Bonus Material: Inspiration for my Heroine with Heterochromia
More Than Meets the Eye is the first book in a new series. Each time I start a new project, there is an excitement that comes with getting to know a fresh group of characters, but there is also a pressure to make these characters unique. A challenge that gets increasingly difficult the more books I publish.
The premise behind my new Patchwork Family series is a group of orphans who bond to form their own family when their orphan train derails. These youngsters were overlooked, discarded, and unwanted by the families they met along their journey. Zach, because he is a belligerent loner with a giant chip on his shoulder. Seth, because he is sickly, weakened by asthma. But how could I make my cheerful, tenderhearted Evangeline undesirable to adoptive families?
That's when I thought of cats. No, I wasn't going to give her claws. But what about mismatched eyes? Psychologists will tell you that at a subconscious level, humans crave symmetry. It's why certain faces are universally more attractive than others. When that symmetry is out of balance, it creates cognitive dissonance in the human brain. In our effort to explain away this discomfort, we place blame on the cause, calling it unnatural or even something darker like witchcraft. The greater the dissonance, the greater the reaction. So, I didn't simply give my heroine slightly different colored eyes, I made them drastically different. One dark brown and one vividly blue.
My husband loves the fantasy genre, and together we watched The Shannara Chronicles, a series based on Terry Brooks's novels. In season two, they introduce a new villain, General Riga. He is ruthless in his quest to eradicate magic. And his evil is highlighted by his unnatural eyes—one dark brown, the other vivid blue.
My sweet-natured heroine is nothing like this villain, yet she feels the sting of rejection and prejudice because of her mismatched eyes and is challenged by the hero to stand tall in a world that fails to appreciate her unique beauty.
My prayer in creating this heroine with heterochromia is that she will encourage readers who feel different and possibly rejected because they fail to fit into societal norms. I also want to remind readers of all types to look beyond the surface and seek out the hidden beauty in the people around them.