Avery Roe is the heroine of my novel, SALT & STORM. She’s sixteen years old, strong, smart, and capable. She is also not very likeable.
She’s prickly and irritable. She makes unfair judgments about people and talks without thinking. She’s grown up with a hugely inflated sense of self and, honestly, thinks she’s better than pretty much everyone she meets. And as intelligent as she is, she’s really just too smart for her own good.
If Avery isn’t technically a dark character, she definitely has her more unpleasant sides and she’s open with them—mostly because when the story starts, she’s not even aware of them. In that way, I modeled her after some of my favorite heroines in YA literature, girls who start out mean or cranky or bored or unlikeable like Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden or Anya in Anya’s Ghost. The magic in these books is we get to watch these spoiled, bratty girls transform into strong, capable characters—we get to watch them become heroes.
That was what I had in mind when I set out writing Avery. I wanted to start out with a girl who thinks she knows everything, who’s confident to a fault and certain about who she is and her (vaunted) place in the world, and slowly chip away at that confidence and certainty, make her question everything she knows and come up with some different answers.
By the end of the book, Avery hasn’t quite lost her dark side, and she’ll never be a sweet, understanding girl. But she has grown and transformed. She’s taken the things that used to be her handicaps—her biting humor, her ego, her snap judgments—and turned them into her strengths, using humor to get through her darkest moments, understanding that she has a responsibility to use her talents well, and trusting her instincts to guide her.
For Avery, the darker side is where her real character lives.