications that probably tell the therapist plenty about him, but still avoiding the things he holds close to the vest. If the therapist asked him why he was there or what he was there to talk about, here’s the answer you’d get:
“Did Brandish tell you anything about me? Only that if I don’t do this I’ll never graduate? Fine. This all goes back to what happened between me and Michael sophomore year. Michael has a streak of sirenic blood, which give him incredible telepathic powers while he’s having sex. Best sex of your life, really. It becomes an addiction. But he was addicted to me, too, to feeding off my sexual energy. Sirens can be ravenous, though, and he went into a feeding frenzy of a sort, leaving me in a coma and effectively ending our relationship in the worst possible way. I’ve already been through magical addiction rehab. Perhaps you’d care to pick up the pieces from the psychology angle? Not that there are any pieces left of my shattered heart big enough to pick up without tweezers.”
CD: Note to self – Stay out of Brandish’s Rolodex. Don’t have competency in magic injury recovery.
5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?
Hm, if this was right after The Tower and the Tears, Frost’s still only 20 and therefore not old enough to drink alcohol. So he goes into The Russell House Tavern, gets an isolated corner table in the dimly lit downstairs dining room, orders a cup of hot tea, and then cries into the crook of his arm for fifteen straight minutes. He never remembers to take the tea bag out of the hot water.
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)?
When characters come to me, they pop fully formed out of my head and the way I dig into their psyches to find out more details is by writing the novel they are part of. A complex character like Frost also inspired several short stories and I’m so blessed my publisher went along with my idea of having a short story collection be part of the Magic University series. Sometimes I later take the Myers-Briggs as my character, or I do associative storytelling using Tarot cards. Frost is an INFJ in the Myers Briggs system: strongly altruistic but also highly sensitive to criticism and deeply private. He has a secret crusade and he will let no one dissuade him from it.
CD: I do that, too! And INFJ is my personality type. I can relate.
Thank you so much for being here! This new addition to your series sounds absolutely fascinating and with something for everyone.
Cecilia Tan is the recipient of the 2014 Pioneer Award and the Career Achievement Award in Erotica/Erotic Romance given by RT Magazine. She is not only the author of the Magic University series, but also Slow Surrender, The Prince’s Boy, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, The Hot Streak, Mind Games, and many other books and stories. Susie Bright called her “simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature.” Tan was inducted into the Hall of Fame for GLBT writers at the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in 2010. She and her partner corwin (and their three cats) live in Cambridge.
If you’re a published author who would like to send a character over to my couch for a profile or an unpublished one who’s struggling with a character and who would like help from a psychological perspective, please fill out the contact form to the right.