Like several other of my books, the Astrid Maxxim books came about through my attempt to recapture the pleasure I had as a kid. In this case, it was from reading Tom Swift Jr. books. I set out very deliberately to create a cast of characters for my story.
Astrid Maxxim: Astrid was my star. Her name literally means Major Star. She would be my youthful inventor. She’s intelligent, brave, honest, and a tiny bit insecure, at least at first. The one thing about Tom Swift that I didn’t want in my own story was his lack of growth. He was always the same. Astrid grows older with each book, a bit wiser, and a lot more self-confident. She’s on her way to becoming a remarkable woman.
Toby Bundersmith: Toby is Astrid’s boyfriend and confidant. He’s always steady and reliable, really the male version of Astrid. Instead of science, he leans toward politics. Though clearly the heroic type, he never steals the limelight from Astrid. She’s the real hero in the end. I liked the idea of this handsome, nearly perfect guy, with a slightly funny last name.
Denise Brown: One of Astrid’s best friends, Denise is brassy and in your face. She says what she means, and can be pretty self-centered, but she’s still got a heart of gold. She is the child of gay parents and has an older brother named Dennis. She probably didn’t get as much attention growing up as the other members of her family.
Christopher Harris: Christopher is super smart and is constantly competing with Astrid to be the future valedictorian. Christopher is African-American, but doesn’t fall into the stereotype of being an athlete. Although strong and resourceful, he is extremely poor at any game that involves a ball. He’s a computer expert, and though he hasn’t really done any hacking, we get the impression he would be good at it.
Valerie Diaz: Valerie is shy, sweet, and a bit fearful. She’s beautiful, with a head of thick black hair that is her pride and joy. Her hispanic heritage is a strong part of her character.
Robot Valerie: Valerie is a copy of Regular Valerie, programmed with her thoughts and memories. I knew I wanted a robot as a main character, but for a long time, I thought it was going to be Robot Denise. I guess Denise had enough on her plate.
Austin Tretower: Austin starts out as the new kid in school. He’s awkward, and kind of goofy. He’s closer to a real kid than any of the others, and as the only one who didn’t grow up in Maxxim City, he is our way to compare life there with the real world.