A character that is hard to like…at first
Guest Post by Eleanor T Beaty
When you first meet Hanna Williams, the main character in Veiled Mist, you might not fall in love with her. You might even give off a groan as the story opens because Hanna starts off as a snob, mean even, shallow and futile. In other words, she’s a typical high class teen. But Hanna is a bright diamond…in the rough.
Many wonder why have a main character that is difficult to love? Because I think we tend to allow a first impression to form our opinion of people and we shouldn’t. I have done so many times and from that bad habit I learned people have layers.
The first impression: Hanna’s a spoiled, insufferable brat. The final impression: well… I will leave that up to you.
Through Hanna I tried to show her not so glamorous traits by using a twist of sarcasm, not intending to be preachy. I think it’s sad when shallowness and selfish behaviors are valued personality traits, so I showed them with humor. The fact that Hanna thought sleeping in a sequined gown would guarantee she would not be the gypsy from her dreams was comical and outrageous. In her mind if she slept like a princess, she was one!
Hanna represents many of us, not for her high class origin, but for the normal tendency we had as teens to not care about anyone or anything but ourselves. So what if the ice is melting in the North Pole? I mean, come on, it’s only ice, and like the fridge, new cubes will replace the ones I used in my ice tea. Let’s not get started on those white bears. What difference do they make? How does mankind benefit with their existence? We can always find a home for them in a Zoo. We could even add some color to their new home. White is boring.
And because she is a normal teen, writing as Hanna was not easy for me. I started off using a close relative as a muse and found myself staring at my own behavior at that age. Gosh, it was so long ago I had forgotten about that. It took a few uncomfortable moments to reconcile who I am now with who I was. It was a painful growth process. Unfortunately I didn’t have the help of such a crazy and determined mentor like Ornella! I wish I had.
Through Hanna I was able to make fun of myself, which was comforting as it showed I had grown. When Hanna decided to spend the last year of her life in a self imposed spiritual retreat, she tested turning inwards, looking into her soul, and found there was an empty space. She realized that if she spent a year staring at that empty space she would die of boredom. She tried to list what she had accomplished until that moment and came up empty, with the exception of finding out she was her family’s shameful secret. She couldn’t write her Eulogy. Or she could but it wouldn’t be longer than a paragraph, if that, and all she could do was list her physical attributes.
At that moment she had found a mirror and what she saw made her uncomfortable. And you think, ok, here she goes, turning point. Wrong. Still Hanna doesn’t want to walk the path of change. She wants things to remain as they were, and continue to live life in a comfortable oblivion. Don’t we all, because change can be hard.
Then came the best part as a writer and human; turning the table on Hanna. The change was forced by Ornella, using Hanna’s own worst fears against her. Watching her react, fighting to stay the same, provoked mixed feelings. To the bitter end she resists, but loses the battle because those who love her, the people who know the real Hanna, weren’t willing to give up on her.
Hanna is special even though she doesn’t know it. She has a quirky personality and the most unexpected reactions. She’s annoying and she’s unique. Her logic is flawed and she doesn’t want to look reality in the face, but you can’t help but hope she’ll change. When Ornella, the six-hundred year old gypsy, and her mutt, Count Dracula come into Hanna’s life, one wonders who has the strongest will. A tough call. When reason doesn’t work, Ornella turns to very unconventional methods to convince Hanna she must embrace her mystical path in order to save not only herself but the entire gypsy tribe. Ornella and the Count find that changing Hanna is not a battle but a war they must fight and win to survive.
So what I wonder is, will you come to love Hanna as the story progresses? Will you cheer her on? Or will you prefer another character by the end of the novel?