Saturday, October 15, 2011

Anatomy of a Character: Introducing Sister Mary Olga Fortitude

Today I begin a series of interviews with authors talking about their main characters. What makes these characters tick? How did the author develop their personalities and quirks?

Today we are talking to Davis Aujourd’hui, author of "Babes in Bucksnort", about his main character, Sister Mary Olga Fortitude, the unconventional bourbon-swilling, chain-smoking nun.
Your new novel, "Babes in Bucksnort", is the first sequel to your Sister Mary Olga Fortitude series.

What inspired you to write this story?

Davis: That's easy! When I finished "The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude", I hadn't run out of ideas for future, outrageously funny books like my current book, "Babes in Bucksnort". My creative juices were flowing and I was on a roll.

As you may not know, I developed the characters many years ago in order to entertain a colleague of mine when I had been a social worker. She absolutely loved the characters and that spurred me on to developed more deliciously dysfunctional ones.

When I retired, I thought to myself that I could write a book. One led to another. I've been gratified by the rave reviews which has only served to further inspire me to write more books. I have currently written a total of eleven books with which to further entice my readers with entertaining humor interspersed with nuggets of spiritual wisdom.

Your previous book, "The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude", was quite a hoot and it was all because of the Sister nun herself. How did you ever come up with this character?

Davis: It was pure inspiration. One day, I thought of the character and left a voice-mail for my colleague. The following day at work, she listened to the message with curiosity. Then she took one look at me and burst into a cascade of laughter.

I have always loved zany humor. This has been a life-saver for me amidst a life filled with much pain. I love to mix it up and to be irreverent, just like the good, bourbon-swilling, chain-smoking nun. I am also a student of spirituality. I use my character to inspire others to wake up to their own spirits.

This has turned out to become a quest for me. I believe we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. As we embrace our spirits, life will become filled with the joy that we deserve to experience. I love to use humor to wake people up to their potential for joy.

What is it about Sister Mary Olga Fortitude that people just love?

Davis: People love her because she is all too human. She's not afraid to show her warts as well as her holiness. She has a zest for life and knows how to make people laugh until their sides ache.

Yes, she has some nasty little habits just as we all do. She loves her booze and her cigarettes which constantly gets her into trouble with her Reverend Mother, a reformed prostitute. This contrast provides for more delicious entertainment.

After all, life is all about contrast. From it, we can discern what we want to keep and what we want to give up.

Does Sister Mary Olga ever get rid of her nasty habits? Do you expect me to give away all of my secrets? You'll just have to keep reading. There's much more joy to come.
Is there anything about her that would make people go, “No way!”

Davis: Perhaps. How many nuns have large, hollow crucifixes with a flip-top which serve as flasks for bourbon? Sister Mary Olga has one. She's a sneaky little angel.

Perhaps some will think she's too full of herself as she teaches her classes in Advanced Holiness. What my readers need to understand is that we are all only too human. Such is the case with Sister Mary Olga. As my series continues, she is forced to look at her own foibles. Her choice is to stay stuck or to practice what she preaches.

Did the character develop more as you wrote the book or did you have a pretty good feeling of how she was going to turn out?

Davis: My character is like all of us. Nothing is constant in the human experience. Life forces us to take a look at ourselves and offers us the opportunity to grow. Such is the case with Sister Mary Olga.

As for my ability to determine what would become of her in my future books, I let inspiration lead the way. Humor was always my main goal in entertaining my readers, but I had an underlying motive as well. That was to wake people up to their own spirits as they read my hilarious books. Just like Sister Mary Olga, I'm sneaky too.

If you were going to develop a character sketch for the Sister, what would you say are her strengths and weaknesses?

Davis: Her strengths lie within her belief that we all have a potential to grow. Unfortunately, some people such as my character, Priscilla Bunhead, continue to stay stuck. Such is not the case with Sister Mary Olga. She continues to be confronted by the other characters in the book who challenge her to take a look at herself. Is this fun for her? Some of it is painful, but it is always entertaining.

Her weaknesses are also her strengths, just as it is for all of us. She, like us, is only human. When we can embrace our humanity, we can let go of that which no longer serves us and affirm those strengths we wish to possess.

The trick is to do it without judging ourselves. That's where humor comes in handy. If we can't laugh at ourselves, woe be to us. We don't need to beat ourselves up. We need to believe in our potential and to simply wake up to it. We also need to let our spirits rather than our egos guide us. This is a continuing lesson for the good sister.

Okay, shall I be more specific about her weaknesses and strengths? She is an addict. She can be judgmental. She can be holier than Thou. Yet she is an ongoing student of life. She learns from her child students and her adult babes. She may be a teacher of holiness, but just like us all, she is also a student of the human experience.

Would you say the Sister related well to people?

Davis: That's a challenge for her. She does have her pet peeves. She doesn't like her Reverend Mother against whom she holds a grudge. She can't believe that a former prostitute beat her out for the reverend mother position. This is an example of how she has judged others.

She also has a problem relating to others who practice judgment such as the prudish Priscilla Bunhead. This is where Sister Mary Olga needs to take a look in the mirror at her own ego. It can block her from seeing how she's not that much different from other humans who cast judgments.

The bottom line is that she is willing to admit her mistakes once she wakes up to them. She is a student of life and a practitioner of the Golden Rule. She believes in practicing what she preaches. This is her lesson to us all. If only we did unto others as we wished they would do unto us, life would be a bowl of cherries, minus the sour pits.

If there were a movie made out of "Babes in Bucksnort", who would play Sister Mary Olga?

Davis: Ah, that's a good one! I'd love to have one of the comedic giants of the day play her. My first thought was to cast Bette Midler, but her agent turned me down. Rosie O'Donnell or Ellen DeGeneres would be other good choices. Even so, I think the overlooked talent of Sally Struthers would be a natural. I recently saw her perform in a summer stock production of Legally Blond. Sally played a character to the hilt. She'd do good justice to Sister Mary Olga.

Besides the Bible, what other reading material would be on Sister Mary Olga’s bed stand?

Davis: She'd be an avid reader of spiritual and humorous books. She'd love Anthony DeMello, Eckhardt Tolle, and Deepak Chopra. She might wrestle with Wayne Dyer, but she'd love Armistead Maupin and Carl Hiassen.

What would say are the Sister’s passions?

Davis: Well, of course, she loves her bourbon and her Marlboros. More than anything, she loves the teachings of Jesus concerning unconditional love. She loves teaching about letting go of the human ego and embracing spirit which is only about joy, peace, and love. Above all, she loves humor which will lead us all to our own joy.

If you would meet Sister Mary Olga in person, what would she say to you about how you portrayed her in the book?

Davis: She'd say, “You hit the nail right on the head!”

Finally, if Sister Mary Olga had a few words of wisdom for my readers, what would she say?

Davis: That's easy! She'd say, “If you practice the Golden Rule, you wouldn't need the Ten Commandments.

Author Davis Aujourd Blog:

The Funniest Satire Series of the Decade Blog:

"The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude" is available in Paperback for $13.95 and can be PURCHASED HERE.! Also, available in Kindle Format for $3.99 and be PURCHASED HERE!

"Babes in Bucksnort" is available in Paperback for $13.95 and can be PURCHASED HERE! Also available in Kindle Format for $3.99 and you can PURCHASE HERE!

I hope you all enjoy,

Davis Aujourd'hui

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