Althea's Ghosts and Isra's Impulses

The time has come to delve into the history of Althea. She is a fascinating character to flesh out. She is, on one hand, probably the most emotionally stable and capable member of the group. On the other, one gets the feeling that she is teetering right on the edge and is totally capable of burning it all to the ground if the mood strikes her wrong.

I don't exactly remember where Althea's urge to steal came from. Very early in this process, I remember flipping through some table-top gaming books for character ideas (yes, I am a nerd) and I think it was just something I threw in. Imagine me surrounded by a pile of books jotting shit down on in a notebook muttering, "Let's see, compassionate... er... high medical skills. Obviously. Oooh! Kleptomania! Hell yeah!"

 Most of the characters ended up with a litany of traits, most of which got purged when I actually sat down to write the bloody books.

Yet, somehow, Althea's compulsion was a strange idea that stuck around. And mostly because, one some level, it doesn't fit. Kind, caring people don't normally want to steal other people's shit. That makes them cry.

On another level, as a contrasting character to Viekko, it makes perfect sense. It's the two sides of the same coin idea; same person just expressed in totally different ways.

But I knew there would have to be a time when I explained this in a way that made some bloody sense. It came surprisingly easy. It was one of those scenes that practically wrote itself and fleshed out this duality that Althea seems to live with.  It's also one of the more heartbreaking things I've ever sit down and try to imagine. To this day, I don't know what I think of Ethan Fallon, but he's weirdly one of my most intriguing minor characters.


One of my biggest challenges in writing this book was trying to balance what I needed Isra to do with what Isra would do. I hate plot-driven fiction when it steamrolls over the characters. Most everyone has seen or read something along these lines. The characters and plot are chugging along. And then, for no reason, the character CHANGES! Just out of the blue.

Like there will be a character, and for whatever reason, he has a thing. Let's say she hates fish. And then cut to the next scene, and she is going to town on a halibut fillet. And you're watching her devour it like a bear on a March morning with a confused look. And the next chapter, BAM! Mercury poisoning.

And the reader is left pondering, "Okay, yes, I see. If she didn't get mercury poisoning, then she would have never tried to cure it with the radioactive juju ring and accidentally turn the king into a wolf spider in the process but still, what the figgity fuck! She hates fish!

Well, at least she did until the plot needed her to like it.

That kind of shit irritates me. And this first draft had a lot of it.

Without going into too much detail and spoiling the next few chapters, my original draft had Isra pretty much going completely off the rails. I think one of the best things about Saturnius Mons was that every character practically had their own set of ideals and their own agendas. So I ramped that up a little for Templum Veneris.

With Isra, I went too far at first, and that's all that I am going to say about it.

Except that, in the process, I got to know that deeper side of Isra. That almost preternatural ability to not only read people but read her environment. I picture her having that strange innate ability humans have to just know something is not right, but ramped up to... like... a thousand.

And I like this growing feeling that something is terribly awry in Cytherean culture. I mean there is a lot obviously wrong but I like the idea that there is something even deeper and, yet, somehow is right in plain sight.


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