When the third book in the Dreamhouse Kings series, Gatekeepers, released in January, you had the chance to vote on which character you would like Bob to spotlight to celebrate the release of Timescape ~ voting was tied on Toria and Xander! So today, Bob shares some great insight into the youngest King sibling and tomorrow, Xander gets his turn in the spotlight!
Enjoy learning more about Toria and be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts, and appreciation, with Bob about this character.
Brief physical description
Toria, whose full name is Victoria King, is a nine-year-old girl. She has a bright smile, long, brown hair, and blue eyes, like her dad and brother Xander. She’s full of energy, but also a bit of a brainiac. She likes to read and learn things. In Whirlwind (Dreamhouse Kings, #5), when the family is trying to figure out more about Phemus—the big guy from the past who kidnapped Mom—she remembers that in My Fair Lady Professor Higgins claims he could tell where someone is from just by hearing them talk. That leads them back to the her Teddy Bear, Wuzzy, whose voice recorder captured Phemus’s voice in the first book. She’s the baby of the family, which includes her two brothers David, 12, and Xander, 15. In many ways, she’s very much a little girl. She likes to dress up her stuffed animals and have little parties with them, and she can’t sleep without her Fiona (from Shrek) nightlight. But as the story progresses, we realize she has abilities and qualities that makes her more valuable to the family’s fight to get Mom back than her Disney Princess nightgown and dimples would imply.
Through the first two books, the only Dreamhouse character for whom I had an actor in mind was Dad (I pictured Bruce Greenwood, who played the president in National Treasure: Book of Secrets and Captain Pike, Kirk’s boss, in the new Star Trek). Mostly, the others were compilations of people I knew. Then, my son Anthony went trick-or-treating in Hollywood with some friends. Among them was Adair Tishler, who plays Molly on Heroes. I found myself almost calling her Toria several times and realized she’s a lot like I pictured Toria—both physically and her bubbly personality. Adair is a very sweet girl, someone you want to make sure nothing ever bad happens to. That’s how I feel toward Toria and how her brothers feel. I hope readers feel the same.
Left: Adair & Anthony Liparulo
Your inspiration for the character
Certainly, a part of Toria comes from memories of my sister, Lynda, at that age. I’m five years older, so I was close to Xander’s age when she was nine. I remember the things about her that drove me crazy, primarily that she liked girl things and “little kid” things at a time when I had a more adult mindset, like being interested in cars and thinking of a career, and trying to find out who I was apart from my family, like Xander is. There’s probably no time in our lives when we’re more different from our siblings than when one is well into being a teenager and a brother or sister isn’t even ten yet. I tried to work that into Toria and Xander’s relationship.
I also remember the cool things about Lynda then: how lively she was, how she was so much more optimistic than I was. Toria’s like that. She sees the bright side of some very dark situations, but sometimes she has to work at it. In Frenzy (book #6), she feels sadness about Mom coming on and makes a conscious decision not to bring her down: “She thought about Mom coming home, her smile, how she’d sweep Toria up in her arms and hug her like she was never going to let go.” Also, I raised a daughter and put more than a little of Melanie into Toria’s personality.
Strengths and weaknesses
One of the things I’d identify as a strength could also be considered a quirk: she often acts like a little mom, wanting to take care of her family. With Mom gone, she cooks for them and tends to their wounds. When David chokes on eggs, she’s right there, patting him on the back. When Xander cuts his forehead getting away from Phemus, she’s more concerned about stopping the bleeding than she is eluding their pursuer. Of course there’s the flip side to that “acts like mom” coin: she tends to be bossy toward and overprotective of her brothers. But it’s all good. David and Xander sometimes act annoyed by her maternal behavior, but deep down, they love that she cares so much and reminds them of mom.
I like that she has complete faith in her brothers. She believes in her heart that they mean well and can do whatever they say they can. In Gatekeepers, when Xander asks her to go into the Civil War world because he believes that’s where Mom is, she’s all for it, even though she’s scared. Like the best laid plans, it doesn’t work out so well. I remember telling Lynda how much fun it would be to send her down a flight of wooden stairs on a beanbag chair. She ended up with a chipped tooth—not good, but not as bad as what almost happens to Toria when she listens to Xander.
One strength Toria has isn’t really something that’s her doing, except that she is who she is. She’s sort of the symbol of what the King family is fighting for (besides getting Mom back): sweetness, righteousness, and innocence. In the situation they find themselves in, with people trying to kill them and darkness pressing in on them, Toria is the light, the happy face and kind word when they need them.
She does tend to talk a lot. She rambles on about things happening to the family, as well as little facts that are connected in ways only she knows. And when she screams—yow!
I’m not sure Toria has any real quirks, except her optimism. When everyone else is falling apparent, she’s there looking for the bright side. She’s able to sleep when the others can’t. I suppose this unflappability can grow irksome after a while. Still, it’s a nice quirk to have.
Background to the story
The King family moves to a small town in northern California, so Dad could take a job as principal of the local middle and high school. (The boys go to that school, but Toria goes to a local elementary school.) They move into a run-down Victorian home, where they find a hidden hallway of doors. Each door leads to a portal to a different time in history. Trouble is, not only can they go from the house to the past, people from the past can come through into their house. Someone does—and kidnaps Mom, taking her into some unknown place in the past. The Kings—primarily David and Xander—begin a quest for Mom, which takes them to many dangerous and incredible places throughout time. Toria helps where she can—ending up in a different place in history a time or two—but mostly, she lends moral support. We slowly learn that the family is in the house for a very specific purpose and they must do much more than “simply” find their mother.
Fabulous, Bob ~ thanks for shedding light on the delightful Toria Maybe Anthony will be old enough to star in a movie about the Kings!!!
Be sure to come back tomorrow for our spotlight on Xander and enter the giveaway you won’t want to miss!
Relz Reviewz Extras Reviews of House of Dark Shadows, Watcher in the Woods & Gatekeepers
Character spotlight on David King
Exclusive interview with Bob