Character Forge: How Leeka created Victor and Alina in “The Mating Run”

Well-written characters are crucial for readers to connect emotionally with a story. A character’s backstory, motives, and personality play a significant role in this connection as readers will either love or hate them. You can’t feel indifferent when characters are crafted with care and attention to detail.

In the new blog series on AlphaNovel called the ‘Character Forge’, we will discuss the process of creating compelling characters. We will explore what distinguishes a great character and how to develop realistic protagonists, villains, friends, and lovers.

For the first episode of ‘Character Forge’, we interviewed Leeka, the author of “The Mating Run” and “Tale As Old As Time“. Leeka is not only a writer, but she also holds a degree in psychology, so understanding human nature – is her professional skill.

During our conversation, we asked Leeka about her process for developing characters in her stories, read it below⭐

Pick two of your favorite characters from your books. How do they stand out from the others?

Alina Mockett

Alina Mockett is the main character of the “Mating Run”. She’s a woman who is indecisive about her ambitions and lacks a clear vision for her life. To have some control over her life, she decided to take part in the Mating Run, where at least one choice would be handed to her on a silver platter.

Alina is an optimistic and energetic person, always seeing the bright side of things, although her best friend Ettie believes it may not always be the best mindset. In general, she displays empathy and friendliness towards those she comes across, and she is always willing to aid or stand up for anyone who treats her with kindness or requires assistance. In games such as the Mating Run, displaying kindness can be both advantageous and disadvantageous to winning, which Alina is bound to experience.

At first glance, Alina Mockett may seem unremarkable, but she has a strong determination to survive when faced with adversity. Being in the presence of her friend Ettie, who possesses both intelligence and beauty, has always made her feel inadequate. When the story begins and the two characters find themselves in conflict, Alina’s jealousy, despite her attempts to suppress it, escalates dramatically. As a result, her inferiority complex and jealousy heavily influence her choices throughout the story, and this is not a beneficial combination.

Victor Craft

Victor Craft is one of the supporting characters of the Mating Run. He’s the son of the Alpha of Springcrest Pack, and is famous for his charm and charisma. While he presents himself as carefree and jovial, there is often a hidden darkness lurking beneath his facade of artificial kindness. Despite his laid-back demeanour, he maintains a constant state of alertness, skilfully manipulating his words to get whatever it is he pleases. His goal is to break free from the life his father has meticulously planned for him, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it. That’s why he opted to join the Mating Run, even though it goes against the established rules.

Victor Craft displays charm towards those he can benefit from while being openly mocking, loud, and sarcastic towards others. Seeking to avoid the obligations thrust upon him and rebel against the life his father had mapped out, he disregarded the rules and enrolled himself in the Mating Run. He knows very well that his name gives him an advantage in how people treat him, and he is more than willing to take advantage of it and manipulate situations to get what he desires.

In the course of the story, he consistently makes choices that are both questionable and truly terrible – but if we were in his position, we would most likely make the same decisions. Victor Craft, as his name implies, is the most probable character to emerge victorious among all the characters in the story.

“Victor is known for his thoughtful approach to decision-making, unlike Alina, whose choices are primarily influenced by her emotions. While Victor may be considered the smarter of the two, it is Alina’s relatable actions that truly resonate with readers”.


What’s the origin story of the character you feel is the most complex one?

The way I initially imagined Victor Craft, in my mind, I did not portray him as an antagonist. I still don’t consider him to be an antagonist. The characters in my novel, ‘The Mating Run’, are designed to act as their own antagonists, mirroring the concept of survival of the fittest. Victor was born out of my desire to create a character that would encapsulate the darkest aspects of mankind, those individuals willing to manipulate and harm others to fulfill their ambitions. While it may not be the conventional choice, could you honestly say you wouldn’t do the same in times of extreme difficulty?

To develop Victor’s character, I immersed myself in numerous survival horror books, including works such as ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding and ‘The Grace Year’ by Kim Liggett. I particularly relished the opportunity to craft a character who defies conventional expectations and isn’t confined to doing only good deeds.

How do you balance the mix of flaws and strengths in a character to create someone who feels real and deeply human?

It may sound cliché, but the characters I write are often a mix of the complex ones I’ve encountered in various forms of media. I tend to dislike reading about characters in books who are overly nice and allow themselves to be taken advantage of. And I absolutely enjoy characters who are not burdened with sad backstories and are purely wicked for the sake of it.

“I believe that some individuals are naturally inclined towards evil, without any external influences leading to their behavior. Additionally, I believe that the people we admire for their kindness and pleasantness are harboring inner frustrations, just waiting for that one trigger that will unleash their true emotions”.


Contemplating these two factors during the process of character creation simplifies the task of developing individuals who can exhibit both kindness and cruelty. Allow yourself to showcase the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of your character without fear. Characters become relatable and human through their imperfections. Readers connect more with characters who go through challenges and mess things up, just like they do. In this manner, one can create a more compelling narrative by intertwining a character’s weaknesses with their strengths.

Take Victor Craft, for instance, who is highly manipulative to achieve his desires – he may find it challenging to trust others or accept assistance, as he assumes others share his mindset.

The depth of a character is often revealed through their relationships with others. How do you craft these interactions to reveal more about the character’s nature, fears, desires, and the world they inhabit?

My intention from the beginning was to include four distinct individuals in this story, each having their own unique experiences. It’s a given that in games such as the Mating Run, there will be winners and losers. All of them can’t have positive experiences, especially during games like this where they are at their lowest point. It’s easier for them to fail rather than succeed. They prioritize survival above all else, and their interactions reflect this.

The romantic and dramatic elements of the story typically take a backseat, while the excitement of pursuit takes center stage for my readers. The majority of their interactions are determined by their current position in the game; when they sense they are on the verge of winning, I prompt them to concentrate solely on themselves. And when the character feels like they are about to die, I make them so detestable that even the readers feel frustrated with them.

Every character has a life beyond what is shown on the page. Could you share an aspect or backstory of your character that didn’t make it into the final draft but influences how you think about them?

I didn’t focus too heavily on Victor’s difficulties with his father, as I believe in portraying them through actions rather than explicitly describing them. For Victor, his desire to discover his true self, following years of his father’s constant instructions and guidance, resulted in rebellious behavior. I cannot determine if he does these behaviors because he finds them enjoyable or simply to further frustrate his father.

The continuous demand for exceptional performance and the weight of others’ expectations have a profound influence on his actions. As a result, he tends to go against the established norms, as he is the type of person who would choose to endure extreme difficulties rather than submit to imposed authority.

This is the first article in a series of conversations with AlphaNovel’s authors about the characters from their books. In the next article, we’ll talk not about characters but the art of creating catchy cliffhangers. Each month we’ll invite a new AlphaNovel author to talk about their craft and experience. If you have any suggestions for authors you would like to know more about, please send us an email with your recommendations 🙂

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