Dispatches from the desk # 11: writing old characters

I’ve hit the point in the current project where some characters from Blackdog get into the story. It’s interesting to be returning to them, to see how, a year later, they’ve been changed by what went before. Some tempers have cooled, but others’ grudges have been brooded on. I’ve always liked Ivah; I’m enjoying her return. I found it awkward, at first, though, because I kept thinking of her as a girl, a teenager. Aside from her first appearance at the fall of Lissavakail, she wasn’t that even in Blackdog; by the time she went out hunting the goddess for her father, she was in her early twenties, and yet emotionally, she was still very much a child, utterly quashed and shaped by her father, and her own bodyguard played on that and contributed to it. Ivah was one of those people who have fossilized at a certain age. In her head she seemed about thirteen, and I’ve been having a hard time making myself treat her as more than about sixteen. Every now and then you meet someone in real life who has been emotionally crippled by a parent that way, kept a child on some psychological level. Trying to remember myself, and to show, that she’s broken with that and is desperately and consciously trying to be her own girl — woman — was a challenge at first, but I’ve gotten well into it now and the fact that Ivah is consciously trying to shape her own life, thinking, “No, I won’t do that, I can’t be that person, I won’t,” is helping.

I also thought that I had everything in my head but I find I keep having to go back to the file of the previous book to do searches on words that I hope will bring up the details I’ve forgotten. It makes me appreciate very much that I’ve always written on a computer, when I imagine leafing back and forth through a five-hundred page books trying to find just where it was I described Westgrasslander tattoos, or what colour some secondary character’s hair was. It’s easy to see why authors lose track of these things and end up with inconsistencies and contradictions.

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About KV Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and the forthcoming Gods of Nabban, epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at thewildforest.wordpress.com
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