Sunday, August 11, 2019

Author Panel: Creating Memorable Main Characters for a Book Series - Lisa Yee

Lisa Yee
Photo Credit: Emi Fujii
Lisa Yee has written twenty novels and chapter books for kids. In addition to her Millicent middle grade series, DC Super Hero Girls as well as several books for the American Girl book series. She

When asked what makes a memorable character, Lisa responded that even if a character is unfamiliar to the reader, there is something about them that is familiar. Lisa also responded affirmatively that she puts herself in her books. But she quickly added that she steals from others' lives around her. Her Bobby books center on her son. Dan Santat illustrated the series and came to her house to draw her son, so art is based on him too.

Another question focused on whether the creators start with character or plot as they craft a series. Lisa starts with characters if she generates the series like Millicent Min, Girl Genius. Before she writes, Lisa spends time thinking about characters, what they like and don't like. It's a layered approach to their development. It's not until the end of the book do they come out fully formed.

But with the DC Super Hero Girls series, she focuses on plot because the super heroes' characters like Wonder Woman are well-known and understood. But at the same time, if I got her or any other character wrong, "people would want me dead" because they know and love these characters. But "after some mental gyrations, I realized that I'm just writing a story about these teens and their insecurities and I get started." 
Author Panel
L to R: Ben Clanton, Debbi Michiko Florence,
Bruce Hale and Lisa Yee
Follow Lisa on Twitter and find out more about her on her website.

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