In Goddess Interrupted, Aimée Carter continues the true-love-never-ran-smooth romance between recently-married rulers of the underworld Kate (newly immortal) and Henry (better known to some as Hades).
As enthralling as the romance is, we really love the friend and frenemy dynamic among the girls of Carter’s series. In Goddess Interrupted–which you can start reading on Figment now!–it’s Kate and Persephone who must work together, despite the serious case of sibling rivalry they’re struggling with. (Marrying your sister’s ex-husband of several hundred years? It’ll cause some strain.)
In The Goddess Test—the first book in Carter’s series—Ava (a.k.a. Aphrodite) and Kate (not a girl, not yet a goddess) have a few run-ins before they swap bestie bracelets. Here, Aimée gave us a few pointers about how to write a complex, layered frenemy relationship.
Frenemies: most of us have at least one. The people you pretend you’re friends with, but really can’t stand. Or maybe it’s your frenemy who can’t stand you. Or maybe something happened long ago, and you can’t remember what it was, but the one thing you know for sure is that something did happen. And instead of working it out, you find that it’s so much easier to smile and wave while silently seething.
Frustrating as those people can be in real life, I love writing these kinds of relationships—the ones where neither person is entirely supportive of the other, and maybe they’re even eager to see each other fail. A lot of what makes a story interesting is the conflict, and when two characters who can’t stand each other are thrown together, all sorts of exciting things can happen. Especially if they’re forced to work together toward the same goal.
One of my favorite parts about writing The Goddess Test, the first book in the series, was the friendship between my protagonist, Kate, and a girl named Ava. At first glance, Ava appears to be your stereotypical mean girl—dating the most popular boy in school, captain of the cheerleading squad, etc. But when a prank she pulls goes horribly wrong, Kate must choose between saving Ava’s life and risking her own, creating a strong moment of character development. Even though Kate can’t swim, she dives into a river to keep Ava from drowning, creating a bond between them that isn’t at all what either girl initially expected. While they wind up good friends, Kate never gets over Ava’s botched stunt. And because of this, she suspects Ava of some pretty terrible things, and their friendship remains on shaky ground throughout the story.
Ava’s character tends to divide readers (and other characters in the series). Some love her, some hate her, but either way, she tends to inspire some pretty strong emotions. At the root of those emotions is her relationship with Kate. Ava often brings out the worst in her—though sometimes she brings out the best, too—and through their tumultuous friendship, we see a side of Kate that we wouldn’t otherwise get to see, adding another layer to her character. Because of Ava, Kate’s forced to make choices that speak volumes about who she is, allowing the reader to get to know her in a way that’s more entertaining than an info-dump or moment of exposition disguised as self-reflection.
The great thing about this type of conflict is that a character doesn’t have to be a love interest or an obvious villain to make the tension work. By exploring different kinds of relationships—relationships we see every day and experience for ourselves—you can add a whole new dimension to your protagonist’s world. And not only can frenemies be a great tool to broaden your story, but they can also be crazy fun to write. You never know what sort of things you’ll discover about your characters along the way.