March 14, 2018

Creating Characters for Outcast Shadows and Recast Light

If you recall, I wrote a post explaining the origins of the main cast of Miscast Spells, so I thought it only fitting to do the same for those characters who appear in Outcast Shadows and Recast Light.

Though we are introduced to the adorable Misha in Outcast Shadows, he actually makes his first appearance in Miscast Spells, wearing a cloak that covers his face. This appearance was based largely on Nekozawa in Ouran High School Host Club (a manga I wholeheartedly recommend). As for the rest of him... I'm not too sure, really. I've always loved apothecary/potion-making types, so I think that's why I wrote the scene where he sells Delilah memories, but in the very earliest drafts, he was in no way connected to Sebastian. I think that connection formed because, during the embryonic stages of the main story, before I had nailed down any sort of plot, I thought that perhaps Misha could end up being the villain (I mean, most apothecary/potion-making types are, at one point in a story or another), but that idea got scrapped fast. So I thought, well, maybe he could be assisting the villain, so one thing led to another, and there you are.

Dolly's appearance came from a goat-girl I sketched while waiting around for a college class to start. Her personality, however, was borrowed from an idea I had for a hapless druidess who would be a very minor antagonist in a fantasy, similar in plot relevance (though not personality) to Slayers Next's Martina. Incidentally, Slayers Next is also what inspired the love potion bit, because I wondered how a love potion would play out for a Zelgadis-esque character. As I predicted, hilarity would ensue.

As you've likely noticed by now, I consume a lot of anime. And I mean A LOT. And if you aren't familiar, let me tell you that many anime deal with black magic (and sometimes alchemical) human experimentation. Fullmetal Alchemist is of course known for this, but Slayers and the Slayers novels do so, too. This all percolated in my brain, as did my darling Lewis Carroll's essay, “Some Popular Fallacies About Vivisection”, which is, well, about vivisection, and why it's wrong, and specifically about how the reasons often cited for it being wrong are not the real reasons for it being wrong. Long story short, this sort of experimentation--on humans or otherwise, and with magic or not--caught my fancy, so I decided to incorporate it into my story.

Alistair is of course the ringleader of the students, and I wanted him to have a good reason (well, as good a reason as one can have) for what he was doing, hence his parents being doctors. I wanted to balance out his coldness with Jurek's kindness. And as for Inez, well...

Inez was originally an expositional character. That is, she was the nerdy girl who liked to over explain things to her peers so that I could over explain things to the audience. And that was it. In fact, that and helping Jurek in chapter 6 was all she did. “But doesn’t that not explain a huge aspect of her character?” those of you who have read the books ask. Yes, because originally, there was another character, a fourth member of the main student group who was the one involved with Sebastian. But she was kind of boring, and lacked a personality. She was good for the plot, but I didn't like writing her, so I nixed her. But I still needed that stuff to happen, so I glanced around and spotted Inez. Could this minor expositional character work? She had an interesting personality, and would have even more interest in Sebastian because of his intelligence. It fit, and that's something authors are always looking for.

Alcea (Major spoilers: highlight to read)

If you’ve read Outcast Shadows (and if you haven’t DON’T READ THIS!!!!), you’ll know that Alcea is actually the creature on in the cave in the Gammon Archipelago. That was her original form, and that creature was originally just a minor stop on the map-collecting adventure, similar to the king of Catawampus or the kobolds. For her sea cave, I think I was going for a sort of Odyssey type of thing. She was so cool and creepy, though, that I wanted more from her, and her being an immortal beast lent itself to that. Next, I had to come up with her motivation: why does she care about all of these manufactured immortal people, or ex-immortal people? Well… Recast Light will address that a bit more, but suffice it to say that it all worked out to make what I consider quite a compelling villain.

The Chiaroscurans

Most of the Chiaroscurans—Danika,Heidi, Cecil—were generated entirely to serve the purpose of the plot in one way or another. I knew Misha had a sister, but why not make her a little mad-science-y. Heidi is something of Millicent’s opposite, since she hates cleaning (but to be fair, the Empyreal Palace is much larger than Styx Castle). And Cecil, well, I needed a guard, and thought the whole schtick with the maid test would be funny. As for the Empress and Augustus (who will appear in Recast Light), I have no idea. I can usually tell where the idea for a character’s appearance or habits or something came from, but these two somehow sprang fully formed, as is. Mostly, anyway. Their long and complicated backstories that don’t appear in the book came from hours of daydreaming/fanfic-ing about further adventures down the road.

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