We promise we will get back to our regularly scheduled posting sooner or later. S has been having her summer vacation, though, and celebrating her birthday. So we’ve been doing important birthday activities like eating brownie cake and watching episodes of Da Vinci’s Demons and The Musketeers (both marvelous, cheesy-good-fun shows, if you haven’t seen them).
My present for S was a novel. This has become something of a tradition for us. It started some years ago, when I gave her the first section of My Private War as a surprise present. And then, once I was done with all six parts of MPW, I kept writing new stories for special occasions. Obviously, at this point it’s not really a surprise when I do it anymore, though S likes surprises, so I try to keep her in the dark about the story I’m writing as much as possible.
We’ve just finished reading her birthday story, Red Sand Girl, which is the origin story for one of my favorite recent characters, a sorceress named Pallavi. She’s turned up in a number of our books in the last few years: A Fatal Humor, Last Outpost, and The Last Bright Angel. And she’s mentioned in The Leopard’s Claw, as well. So I decided to write about how she discovered her magical powers, and how she became the awesome character we see in the later books.
This involved what you might call a process of backwards extrapolation. If I wanted her to have a character arc in the story, I had to start with Pallavi the way we’d seen her before, and make her as different as possible from that at the beginning of Red Sand Girl. She’s a highly accomplished sorceress in the later books, whereas when we first meet her in this new book, she’s only just starting to discover her powers, and she doesn’t really know what’s going on. That’s only the most obvious example, though. In books I’ve already written that take place later in her life, for example, she has a certain bawdy, no-nonsense quality to her; she will literally say anything to anyone. So in the new book, I had her start out timid and scared of offending people. In the later books, she is known for having a string of affairs, and she doesn’t take romance terribly seriously. Thus, in the new book, she starts out with a single, very serious boyfriend, whom she is convinced is the love of her life, and whom she desperately wants to marry. In the later books, she is very self-confident, and she will not take crap from anyone. So in this new book, she starts out as a bit of a doormat. In the course of the story, hopefully, the reader can see her start to find herself and become the Pallavi we know and love.
Anyway, that’s what we’ve been up to. We’ll be back soon to continue our countdown of best fantasy characters.