Riley Janacek is the heroine in my cyberpunk romance novella Unsecure Connection, which debuts soon. So what’s her deal?
She’s a hacker who goes by the handle LaReineTX2, which stands for Queen of Tarrytown. You don’t call yourself that unless you think you’re the best, or pretty close to it. When we meet her, she’s hacking into a corporate database for a list of passwords. Only it turns out someone else is in the system, monitoring her. That’s CJ, the hero of the story. Well, more like an anti-hero, but we’ll get to him tomorrow.
Riley is kind of paranoid. I can’t really blame her, considering her line of work. Basically until the last page of the story, she won’t tell CJ her name. He knows her handle. And he knows one of her aliases, Samantha McTavish. And since he doesn’t have anything else to call her, he starts to think of her as Samantha. I can tell you other things about Riley, for instance that she is sarcastic and that she has a messy apartment. (Both my characters do. I like to think it’s what brings them together. Just kidding… although there is a moment where they talk about their dirty dishes growing mold.)
I don’t always imagine out my characters’ appearances that much. I know Riley has blue hair and a lot of implants in her arms and neck. I know she cares more about what she looks like in virtual reality than in real life, mainly because her work and her social life don’t tend to be in real life. She has multiple avatars… one for socializing, one for gaming, and I’m assuming another one for meeting clients, although we don’t see that one in the story.
In this excerpt, CJ considers Riley’s different avatars and what they might say about her:
Each of her avatars had similar features, but just enough was different about them. Her social avatar had bigger breasts than the real Samantha. She also dressed a lot more daringly. CJ remembered the little skirt from that first night. This avatar had muscular arms and a sturdier figure. And, he couldn’t help noticing, an ass that looked great in those military pants with the pockets. She wore a bandana tied like a headband across a forehead that sported a jagged white scar running from the left side down onto her cheek. This Samantha was pretty bad-ass. Like the other one and like the real Samantha, it had blue hair.
He wondered what her avatars said about her. The real Samantha was too skinny to even be called by more flattering words, like slender. In fact, scrawny would have been the most appropriate, but even CJ wasn’t stupid enough to say that to a woman he wanted to sleep with again. Was her Killblock avatar her attempt at experiencing what it was like to be physically powerful? And her social avatar that he’d seen in Slash was an exploration of what it would be like to be sexy? That thought sobered him. Was that what she saw about her real-world self? Things she longed to change? Because she was powerful and sexy just the way she was. To him, anyway.
Or maybe he was reading too much into it. It didn’t have to be either a massive wish-fulfillment fantasy or just a game. The truth might be any shade of gray in between those two extremes, he realized.