Character of the Month: February: Rowan Oakwood


Image from ‘Opacity’ on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed

 Rowan was a loner, an oddball, a self-confessed weirdo with no friends and no parents. She shouldn’t have been the one to pit herself against the strength and cunning of these dark scraps of demons. Sometimes, when she was in one of her moods, Rowan wondered if it was all some great cosmic joke, and that only the gods in the heavens knew the punch line. –Excerpt from The Breathing Ghosts, copyright Eleanor Keane February 2013.

Within The Breathing Ghosts my protagonist, Rowan Oakwood, is many things.

A drifter, a dreamer, a lone reed, a lesbian, a hunter. She is all of these things, and defiantly so. When reading paranormal romances, (my guilty pleasure,) I soon grew tired of the ‘supernatural-girl-that-pretends-to-be-normal’ cliché. It seems so tired, so stale to me, and it drags the reader through the (unnecessary) pantomime of a character trying to be something they’re not, until they have a (surprisingly convenient) epiphany.

I suppose such a strategy is meant to add tension and drama, but all it’s ever done is annoy me. Where are the characters that are proudly different? Where are the ones who are able to stand their ground and fight for what they believe in and who they are?  I wanted to write a character that was different, unusual and perhaps even odd- not just in personality, but also in terms of name, outlook and appearance. A character that could be proudly different, that could stand up and shout out for herself.

Eighteen-year old Rowan Oakwood is the creative brainchild of those beliefs.

Throughout the novel Rowan has to contend with people making fun of her name, and asking her questions about it, yet she never feels self-conscious or embarrassed by it. She is a survivor of playground bullying, endless horrible comments and teasing over her appearance- which, suffice to say, is different. She has long, coppery red hair, pale skin; blue eyes and her clothes are a whimsical mix of charity-shop relics, eccentric vintage finds, velvets and patchworks. Part scarecrow, part Seventies dandy, her appearance stirs comments wherever she goes and not all of them are nice. She loves the colour orange and hates red. She also has a golden mark on her forehead that people mistake for a birthmark, but which actually marks her out as a hunter. Within this mark is contained the magic that Rowan uses to fight vampires, but it is woefully unpredictable, spontaneous and hard to control. One of her main goals throughout the novel is to find out how to control her magic, so as to fulfill her destiny and duty as the last vampire hunter of her line.

Despite her bright clothes and ready wit, Rowan’s journey is by no means easy. Her parents were killed by a vampire when she was a baby, her uncle is consumed by grief for her mother-his sister-and she is friendless and aloof. As the last vampire hunter that she knows of, her burden is a heavy one, and she feels alone and under pressure to live up to her father’s reputation as a fearsome and skilled hunter. She’s comfortable in her sexuality, but unsure of how to tell Bruce, her uncle, as he lives under a cloud of sadness and regret, barely noticing anything if it’s not to do with vampires.

Years of bullying have toughened Rowan up, made her wary of meeting new people, and of putting them in harm’s way by exposing them to vampires.

Yet she is also funny, kind, accepting of others and uncommonly brave. It is these qualities which Violet Valvayne notices and admires. Violet is the twin sister of Virgil, the vengeful, narcissistic vampire that is trying to track Rowan down for bloody revenge. The closer Virgil gets, the deeper Violet falls in love with Rowan, and the more Rowan finds herself inexplicably drawn to Violet and her strange, reclusive beauty. Will Rowan find a way to control her magic? Will Virgil get his revenge? And will she give in to her growing feelings for his sister? As Rowan’s journey becomes darker and more dangerous, she finds that the answers may be far more deadly than she could have ever imagined.


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