Thanks to Maya Joelle of mayajt.wordpress.com for this fun Main Character challenge! It’s not to late to participate. Just follow the link to her blog to see the challenge and introduce one of your own main (or mainish) characters.
1 // Introduce your MC. What’s their name? Age? Appearance? (Sharing collages/inspiration photos encouraged!)
Today I’m introducing Dunya, because she’s a main character from my most recently-published book, and she happens to be one of my favorites. Dunya’s a Tur woman from the capital city of Dor in Sevia. She’s twenty eight years old, the middle child and only girl in a family of three. She likes dyeing her hair—current color is pink. Like her brothers, Dunya’s a tattoo artist, and she has large flower designs tattooed on her shoulders and upper arms. She’s also a member of the Tur gang, Rayad, and the self-appointed mother of an orphan baby boy. For various reasons, not least of which being the tattoos, the pink hair, and the fictional ethnicity (think a blend of Turkish and Southeast European) I struggled to find a picture that represented Dunya well, but the one above is a little bit like her.
2 // Explain how your MC fits into the plot of your book (as best you can without spoiling it all…)
The story is a romance, and Dunya is the love interest/heroine. When she’s evacuated from her home and sent to a refugee camp, she runs into Radoslav, a young man she would never even have met otherwise. What follows is both funny and tragic…
3 // What’s the first thing your MC says in the story? The last? A random quote from the middle that you like?
Dunya’s first line is “Erkan, where are you?” (Erkan is her older brother.) I can’t share her last line, because that would give away a key point in the story, but her almost-last line is, “I’m not finished…” Indeed she is not.
4 // Which other character would die for your MC?
Radoslav, the interpreter Dunya meets while being evacuated, would give his life for her. So would her brother, Erkan, if he was sober.
5 // Would your MC die for them?
Erkan, yes. Radoslav, no—at least not in this story.
6 // Have any major details about your MC changed since you first created them?
Way back when I was writing the rough draft of the book where Dunya makes her first appearance (as a minor character) I imagined her a widow. That changed pretty quickly, however. As I got to know her better, I realized that she’d never been married at all.
7 // What characters (from books/movies not by you) remind you of your MC? Why?
That’s a great question. Dunya was based in part off a real-life friend, but no book or movie characters like her come readily to mind.
8 // Share your MC’s favorites!
Dunya’s favorite color is pink. She loves cute clothes, and tries to be stylish even under less than ideal circumstances. Besides her family, the thing she loves most is her cat, Coco. His disappearance plays a key role in her love story, in fact.
9 // If your MC wasn’t involved in your story, what would they be doing? (Basically: what’s their dream life? Where do they want to live, what do they want to do?)
If I hadn’t ruined her life and thrown her into the middle of a war and then into a refugee camp, Dunya would probably be married, with one or two kids of her own. She’d probably do tattoo art or something similar on the side.
10 // Share a fun extra (another collage, a playlist, a scene from the story, a drawing, etc.).
Radoslav and Dunya meet for the first time in this short scene:
“Erkan,” called a woman’s voice. “Erkan, where are you?”
The sound brought Radoslav back to the present.
Someone was hurrying up the sidewalk toward the building. As his eyes adjusted to the sunlight, the bright blur solidified into a young woman with wide-set eyes and a nose that turned up at the tip. Pale skin showed through the holes in her stylish jeans. She stopped, plucked the end of a cigarette from between her lips, tossed it to the ground and put her foot on it. She was not beautiful, but he wanted to keep looking at her because her face held a brightness he hadn’t seen in months.
When she saw him, she stopped. “What are you doing here?” She sounded more curious than upset.
Radoslav tugged the lanyard that carried his official International Peacekeeping Force Interpreter badge. “I’m here with the evacuation team. Making sure everybody gets out and gets a ride to the camp.” He started slowly down the steps.
“Oh. Right.” She didn’t move.
The door opened behind him. Taylor, Andrews and the man with the baby came out.
“I couldn’t find him,” said the woman, the corners of her mouth turning down. “He’s probably up a tree or hiding in someone’s basement somewhere.”
“That’s a shame,” said the man with the burned face, who must be Erkan. Maybe he was her husband, and the blue bundle was their baby. As happy a little family as anyone could hope to find in Pasha district these days.
Ignoring the soldiers, the woman pointed down the alley between their apartment block and the next one. “I’m going to look around the back for a minute.”
“No,” Erkan said. “We should already be on the way to catch our ride. These guys are just here to round up the stragglers.”
She sighed. “Coco’s so spoiled he’ll never survive on the street. Just one minute—”
“Seriously, Dunya, you’re acting like a little kid. We need to go.”
“I know,” she said, pulling another cigarette out of her back pocket and lighting it. She took a long puff, sniffed, and wiped her eyes. “I’m getting it all out of my system before we get to the camp.”
“I’m sorry about all this,” said Radoslav softly in Tur. “I wish…”
The young woman, Dunya, looked up at him, her eyes widening in surprise.
He spread his hands. “I’d do anything. I’d give my life to make things right again for…” He paused. He was going to say, “For your people,” but because he was looking at her, it came out, “For you.” The tightness in his throat made his whole body ache.
He couldn’t repair blasted buildings, or bring dead people back to life, or even make it so this woman and her family wouldn’t have to leave their home, but maybe he could do something to ease their pain a little.
Dunya studied his face, her head on one side. “Anything?” She tucked strands of pink-streaked blonde hair behind her ears. “Then find my cat.”
Radoslav couldn’t help smiling. “All right, I will. At least I’ll try.”
Her eyebrows shot up. She stood silent for a moment, staring at him. “You do that. And by the way, I can speak Sev perfectly well.”
Slipping by him, she ran up to Erkan at the top of the steps and took the baby. As she tugged at the folds of the blanket a small red face appeared. “Good thing I came back,” she said, clicking her tongue. “You were going to smother him.”
“He was fine.”
“Look at his poor little sweaty face. And don’t forget our suitcases!”
“Oh, right.” Erkan sighed.
“Does Coco answer to his name?” Radoslav asked, but Dunya didn’t seem to hear him.
“I’ll find him for you,” he added louder, but she kept striding down the sidewalk, the baby cuddled to her chest.
Erkan followed more slowly, his arms dragged down by the overstuffed suitcases.