Thursday, May 12, 2016

Writing a Character from Another Culture by Paty Jager

While coming up with the characters for my action adventure romance I wanted a hero who was a complete opposite of my heroine. I’d been visiting with a woman who had married a Venezuelan and had lived there for several years. Hearing about her life as an outsider and the way the men of Venezuela treated a woman, I thought that nationality would make my hero an interesting contrast to my genius, privately schooled heroine.

What I didn’t realize that while building Tino’s background I would throw in government turmoil (in Venezuela) his family fleeing that country and his teen and adult years being spent in the United States. With this as his background, I could give him the macho attitudes of the Latin men but also have him more tolerant of the heroine’s independence because he had lived in the states. His Latin machismo comes out when he is fighting his attraction to the skinny, brainy woman he wouldn't usually look at twice. He soon realizes it is her heart, genius, and innocence that embeds her in his heart.

Some of the culture things I found interesting about Venezuela dealt with how the men treated the women. From my friend’s account the women were treated like children. Given money for groceries and shopping and told when they could do things. The men refrained from vulgar language while around the women.

I used the language bit with Tino. He uses stronger curse words in his head and when Isabella isn’t around and a milder one when she is with him. While she grew up secluded and pampered, he faced many harsh realities in life and knows the seedy side as well as the affluent side. This both in his home land of Venezuela and in the states. 

Talking with someone who knows a culture well whether they are from that culture or has lived with them
is what helps me make my characters believable.
Blurb for Secrets of a Mayan Moon:
Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.

DEA agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He’s deep undercover as a jaguar tracker and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy anthropologist heats his Latin blood taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.

Tino pulled the truck over and stepped out. He’d have to be more careful around the doctor. For all her gullibility, she had a mind that deducted and researched. Keeping his true identity a secret from her would be a challenge. He retrieved a can of Gallo and a canteen. He slid under the steering wheel, handed her the canteen, and popped the top on the beer.
She frowned. “You aren’t going to drink and drive? It isn’t even noon.”
Her attitude reminded him of his initial perspective of her, when he only knew her name. Sour and bossy. “Yes, this is my beverage of choice since the water around here is unsuitable to drink.” It wasn’t his drink of choice. He only used it as a prop to reinforce his cover of a bum who could only get a job as a guide.
“But beer? You could purchase juice or soda.” She narrowed her eyes. “What happens if you get drunk and can’t find your way to the dig? We’ll end up stranded in the jungle.”
“I have never become drunk. I drink only when I am thirsty.” The gall of her to imply he didn’t know his way around the jungle. He sneaked a peek at the Government Issue watch with GPS strapped to his left wrist.
“I still think you could make a better choice. Alcohol has a drying effect on the body.”
Tino stabbed her with a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding stare. “What is sticking your clothes to you?” A sheen of perspiration glistened her skin, adding more definition to her collarbone and high cheek bones. His blood heated at the sight. He tamped the sensation down. Doctor Mumphrey wasn’t his type, she was out of his league, and he didn’t make attachments. In his line of work all he could enjoy were one nighters, and she wasn’t the one night type.
Isabella didn’t blush, but the indignant set to her jaw slackened. Her slender fingers unscrewed the lid on the canteen. Closing her eyes, she tipped her head back, and raised the vessel to her lips. Contentment transformed her features to the childlike innocence he’d noticed the night before. She slowly drank, savoring each mouthful and swallowing in slow motion. The effect more erotic than anything he’d seen before.
¡Coño! Tino stared out the window. The sooner he got her to the dig the better. His protective instincts had kicked in. Not good. Once he dropped her off it was adios intriguing señorita.

Secrets of a Mayan Moon is available at Windtree Press / Kindle / Nook / KoboApple.

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