A big-city girl trapped in the outback!
She’s clumsy, headstrong, independent, and the quiet girl who sits at your lunch table and barely says a word. You think she’s pretty , but she feels awkward and out of place…
If you have been reading the excerpts from ‘Smoulder,’ on my blog, you have an insight into Riley with her reaction to first witnessing Teddy’s pyrokinesis; and her attempt in discovering if she also has a latent ability (and coming up empty in a comical tone). So in this blog I thought it would be fun to learn about the girl herself – what makes her tick. Plus see how I pictured Riley with some of actors I had in mind when creating the character…
I didn’t want the protagonist to be weak or reactive to what goes on around her, although it was essential she possess a certain amount of naivety and passivity in dealing with her peers. Although she would carry a strong sense of self and need the security of family to ground her – because in all other aspects of her life she would not have a clue about what she wants. From this ideal Riley Taylor emerged.
Riley’s journey and growth throughout ‘Smoulder’ will force her to question these ideals and either evolve or fade into obscurity. Which she will always find challenging because she is at her core, an introvert.
Physically, she has clear pale skin and a vibrant mass of curly red hair, Riley is of above average height and slender, but athletic. Actors Skyler Samuels or Kate Mara most closely resemble how I pictured her. A keen hiker and love for gardens gets her outdoors frequently, even though they are in essence, solo activities. If she is put in the spotlight, particularly in front of a crowd, Riley’s nervousness accumulates to the point she becomes clumsy and uncoordinated.
Having lost her father when she was young, Riley tends to escape in to the worlds in her novels, the romantic notions of good triumphing over evil and destined love make her feel safe. Feeling out of place in Alice Springs and the desert heat, wanting to return to the anonymity of a lush Adelaide, adds to her need to retreat into a make believe world where everyone is happy.
Loving Botany, she has developed a detached way of viewing the world through scientific observation at times, and is torn between the two juxtaposing notions of Literature and Botany for a possible career. Although either profession would accommodate her penchant for dressing comfortably, rejecting feminine stereotypes of high heels, dresses and make-up.
She has two very different reactions to the Tavish cousins, Teddy and Tom – where usually she would spurn the interests of the opposite sex – these men stir something all too new. Riley finds Teddy mysterious (and tortured), confident, excessively handsome. He’s mature, standing out from all the other boys at the college, and is protective of her when she is unable to protect herself, leaving her feeling cherished. He makes her feel inadequate which is something she has never been made to experience. Teddy epitomizes the kind of man she dreams about but could never have.
Tom, altogether different, is genuinely happy, does things for others without reward or recognition, she feels safe and comfortable around him. Discovering he is always misjudged – Riley comes to his defense and feels like his champion. Tom is first boy to make her out laugh loud and hard. He values her opinions and independence, qualities she has only had with her Mother, and leave her feeling unique and important. He makes her want to be a better person.
Both boys challenge her with introspection and bring qualities to the surface she never knew she possessed.
I hope you find Riley as someone you can relate to, and want to find out how she deals in being confronted with the secretive and supernatural Tavish Clan, the dangers coming to Alice Springs, and the dramas of High School in the upcoming novels included the Smoulder Series.
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