Veronica: My guest today is Cara Bristol, author of Captured by the Cyborg, book 3 in her Cy-Ops series. She’s talking about character traits!
Cara: Readers of all genres like to know what the hero and heroine look like, but often in contemporary romance, whether a character has brown hair or blond, blue eyes or green, isn’t that essential to the plot. But in science fiction romance, character details can be critical.
In science fiction and sci-fi romance a character’s appearance contributes to the world-building. One cannot assume in SFR that a character has two eyes, normal human skin tones, or ten fingers and toes. One can’t assume that a character is human. He/she might be alien, an alien/human halfbreed, android, cyborg, a clone, or genetically altered in some way.
Here are a few suggestions for creating/describing SFR characters:
- Even if the hero or heroine is alien, it’s a safer bet (sales wise) to create main characters who are humanoid in appearance. Readers need to be able to envision themselves with that hero or as that heroine. This is where SFR diverges from SF. But even in Stars Wars, Luke Skywalker was human. He doesn’t look like Chewbacca.
- You can have fun and go all out with secondary characters and especially villains. That’s where you can be the most creative. Here’s how Illumina in Captured with the Cyborg describes some of the alien races:
Employers weren’t supposed to ask about species or origin—not that one couldn’t tell from looking. Malodonians had blue skin, Arcanians had webbed fingers and six eyes, Lamis-Odg had ridged foreheads and vestigial horns. Slime crawlers…well, their species name said it all. Faria had wings. Without those specialized appendages only the tendency to glow would betray her origins. With that under control, there wasn’t much to distinguish her from a Terran, hence, her choice of disguise.
- Focus on the unique details of your character. If hair & eye color don’t matter, maybe you don’t need to describe them at all. Let the reader fill in her own details and pick another or unique physical traits to focus. The arch villain of the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series is a race of aliens called the Lamis-Odg. They’re as ugly as they are evil. Their distinguishing characteristic is a ridge that runs across their forehead from temple to temple. This is how Kai Andros of Mated with the Cyborg sees a Lamis-Odg woman
He glanced at Janai. White and red, old and new scars crisscrossed her mottled skin. Besides the irregular ridges outlining her face, two lumps protruded from her forehead like vestigial horns.
- Show a character’s reaction to another’d physical traits. In Captured by the Cyborg, Illumina’s hair plays a big role in the story, more than just the fact that the hero likes it. But this is how he reacts to what he sees when he first meets her.
The woman’s head didn’t reach his shoulder. But what she lacked in stature, she compensated for with hair.
Shimmering, silvery-blonde waves of it tumbled to her hips. The platinum shade didn’t reflect light, it radiated it, almost as if the individual strands were composed of fibers of light itself. Although women could and did take chemical supplements to alter pigment at the cellular level, and platinum hair was not unusual, the combined effect of the color and shine was. Striking under the harsh artificial illumination—what would it look like in moonlight?
In a complete violation of propriety, he reached out to touch. He caught himself and snapped his hand to his side, calling upon his nanocytes to stamp out the kindling of desire. Turned on by a job candidate’s hair. This is what happened when you didn’t get laid often enough. Not entirely his fault though. He’d planned to visit the Darius 4 pleasure resort, until Lamis-Odg terrorists had destroyed the place. Under reconstruction, reopening hadn’t been scheduled yet.
He forced his attention away from her hair.
And noticed her clothing. What the hell was she wearing? Masculine, almost military-style trousers in a fabric mottled in various shades of tan led to clunky coyote-brown boots. A loose-fitting jacket in the same variegated pattern covered her top half. Fatigues—but from what century? The twenty-first maybe? Where had she acquired the getup?
“Mr. Homme?” Gray eyes met his in a direct stare. “I’m Illumina Smith. Thank you for seeing me.” Her voice tinkled like chimes blowing in a gentle wind, but the hand that seized his gripped like a steel clamp.
What memorable characteristics have you run across in your reading? What tips do you have for creating memorable SFR characters?
Captured by the Cyborg Description
Sometimes the biggest risk is to one’s heart….
An ex-Cyber Operations field agent, Dale Homme has kissed danger and betrayal more times than he cares to count. Now he runs a clandestine factory beneath the surface of the moon Deceptio, where confidentiality and security matter more than anything. When a beautiful young woman arrives seeking a job, Dale knows within minutes she’s lying. Everything about her is false: her past, the people she claims to know, her reason for being on Deceptio. Illumina Smith? Even her name is an alias.
Logic says send her packing. His gut says she’s in trouble. She needs him. So he’ll do anything to keep her safe….even if it means keeping her captive.
Captured by the Cyborg is third in the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series but is written to be read as a stand-alone novella.
USA Today bestselling author Cara Bristol has published more than twenty-five erotic romance titles, including contemporary and science fiction romance. No matter what the subgenre, one thing remains constant: her emphasis on character-driven seriously hot erotic stories with sizzling chemistry between the hero and heroine. Cara has lived many places in the United States, but currently lives in Missouri with her husband. She has two grown stepkids. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading and traveling.