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.


About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and 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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