Character Interview: Ralda Lawton — Features from Atonement, TN

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Welcome to Atonement, TN everyone.

I’m giving myself a break this weekend and doing a rerun.

But first… I’m revising this post. I wanted to share something new with you, even though it has little to do with this post.  Monarch butterflies.

The butterfly is a symbol of transformation. One thing for which people who analyze books look is growth or transformation in characters. One particular character in Atonement, Tennessee changes, but that would be a spoiler, so I won’t go there. However, the heroine begins to grow, maybe even spread her butterfly wings.  Yet as in real life transformations are not always successful.

Now that I’ve tied it to this post, here’s something lovely that Google brought to my attention; a news article and a video.

What Is the Mountain of Butterflies?”

Now, back to my re-run!

This character interview was also posted two years ago.  I had just released my debut novel, Atonement, Tennessee.  

I’m delighted that many of you have been with “Teagan’s Books” that long.  For those of you who are newer, I hope you will enjoy this interview with the main character.

Character Interviews:  Ralda Lawton

Teagan:  Welcome Ralda.  Thanks for stepping outside of Atonement, Tennessee for this interview.  Forgive me if I’m not great at this – I’ve never interviewed one of my characters before.  Help me avoid giving any spoilers in this!  (I laugh.)

Ralda:  That’s no problem.  I already know that you used assorted bits of yourself not just for me, but for all the women characters in Atonement.

Teagan:  Yes, that was the only way I could write an entire novel in thirty days – for the 2012 National Novel Writing Month.  However, you are your own woman.  You’re not my alter ego, even if there is a good bit of me in your character.  But this interview is about you, not me.  So, are you really a small town girl at heart?Ralda-in-car_dreamstime_xs_28934268

Ralda:  I should have known you wouldn’t let me get away with controlling the interview.  (She jokes.)  Not exactly.  I’m more of a city girl who prefers small towns.  I don’t think that’s quite the same thing.  Despite all the crazy things that have happened since I moved to Atonement, TN, I like the town and the people.  There is always more to the people than I expect.  Plus I feel like it’s the kind of place where I never know what might happen.  I mean, it’s interesting.

Teagan:  What do you think about Gwydion?

hero-position-6468259Ralda:  Ugh!  I knew that was coming.  I try not to think about him – or Cael for that matter.  Gwydion is undeniably handsome and charming, and sometimes I admit that I’m attracted to him.  But…

Teagan:  But you don’t trust him? 

Ralda:  (She sighs and slouches back against her chair.)  I’m not a trusting soul.  When I ask him a question… it’s not that I think he’s lying.  But I always feel like he’s leaving out something; like I’m hearing a partial truth.  So how could I trust him?  Besides that, it seems like odd little things happen when he’s around.  I don’t know how to explain that, but it doesn’t help me trust him.Gate Ajar Night

Teagan:  Speaking of souls…I understand your new home has a cemetery.  (She shakes her head as if she can’t believe that herself.)  How do you feel about having a graveyard on your property?  Also, is one of the graves that of your ancestress?

Ralda:  I admit it was a creepy idea at first.  But I was so drawn to the house, Sunhold, that I tried not to think about the cemetery.  I sort of ignored the fact that it was part of my new home.

Teagan:  I’ve noticed that seems to be how you handle things that bother you – deciding not to think about them.  (She looks at me archly, but then sheepishly.)  I’m sorry – please continue.

Ralda:  I realize that – thinking about something later, is not one of the traits I get from you.  Don’t even try to figure it out.  It’s old baggage.  Like I said, at first I thought having my own cemetery was creepy, and right off the bat I had a frightening experience there.  However, I quickly came to feel protective of the old place.  It was overgrown, and unthreatening.  It has a certain kind of beauty.  It seems contemplative, peaceful, and oddly vulnerable.  There is something special about that old cemetery.Lilith standing on stone

As you know, Ralda is a nickname I chose.  My given name is Esmeralda.  One tombstone in the old cemetery has the name Esmeralda Gwynedd.  My friend and neighbor, Bethany, is absolutely determined that it is an ancestress of mine.  We’ll have to see how that plays out.  You said not to give any spoilers.

Teagan:  True.  With spoilers in mind, maybe we should leave it at that.  At least for now.  Thanks Ralda.  I know you’d much rather be in Atonement, TN than in DC talking to me.

Atonement, Tennessee is available in the following formats:


80 thoughts on “Character Interview: Ralda Lawton — Features from Atonement, TN

  1. Pingback: The Roberts’ Interviews – Rusty Balls | Hugh's Views & News

  2. What a wonderful idea…. A character who steps outside of a book to be interviewed by the author that brought that character to life.
    You recaleed me of Luigi Pirandello´s play `Six Characters in Search of an Author´… I watched at the theatre years ago…
    That being said, an excellent interview, dear Teagan… thank you… sending hugs and best wishes. Aquileana 🎇


    • Hi Aquileana — it’s wonderful to see you! I am far from the first writer to interview her characters, but I agree that it is fun and useful. 🙂
      I haven’t heard of the “Six Characters” play, but now I am very curious about it. Thank you so very much for visiting and commenting. Have a thriving Thursday! Hugs. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So enjoy your style of writing, Teagan. Your characters are interesting and inviting, making me want more-the whole idea, right??? The Trailer is great too, with the music putting me right in the spirit of it all!


    • Hi Kim and thank you! I put a lot of thought into what kind of music to use for that one. I chose a Celtic tune because of the mythology that loosely inspired some characters, as well as the fact that bluegrass music came from Celtic music brought by settlers who came to Appalachia — which includes the part of Tennessee where I imagine Atonement, TN. Thanks so very much for visiting and commenting. Huge hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great idea to interview your characters, Teagan. Being a newbie here, it’s really good to be able to read stuff I’d probably never have even known was somewhere on your blog. I like the idea very much and am sure it must help being able to develop the character and their story in the book you are writing?


    • Hi Hugh. I’m far from the first writer or blogger to interview one of my characters — but it is not something you see every day. I think it’s a fun thing to do, so I’m happy you enjoyed it. While I started doing the interviews *after* I wrote the Atonement novel, on a few others, you are right — it does help me develop a character that is in progress.
      I hope your year is off to a beautiful beginning. Mega hugs!


  5. Hi Donna. I’m so happy for you to say that! 🙂 Spread your wings!
    (I need to transform and spread my wings for sure!!!)

    I’d say the interviewing is a little of both — It helps me feel grounded with a character; solidifies who they are. But getting to that “grounded” place with the character can be difficult.
    For instance, the Racine character. She gets more attention in book-2. I’d like to interview her, but it would be too hard because there are many things about her that are not firm in my mind (grounded). Of course it might be a way to figure her out, but she might remain somewhat “unresolved” through more than this and the next book… until the story is right for her nature to be resolved permanently. Ugh… did that make any sense at all?
    Mega butterfly hugs!


  6. Teagan, you just know when to post just the right thing – the butterfly thing is exactly what I’m feeling right now, like I need to spread my wings, maybe transform a little first. And I absolutely love interviewing your characters – it adds such depth…I’ve always wondered, is it difficult or does it give clarity to you, as a writer? Or both? Either way, I like it. 🙂
    Hope this week treats you kindly, dear one. 🙂
    Megahugs and all good things to you, now fly away!!! 🙂


  7. Thanks for reblogging the character interview. Seeing as how we only met this year I didn’t read this, and it sounds fun and intriguing, especially after watching the great trailer! Can’t wait to get to it on my TBR! ❤


    • You’re so kind Debby. Thanks for taking time to read and comment.
      WordPress gremlins are tireless workers — your (and others’ too) still doesn’t get to my email… But I look forward to reading some posts about your Arizona vacation… hint, hint. 😉 Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Arg Teag, the WP gremlins are wreaking havoc with so many. I don’t get post anymore from Sue Vincent, even though I followed her twice and before I was getting duplicates. Nicholas Rossis is disappointed in WP since he moved to self hosted, says he’s not on the reader anymore. I often have to go directly to my favourite blogger’s pages (like yours) to read because the reader sends them 3 weeks late. So many times I’ve missed posts that are time sensitive, like book promos or blog challenges. It’s annoying. xo ❤


  8. Since I didn’t see this interview 2 years ago I was delighted to read it and think it is brilliant.You did it so well and interviewing one of your characters is a great way to get to know not only the character but how you, the writer, develop that character, it’s like a peek into your process. I thought it was wonderful.


    • Hi Suzanne. It’s great to see you. I’m relieved that a lot of people are saying they didn’t see the original of this post. I also experienced twin twinges of chagrin and humiliation when I saw it in print that it’s over two years since I published Atonement-1 and since October I’ve hardly touched book-2… It’s not writer’s block. It’s just life in the way of my creative process. (Someday I’ll write a dystopian satire about it all… 😈 )
      That in mind, your encouraging words mean even more! Thank you my friend. Have a splendid Sunday. Huge hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s great to be back in Ralda’s world for a little while to stave off my cravings for more Atonement! You’ve brought her character through in this interview Teagan – loved your interaction 🙂


    • Thank you so much Andrea. The way you described this means a lot to me. But then, you are supremely gifted in your command of language.
      😀 Interaction… You just gave me a fun thought about a character interview becoming a bit of an argument. Maybe one with Sheriff Robin. 😉 Looking forward to your next post. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I too missed this interview from two years ago. It’s delightful and a wonderful way to introduce your characters! Bravo! And the video of the Monarch butterflies was interesting indeed. Wouldn’t you love to hear the “sound of light rain” of that many butterflies taking off? XOXO


    • Thank you Kathryn. I’m beginning to feel less guilty about this rerun. 😀
      Yes, it would be so amazing to see the Monarchs like that! Recently I recommended “Wings of Life” to Janet for a hummingbird sequence, but it also has a lot about the Monarchs in all their life stages. Beautifully done nature show, narrated by Meryl Streep. Many thanks for taking a moment to comment. Mega hugs my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy Saturday, Teagan. Google is my homepage, so I caught the Google Doodle this morning, though I didn’t click. I enjoyed watching the video here. Interesting about the sound of the butterfly wings. It was also nice to get reacquainted with Ralda. Have a great day!


  12. Thank you for the interview Teagan, I didn’t see it two years ago. It’s a bit of an eyeopener into Ralda’s world without giving anything away.
    Hoping the New Year has started well for you and just gets better.
    xxx Gigantic Hugs xxx


    • Hi David — It’s always a delight to see a comment from you. Thank you. I was worried about over-using the reruns. I will say one thing for my 2016; it has not started with any sort of stagnation. Decisions abound and await. So there is the potential for good. Wishing you well, dear friend. Mega hugs!


  13. That’s s great idea for introducing us to a character Teagan. I also noticed that ability of yours that I admire so much, the way you explain new things in dialog. You do that do well, I remember being struck by that in your serials.


    • Dan… I don’t know what to say. I’ve always thought dialogue was a weakness for me. So thank you very much for saying that. I hope all the crafty types and any unknown woodworkers out there will pay a visit to your post today. You have many talents. Huge hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re actually partially responsible for my “If we were having a beer” posts Teagan. I was trying to work on writing better dialog but I didn’t have many opportunities. Then I realized that I could explain some things if I buried them in a conversation. I have a long way to go but I like having the option.


        • Really? Dan, I’m absolutely tickled to think could share a part in inspiring anyone to write. I enjoy your “beer” posts. I feel like I’m sitting there with your buddy and you and the bartender. 😀 😀 😀
          Yes, you can absolutely explain parts of the story via dialogue. You can also convey the emotions of the character by adding a few extra words after “he said.” But I think you’ve already gotten the hang of it. Hugs!


          • Between you and John H. I’ve been on a journey with those posts. He suggested trying write the dialog without all the explanation I used to add. Since I started writing that series, others have made suggestions too. I feel blessed to have such inspiring writers share their thoughts with me.


            • John W. Howell is a true master of dialogue. Not many people can leave off the “he said” ends of dialogue sentences without me getting completely confused about who is talking after a few sentences. But John can fill a page — and not just with 2 characters talking, but 3 or 4, and I never struggle to understand who is who.

              Advice on dialogue or ANY part of writing differs wildly. Ultimately we have to do what works for us. Writing is a very individual thing. But how boring would it be if each writer followed the same set of “you shoulds” and told stories the same way? Me… I just try to write the kind of thing I’d like to read. That’s my personal rule of thumb. I don’t present it as a “should” for anyone else.
              Thanks for the lovely conversation Dan! Hugs.

              Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Suzanne. I’m happy you enjoyed the interview. I always enjoy it when other writers interview their characters. I’ve done them on a few of the Atonement characters, and at least one from the serials. On the right side of the page (scroll down) I have a category button for Character Interviews.
      Have a beautiful weekend. Mega hugs!


  14. I can’t remember if I’ve read this interview or not originally (I think not, or at least I’ve forgotten the details). Great idea and good to know what Ralda has to say. 🙂


  15. Good morning dear Teagan…..I didn’t read this two years ago, and so it was a great delight….and I love the little video. When I think of all things Atonement, Tennessee – somehow I am immediately taken into a world of magic and wonder….or maybe it’s better said that I am immediately removed from the madness of our own world!:) Wishing you a wonderful weekend…may it be filled with creativity and of course colourful hummingbirds. Janet. xx


    • Thank you so much Janet! I’m opening an imaginary window for the magical hummingbirds. It’s so cold and rainy that they really must come inside. 😀 ❤
      Actually, I just updated this post to include some butterflies! Not as magical as hummingbirds, but a close second. Mega hugs my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LOL, thanks Tim.
      You must have been up late — I hope you weren’t out in the cold doing some kind of repair. Stay warm!
      While I’m certainly not the first to interview my characters, I enjoy doing it. As with the “Features from Atonement, TN” it’s also a way to give blog readers a bonus; expand on the novel without necessarily giving any spoilers.
      Many thanks for taking time to read and comment. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

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