It’s been about five years since I first began writing Fire and Blood. It has quite the cast of characters. Some are native Tarskans. Some call the Plains of Artemis home. Some hail from the Kingdom of Seduma. They are all Raians. And more importantly, they are all broken in some way or another. There are three people that I’ve mainly been stalking in this world. Murin, Aldin and Torek. At first I thought it was just her story, but then the other two started clamoring for attention.
It’s hard enough to know some one in “real life”. And I mean to REALLY know them. To write a person as real is just as, if not more, difficult. A psychology degree seriously wouldn’t hurt, along with thousands of hours of strictly academic observation. Point being there are natural barriers to getting to know someone on the page, just as in life.
Murin and Aldin, I get them. They grapple with understanding the world just as they struggle to understand themselves. They still manage to surprise me, but fundamentally, at their core, I know who they are, what they yearn for, what drives them batty. They are my fragile darlings. My little misfits.
Torek, on the other hand, is much more difficult. Superficially mature, seemingly worldly. I’ve spent five years with this character, and I’m only now coming to understand him. It seems so stupid and weird to me to create a character who I don’t understand. Maybe it’s because I didn’t want to, for a variety of reasons. He is a coward in some respects. He runs from responsibilities. He has a big swagger and talks a big game, but when it comes down to it, he is afraid to be in his own scarred skin. He’s afraid of what lurks in the future. He’s afraid of a life with purpose and meaning. He thinks he’s something more, but at every turn he actively rejects that “something more”. The tension between how he projects, and the sad little creature he is inside has come across flat in the book, for the most part. Perhaps now that I know his game, I’ll be better able to trap him on the page, peel back his layers and reveal his vulnerability.
It’s a delicious thing, to be vulnerable. Not because it’s easier to be hurt (although that is true). Rather, for some people, it’s because once all the armor dissolved, once the fetters have come undone, only then are we free to transform.