**Two big question marks still remain, but I think I finally have enough information to finally start sharing.**
At least for this particular character
For two years now, I've been brainstorming for a book. It's about a group of dancers [dubbed "sirens"] who are the star attraction at a club. They put together elaborate routines [to songs by strong female artists] in the style of Latin dance with an emphasis on flaunting their sexuality.
The venue was previously a restaurant owned by a mob family who work in the drug trade. So occasionally, they ask the girls to close the place to the public. In the case where negotiations are at an impasse, a couple of the girls offer their unique "services," which helps close the deal.
...as of this point, I'm still figuring out the location... my gut says somewhere in South America, particularly a place where prostitution is legal.
It's a place with so few opportunities that often times, there's no other choice but to go this route.
Fair warning: my girls have all experienced abuse in one capacity or another.
So discretion is advised.
Carmen "Amber" Garcia
(likeness in hair color only)
Birthday: August 21st (Leo)
Hair: Dark with bangs and auburn highlights
Bust size: C-cup
Carmen- age 0-14
Carmen's mother, Amber, ran away from home when she was 14. After which, she was abducted and forced into a prostitution ring. Each apartment in the brothel has two bedrooms. One for living quarters and one for business.
One of her clients knocked her up at age 18. She raised Carmen in bedroom living quarters, keeping her hidden from her bosses. But as years progresses, depression began to take a hold of her. She overdosed on pills when Carmen was only 10. One of her captors found the body, comforted Carmen and then sexually assaulted her.
"I screamed for help but no one came... nobody answers screams in this place."
Her body developed early, so she was popular among this particular type of cliental. The common scenario involved her hands being tied or handcuffed to the bed, as if she had tried to escape multiple times. In fact, there was no chance of escape since the door was always locked and the windows were too high to jump from.
At age 14, a friendship formed between her and one of her clients. He quickly became a regular and spent his "paid time" having commonplace conversations with her. He even helped her learn how to read and write, something her mother barely had time to teach her, between her work and the crippling depression.
He concocted a plan to fake her death and he gave her transport out of the facility to a couple towns over.
Question #1: I still don't know who he was or what happened to him. I wrote that he said he'd come back for her. And if he never came, he recommended a place to go for help.
That place just happens to be owned by the mob family.
Carmen- age 14-18
Because of her bombshell figure, Carmen passed herself off as age 16 rather than 14 to get work and to find an apartment.
At the mob-owned restaurant, she was a waitress. She quickly became infatuated with Alejandro. He was the nephew of the owners and heir apparent of the restaurant. He was also a womanizer. They fostered a friendship and she waited through dozens of one-night-stands for him to take notice her. That, plus the fact she was waiting until she was officially 18 to come forward about her feelings.
She lived in an apartment with two co-workers, Michel and Misha, who taught her how to dance. In their spare time, they taught Latin styles like Cha-cha and samba.
Future siren, Scarlet, arrived a year after Carmen. Her twin sister Ruby had helped her escape their abusive father. Carmen supports her throughout this recovery progress, which involves physical and mental repercussions. The two become best friends.
Unbeknownst to either of them, the restaurant had been falling on hard times, financially. The whole neighborhood has experienced similar hardships.
Around this pivotal time, my story's protagonist Talia arrives on the scene. Her idea is to transform the restaurant into a club that features all female personnel. Bartenders and dancers. For her own personal reasons, she also offers to prostitute herself to help with their business negotiations. Her childhood friend Vanessa comes along shortly after.
For a number of reasons, Carmen develops a strong hostility towards Talia. She changed her workplace so drastically in a short time (during which she was out sick). She was ready to come to Alejandro about her feelings and he's smitten with Talia. Scarlet also starts spending more time with her, so she feels as if she's lost her best friend.
Then there's the fact Talia's style of dancing is overtly sexual. Given the world she came from, it's like her past has returned to haunt her.
Talia, Vanessa and Scarlet form the dance troupe who call themselves "sirens" as they use their dancing to draw in their audience. Auditions are held to find another member of their troupe. Carmen decides to do so, with Michel and Misha as back-up.
[Inspiration: "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga]
Things do not go well. Not only does Talia say her heart isn't in the dance (Carmen takes this to mean she wasn't sexy enough for her tastes), but she also fires Michel and Misha to promote her vision of an all-female cast. To add insult to injury, Ruby is among the auditionees. She and her friends adapt a routine from their previous place of employment, a strip club.
[Inspiration: "Love Game" by Lady Gaga]
With everything going wrong, Carmen decides that the best thing to do is leave.
Amber- age ?-present
Question #2: What happens to her in the time period she was away from the club? How long was she away?
With no opportunities, and no desire to leave Alejandro behind, Carmen has no choice but to return to the club. But in order to become the very thing she opposed, she assumes a new identity.
She dubs herself "Amber," paying homage to her mother and the new highlights in her hair (which have become permanent after a botched dying job). She also grows bangs, puts on more make-up, and (possibly) gets some piercings.
She succeeds at her first audition.
[inspiration: "Circus" by Britney Spears]
Talia only suggests that she put on less make-up next time.
Amber and Talia are similar in that both girls don't like talking about their pasts. But Amber is more aloof. She keeps her distance from Scarlet so she doesn't see through her façade. She has a caustic attitude around Ruby. The two of them share two nights every work week, but she keeps her distance from her. She never forgave her for the audition where she overshadowed her and remains paranoid that will one day happen again.
And of course, she has a great deal of disdain and hostility towards Talia. She desires to step outside of the same old routines, wanting to introduce hip-hop, but Talia refuses.
And while she has the final say on the playlists everyone uses for their routines, once or twice, Talia has stolen one of Amber's songs [most of them are from Britney Spears' "Circus" album] to dissuade men pursing her.
Emilia, the newest girl employed by the club (specifically as a back-up dancer), becomes another big part of this storyline of conflict.
Originally, auditions were held to find another dancer to perform with Amber and Ruby. Something they needed pretty desperately because Amber refused to work with her.
But her audition impresses her so much that she doesn't want Amber to get a hold of her.
As part of her new persona, Amber takes things a few steps further than the other girls.
Only she, Talia and Ruby are involved in the "extracurricular" activities.
Amber is into a lot of bondage (and later on adds blindfolds). The others believe she does this for shock value or because it's something she's really into... but after her past experiences, this is the only way she can perform sexually.
Amber wants to work with Emilia, but Talia won't allow it unless she agrees to work with some of the other sirens.
Working with Vanessa is the beginning of this, which isn't a difficult concession to make since the two are good friends.
While Talia's storyline progresses, fending off another suitor and later falling in love with him, Amber brews an idea for a theme night called "House of Leather" which extends to their wardrobe.
[Inspired by a series of songs from Lady Gaga's "Born this way" album]
Emilia agrees to help her out after finding about the true nature of their business (something Talia deliberately kept from her to protect her innocence).
The only problem that arises is that Ruby shows up instead of Scarlet and upstages Amber.
When I originally constructed Amber, she was nothing more than an opposing force for Talia to contend with. A rival who wanted to be the #1 girl on the roster.
But as I started writing the back story, I found that there was so much more to her.
She's probably THE moral compass of the story, the one who wants to give up this lifestyle and do something more constructive.
And in the end, it's all about getting Alejandro to notice her.
Eventually her secrets do come out, but they help everyone get closer together. And Talia decides to move their business away from selling sex and allowing the other girls to contribute more than she'd allowed in the past.
She even asks Amber to teach her some hip-hop, something she'd become quite good at.
Personally, of all the girls, I probably have the most in common with Amber. Certainly in the early part of her character arc (before the name change), the unrequited love and harboring feelings for a guy is something I've experienced. She's fiercely loyal to her friends and those she loves. She has trouble expressing herself and what she really wants. Granted, she's probably much braver than I am in certain situations.
Apollonia (bombshell figure and complexion)
Vanity (middle- animalistic attitude on stage)