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Character Inspirations for Moonlight and Oranges-Elise Stephens Guest Post and Giveaway!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The idea for Moonlight and Oranges evolved out of a story that had long since interested me, the romantic yet troublesome myth of Cupid and Psyche. But I didn’t just want to translate the myth into a longer form, I wanted to bring it to the modern day, to let the ancient problems became real, relatable problems, and that meant that my heroes had to be flesh and blood humans with pasts, fears, hopes, and dreams - not larger- than-life immortals with unfair advantages and supreme powers. To do this, I drew upon the most unique and defining characteristics of family, friends, and people I’d met, to add real dimension and weight to my story’s cast.

LORONA CONNELLY- Heroine. Lorona’s namesake comes from the ghost in the Mexican folktale La Llorona. The name literally means “the crying woman” or “she who cries.” Her personality largely reflects me, the girl who did her best to keep clear of dangerous boys while she was in school, but with elements of a shy girl who preferred to play things safe and needed the prodding of an outgoing friend to keep from becoming a hermit.

KESTRIN FEATHER- Hero. He is based on a friend from college. Like my friend, Kestrin exhibits strong, almost overly-dramatic emotional swings, an intense and dependent attraction to women, and a destructive behavior that leads to a long string of flings. Kestrin’s belief in fate forces beyond his immediate control is also borrowed from my friend, but the dream journal and prophecy were created just for him. Kestrin is also inspired by the Greek god Cupid, who made people fall in love with each other—but I twisted it so that Kestrin’s knack was making the girls all fall in love with him.

YUKI MILLER- Heroine’s best friend. I like to think that she was a sheer invention of bliss and the product of how much fun an author can have with her supporting female character, but I’ve had friends tell me that Yuki and Lorona’s relationship strongly resembles the friendship I have with my best friend. Yuki is the passionate, free spirited person who I would love to be if I wasn’t so worried about responsibilities and what people think of me (true story), and she’s just a smidge away from exactly who I’d want in a girl friend.

KAHLIL SHEHADI- Hero’s best friend. He’s the handsome, good-as-gold, loyal pal who I got to infuse with my own Lebanese background. I based Kahlil a bit on my father as well as my father’s best friend (the two Lebanese men I know best), and then drew in the details to create someone who was as reliable as Kestrin was reckless, and as thoughtful toward women as Kestrin was prone to be thoughtless. Kestrin’s wildness created the need for Kahlil’s conservative stance – the perfect friendship.

AMANDA FEATHER- Hero’s mother, Heroine’s mother-in-law. This one was easy. I just conjured the best female expression of sheer mother-in-law evil and voila!...No seriously, she was the one I most heavily drew from the Greek myth in order to make. Aphrodite is the goddess of love. She repeatedly cheats on her husband, doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do, is fiercely jealous of any other woman who would dare to outshine her or threaten her power, and is a scary force to reckon with.

CARLINA EVERWOOD- Hero’s aunt. She is unashamedly based on my mother. I can easily admit to this inspiration (there are others I have to stay more shadowed about) because Carlina is a beloved character and she fights for the good guys. Her hippie-esque attitude, tendency for probing conversations, attention to beauty in her home and landscape, and spurts of wisdom are all drawn from the warm-hearted woman who raised me.

If I can base a character on someone I know from real life, this helps me create a frame on which to hang bits and pieces about his/her family, personal life, ambitions, etc, but I quickly steer away from long-term comparisons to real people in order to let my character live, breathe, and eventually come to life.

Sometimes they surprise me, sometimes they annoy me, sometimes they inadvertently embarrass me by revealing something personal, but most of the time, my characters have a habit of enchanting me.


  1. Congrats to Elise on her debut! I can't wait to read this one. (Coming from a fellow lover of the Cupid & Psyche myth) ;)

  1. Great debut - congratulations! This sounds like a wonderful story. I'd love to win this book because I adore anything about Cupid :)

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

    Gena Robertson

  1. I love Greek mythology and the idea of a modern story based on it appeals to me.

    Thanks for the post and for the giveaway opportunity.

  1. I love stories that rework myths! I really cant wait to read this one!

    megnate at telus dot net

  1. Pam said...:

    I have yet to read a book about Cupid though I have read some stories based on mythology and would very much like to read Moonlight and Oranges.

    Thank you very much for the chance to win it.


  1. Lori Thomas said...:

    The story sounds very interesting

  1. Lecea said...:

    The characters have cool names! I have been wanting to read this one since it was released!

  1. I love stories that have a basis in myth. It sounds fantastic.

  1. druidgirl said...:

    Moonlight and Oranges sounds like a really awesome book I would love to read it

  1. Unknown said...:

    I would love to win because this book looks wonderful and I would love to read it. :) Thank you for the chance!

  1. ann said...:

    Cupid and Pysche myth sounds interesting as do the characters in the book
    amhengst at verizon dot net

  1. Unknown said...:

    I would like to win because I've never read anything about Cupid & Pysche, so this would be a new subject for me.

    drainbamaged.gyzmo at

  1. LisaILJ said...:

    I had never heard of this book. It looks fantastic! I love the various takes on Cupid and I look forward to hunting this one down.