It’s very exciting to announce the publication of volume three in the RELIC MASTER quartet: THE HIDDEN CORONET. In this book I introduce a few new characters, and Raffi, Galen and the others finally start to learn some of the secrets of the mysterious Sekoi, and how to begin to correct the disintegration of Anara. Carys gets trapped in the Drowned Palace of Theriss, and Galen sees at last the face of one of the Makers, though perhaps not in the way he had wished. I hope readers who are still hanging on in this fast and furious journey will enjoy this installment!
In this blog I’d like to talk about characters. I notice when I get messages from readers there are two things they always respond to, and want to talk about. The first is concept- the big ideas of the book, the setting. This overall plan often gets people excited. But what engages readers, more than anything, I’m coming to think, is the way they relate to the characters, whether that’s liking them, hating them, finding them intriguing or just wanting to be them.
In the Relic Master set, I had my ideas for the two main characters from the start. The sorcerer and his (inept) apprentice is a really old idea; I wanted to take that and work with it a little, and see what would happen. Once I had the idea of the outlawed Order, and the powers of the keepers, I knew that Galen would be quite a bitter and haunted man. I liked that idea, because it would lead to a great deal of friction between him and Raffi. But it was only when a friend of mine suggested that Galen might have lost his magical abilities that I really saw him clearly. A proud, arrogant man, always secure in his beliefs, suffering such a terrible loss and doubt and then having to depend on a half-taught boy- he would really be interesting. So in the first book things are at their worst for him. And even the solution- his gaining the powers of the Crow- is a difficult one, because to have too much power might be just as hard to deal with as having too little. But Galen is more than bitter and reckless, I hope; he does have a great deal of compassion, and I wanted to bring that out a bit in Hidden Coronet, in the scenes after the Vortex in the town of Areto.
As for Raffi, he was pretty clear from the start. His fear, for one thing. He starts quite young; he is scared of death and torture, scared of the Watch, doubtful about whether he can ever live the life of a keeper. And yet something keeps him with Galen, when he might run away, and that must be some deep-seated love, and courage. Which I hope becomes clearer book by book, until in The Margrave….. But I can’t tell you about that yet! Raffi is also changed by his relationship with Carys, and the discovery that you can like someone who is completely opposite to you, and rubbishes all your deepest beliefs. I don’t think he’s ever come across someone like her before. Finally he becomes a strong, clear-sighted character, seeing Galen’s mistakes as well as his own.
Carys was a delight to write- I wanted to make her tricky, scheming, very determined; a high flyer but someone who pursues her own path. She doesn’t quite get the Makers, but she also is coming to loathe the Watch, and so she has to define her own truths. And of course she has a big dark hole at the centre of her life, because the Watch have taken her identity and her family, so she has to find something to replace them.
Finally, there’s the Sekoi. Inventing an alien race is the ultimate joy for a writer- anything is possible, as long as you can make the reader believe in it. The sekoi are cat-like, tall, seven-fingered, with a bizarre line in storytelling and their own, very secret lives. The sekoi in my story- whose name you never learn- is sardonic, world-weary and has a definite agenda of its own. It’s a great character to use to comment on the tangles that the humans get themselves into, and to have two very alien cultures confronting each other, with all their differences, and this comes to a climax at the end of the Margrave. (Again, can’t explain yet!) And where are the sekoi children, and why do obvious carnivores only eat fruit? Some mysteries remain, even to me!
Stories are told through people, their actions, their motivation, their hopes and fears. Readers link in with that, and I know from speculation about Incarceron and now Relic Master that they love to imagine further adventures for their favorite characters. Which is fine by me.
Enjoy book three. And next month, the final adventure, and the darkest most dangerous enemy of all- THE MARGRAVE!
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Author Juliet Blackwell joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about her latest release Hexes and Hemlines!
Bad Luck and Broomsticks
Have you ever noticed how most buildings skip the 13th floor?
Though we might think of ourselves as living in a scientific society, it’s amazing how superstitions still shape our lives: in Scotland there are no gates thirteen in airports; many airplanes have no row thirteen. Some streets skip over the address entirely. And there are lots of historic examples of bad luck being associated with thirteen: there were thirteen people at the last supper; Loki was the thirteenth fellow invited to a disastrous dinner at Valhalla; on Friday the thirteenth the Knights of the Templar were arrested and killed.