Children raised their voices in the Roll Call Trilogy. How I learned to listen…

What was trash to The Third became a gift to The 28 United.

Early on in the creation of the Roll Call World, I kept hearing the words, wit, humor–the calling of children’s voices. As I gained an understanding of how The Third demonstrated malicious intent. How strategic their lack of close relationships reflected their ultimate plans. And how the devaluation of family and children took high priority in their government—well, I couldn’t help but hear the children rising up.

(Just a note: It’s really hard to write a blog on a book series without dropping spoiler alerts all over, or overcompensating with a bunch of general drivel. I’m hoping, if you’re reading these blogs, you’ve at least started reading Book #1 in the Roll Call Trilogy, and the references will make sense. As the months roll on and you become a regular reader, the posts will reflect Book #2 and Book #3. Then, those references to Inside The Third and Reluctant Warriors will help illuminate my writer’s journey in the creation of the Roll Call World.)

Annalynn, an 8-year-old orphan, befriends Avery, Shaw, and McGinty at their housing unit. She’s available to do pretty much anything she wants. Her caretaker—a pocket watch—shows responsibility only for peps to feed her, water to drink, and shelter. No wonder she needs friends. She’s full of spunk, “like a standup comedian for a kindergarten class.” Yeah, Annalynn pretty much rules. Until she meets the Library Boys.

They slide down the banister of the deserted Foxglove Library where a drugged-out pocket watch—Degnan—is supposedly their caretaker. Afterall, supervision is a necessity for these abandon sons belonging to the commanders of The Third. Their wacky combination of circus-like clothing and ultimate-risk behavior decorates every page they scamper across.

My writing frequently births quirky characters who romp with and throw the challenge flag at the protagonists. As I discover and grow these characters with funny actions, buzzy relationships, and quippy dialogue, I also uncover serious themes developing in this cast of characters.

You will find Morris, Raghill, Carles, Prospero, and Lear –the Library Boys—to have layer after layer of hidden traits, memories, and dreams that make them more than a passing moment of humor. Perhaps that’s why some of them wouldn’t leave me alone and insisted they accompany me from Book #1 to Book #2, and as they grew up in age, they wrangled major page time from Avery DeTornada and became major players in the final book Reluctant Warriors.

Growing up in a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi world of war, the children in the Roll Call Trilogy, while advanced in thinking skills beyond their adult counter-parts, always cling to a sense of wonder, humor, and hope like only children can. How do they walk in the middle of the unspeakable and still wield their sarcasm in a heartbeat? How do they propose social change when many have forgotten the value of community? They are the definition of humanity’s continuance—and they will not be silenced. How I love hearing their voices and morphing what I hear into action, dialogue and a story that invites you to be a part.

Join me on my next blog when we take a look at…the price of a pigeon.

About Gwen Mansfield

Gwen Mansfield loves words, and the thought of a good story sends ideas capering through her mind until they sift into characters, settings, and plots. Roll Call, Book #2 in the Roll Call Trilogy debuted as Gwen’s first post-apocalyptic, sci-fi survival thriller, and the surprises she found on the pages made it impossible to say goodbye to Avery DeTornada and her comrades. So—Welcome Book #2, Inside The Third and Book #3, Reluctant Warriors. Characters drive the creative process of Gwen’ writing. She says, “I can’t escape the quirky characters who romp through the pages of my stories—I guess ‘cause I’ve had so many of them in my own life. Almost every week I discover someone whose idiosyncrasies are a trigger to a character in a still-to-be-written story. And then, there are those people who wander through my life on a regular basis. Through the eyes of others, they may seem quite ordinary, but the influence they’ve had on my life is extraordinary. They too are the catalysts my books are made of. My kids always say, ‘If you stick around long enough, you’ll end up as a character in one of my mom’s books.’” Author of the Roll Call Trilogy, the novel Experiment Station Road, the stage play Grace Diner, and the musical Resistance! (based on the book Tales of the Resistance by David and Karen Mains)—Gwen Mansfield continues to bring the creation of new worlds to her latest release, Reluctant Warriors, Book #3. Gwen is an early recipient of the New Harmony Project, finalist in Reverie Productions’ Next Generation of Playwriting Contest, and a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Historical Fiction. She holds a BA in Theatre from Seattle Pacific University, an MA in Theatre Production from Central Washington University, and an MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction from University of New Orleans. She lives in the forests of Washington with her family. “Maybe it’s only in my dreams that I’ve descended into post-apocalyptic danger, run from dystopian challengers, chased threatening asteroids, and climbed into a romantic relationship with my soulmate—but for my readers—I launch it on the page!”—Gwen Mansfield View all posts by Gwen Mansfield

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