Thursday, August 11, 2011

Character conversations: Kate

We're still under the hood of my fantasy epic. I've been writing a bit ("Ansehen" in my writing progress bar) to try to get myself out of my science fiction voice and into my fantasy voice -- they're quite different -- plus get to know my main cast again. That's the best way to do it, IME, to jump in the lake and figure out what swimming stroke works best for the situation. It's been a long time. I'm a different person now, and having re-read the whole monstrosity I have opinions about what I did wrong (and right) with my characters.

Let's start at the top with my first-person narrator, Kate Carpenter. I googled "character interview questions" and got a lot of dull, predictable lists but I think we can squeeze some fun out of them so here goes. 

1. Eating habits--granola cruncher, junk-food junkie?

(Kate laughs) Put food in front of me and I eat it. I know I was fortunate, as a child -- Father earned enough as a master carpenter that we usually had something to eat. Porridge, at least. Bread, often, though it was flatbread in the winter. The dough doesn't rise so much when it's cold, even if you keep it near the fire.

I could write a whole blog post wondering why I'm so bad at finding 
reference photos for my female characters. I owe them all an apology.
This is Buttercup from Princess Bride, she's my physical ref for Kate.
You grew up a peasant girl, the oldest of four surviving children. Your mother was also a midwife. That must've contributed to the household earnings? 

Yes, and far more help after Father died.

2. Hobbies? Activities?  Crafts?  Sports?  Collect anything?

(She laughs again) I own two dresses, three shifts, four pairs of socks, and a wool shawl. Do they have any idea how long it takes to wash all of that?

No underwear? 

Do I have to wash it?

You didn't have much sense of humor, last time around. I think it's an improvement. Question three: Did you change much after high school? Let's adjust that to "what schooling you got," since you're only sixteen when the story begins.

When I received my Blessing, (Blessings are received at twelve) which marked me a disciple of Saint Qadeem, the Order placed me in the novitiates' school. I knew some arithmetic, thus had a little lead on the other peasant children. By the end of that two years, thanks to my Blessing, I was reading Alemmani, speaking a fair bit of Russe, and managing some calculations. My writing... was tolerable.

And you already knew how to deliver a baby, thanks to your mother. 

Yes, that's some of why, Master Parselev told me, I drew his attention.

That and your schooling did lead to a big change for you, didn't it?

(she nods, sadness twisting her mouth for a moment) My first disagreement with Father. I was old enough to marry, then, and he'd arranged a good match. Harold and I knew each other, we got on well. As good a match as I could hope for. (a sad shrug) Master Parselev offered me apprenticeship. To study medicine, the highest calling of Qadeem's disciples... and with the one elect in the kingdom, even. I had never disagreed with Father before. Never fought him.

Never thought of yourself as ambitious, did you. 

No. (with a nervous smile) I'm a peasant girl, there's no ambitions to be had. Food on the table and healthy babies, is all. But I could do so much more, once I knew how. Help so many more.

So tell us how that was resolved. 

The piglet died. Father bought a piglet, a good breeding sow, for my dowry. I was to marry Harold that Midwinter. But snow came early that year, very early, and the piglet took sick. Father brought her in stiff and frozen one morning, and that settled that. He signed my apprenticeship to Master Parselev a few days later.

And that's why I called the first part of your story For Want of a Piglet. Too bad the rest of the volume titles didn't live up to that. So in short, a little education changed everything for you. 

My Blessing changed everything. Saint Qadeem takes few disciples, and one should not question the saints' choices. Maybe I will have the chance to ask why it was me, someday.

More notes: I've posted a few world-building thoughts so far and there are sure to be more. If there's something you'd like to hear thoughts about, feel free to ask!

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