Meet the Characters
One of the things I love – and find fascinating – about writing fiction is that the characters really do “become” themselves in unexpected ways. More than once a character has developed a personality that changes my plans, and they end up shaping the story to suit themselves… In one case, the two people I thought were going to fall in love simply wouldn’t. In another, a background character upstaged the one I thought was the hero. Now that A Signal for Redemption is finished, I thought it would be fun to imagine how the characters would react if I asked them to introduce themselves.
Introductions never really had been his thing. Maybe it was his psi talent — because of his Empathic abilities Piers was used to feeling like he already knew people. He prefered to just jump in, to connect with the person without putting a label on that presence. Not the way the world worked, though. People wanted to know: what’s your name, where are you from, who’s your family, what do you do… and a thousand other things that were nothing but the incidental facts of life.
Still. That was how it was done, and he reminded himself that people who weren’t Empaths didn’t have access to the shortcuts he had. They had to get to know others from the outside in, and he didn’t want to be unfriendly. Of course it wasn’t like it happened all that often on Redemption — it was hard not to pretty much know who every one of the three thousand passengers was, more or less. Even if he didn’t know them, they probably knew who he was: the captain’s 28-year-old son.
Most of the time that’s all they really wanted to know anyway. They didn’t care that he was trained as a linguist, because that was how he was going to contribute to getting integrated with the planet’s society after they landed. Even those who knew he was psi wouldn’t really care that his strong Empathic abilities had kicked in ridiculously early and came with a price, but were the main reason why he was lucky enough to be chosen for the scout program. For sure they wouldn’t care about his feelings about all that. It had taken him a while to realize that for most people, certainly most non-Empaths, emotions were considered separate from identity — which wasn’t at all how it seemed to him.
On the planet, introductions became something altogether more challenging. He wouldn’t lie, but he couldn’t exactly launch into the truth without some careful preparation. The average stranger here, in a society that didn’t even have radio and certainly hadn’t rediscovered spaceflight, would probably be a little puzzled or alarmed if he just came out and said, “I’m Piers Haldon. I come from a starship that is in orbit over your planet — see that new star? — and I’m here because we absolutely need to land before the ship’s life support systems give out. By the way, do you know where I can find some Empaths down here?” So that meant offering minimal information and letting them decide for themselves, and just doing the best he could not too seem so odd that they decided he was insane.
It was a more difficult question than people meant it to be, Davyn thought. He never knew how to respond to any version of “who are you?” Beyond the existential aspects of the question, his personal challenge was that his own biography started with the unknown and more or less stayed there. He’d been found in a basket on a doorstep when he was about a year old, with nothing but a good luck charm and a dagger with him to represent whatever heritage he had. Even his name had to be a gift of charity from the people who found him.
He’d been raised on the Holden Estate, in the Cressidan Hills in Tyndaris. Lord Holden had taken an interest in him, because his son Van had settled on Davyn as a favorite companion when they were children. That had meant that even though he lived with the foster parents who had taken him in at Lord Holden’s request, Davyn spent most of his days at the manor. Van’s tutor had included him in lessons, as had the various masters who’d trained Van to use a sword, ride a horse, and be a suitable heir for one of Tyndaris’s Court families.
Consequently, he’d lost everything he knew when Van died in an accident. Lord Holden had no reason to keep treating Davyn as a member of his household, and he’d made that clear. Davyn tried to settle in as a farmer, working alongside his foster father, but it was never a likely plan. He’d been given a taste of a wider world, and it was in any case a little too painful to stay close to the life from which he’d been exiled. So about a year after Van’s death, Davyn rode away on a stallion that no one else had been able to manage since the accident. The horse, his sword, and the things from his basket were all he took with him.
He settled north of the border, in Merra. He found work and a home at a livery inn in the market town of Trint, and made that his new life. It was easier not to think about Holden or Van or the life he’d been expecting. Now he was twenty-one, and his days were usually spent caring for the horses, which he loved doing. In the evenings he helped in the tavern, and occasionally he’d ride the courier routes between towns. It was a good life, even though it wasn’t at all what he’d expected. The innkeeper and his family accepted him and he felt, in many ways, more at home with them than he ever had in Tyndaris.
Faced with the need to introduce himself, Davyn preferred not to talk about what used to be or what might have been, so he would simply offer the current truth. “I’m Davyn Ralen, stable master at the Crossroads Inn.”
Arissa of Aryn
Arissa always felt like she should introduce House Aryn before trying to introduce herself. People had heard of House Aryn, but it was the poorest and smallest of the Great Houses and misconceptions were too easy. Some people thought that since she was the youngest child of a Great House, she had an indolent and enviable life of no responsibilities. Others, who knew more about the geography of western Merra, wondered why she wasn’t desperate to leave the ancient House on the barren and inhospitable moor and set up somewhere else.
Well, they’d know better once they got to know her. House Aryn was terribly poor and had no luxuries to offer, but she loved the bleak isolation of the moor, where the sky shifted with clouds and the wind carried the wild ocean scent along in gusts that rippled the water of the tarn. She never wanted to leave.
In realistic moments, she knew someday she was going to have to go. She was eighteen now, and ought to be betrothed already. A House daughter should be a prize — but not in her case. Any man who took her on would get nothing for his trouble other than a deeply indebted brother-in-law and a bride who’d be constantly homesick.
Arissa’s older sister was about to be married to a town man (and oh, Arissa was tired of all the wedding preparations) and her brother, who came between the sisters in age, had become Head of House two years ago when he turned eighteen. Their father hadn’t changed the inheritance tradition before he died, when Arissa was twelve, so House Aryn had limped along for four years with the widowed Lady Aryn acting as Head of House only until her only male child came of age.
Her brother wasn’t that interested in being Head of House, and wasn’t very good at it, but he was too proud to just let her do it. Her mother stayed away from all responsibility, dwelling in memories. Her sister would soon be gone. So Arissa did what she could, operating at the periphery where he wouldn’t notice, trying to keep good relations with the shepherds and fishermen that supported House Aryn.
She wished she could just carry on as an invisible caretaker here, keeping her brother from ruining the House, but assuming he married and eventually became Lord Aryn, Arissa didn’t want to end up as a domestic dependent. Which left her with no real plans and no real prospects.
All of this meant that every time she introduced herself as Arissa of Aryn, she felt a tiny sting from the unvoiced caveat: for now.
Rane of Wyth
Rane, second son of House Wyth, often joked that he may or may not have been named for precipitation. His mother said no, but she also told him it was raining the day he was born, so he’d always liked the association. As a child he had kept a tally of rainy days, because for some reason he’d had the idea that if it rained enough House Wyth would float like a ship and he and his brother Owen would sail off on a grand adventure.
He was twenty-eight now, and still wanted the adventure, though it wouldn’t be as much fun if Owen didn’t come along. Since taking over the duties as Head of House, Owen had lost his sense of humor and their fraternal friendship had suffered for it. Owen was six years ahead, and took his responsibilities very, very seriously. That meant that it was up to Rane to keep laughter in the House, and the sad thing was that the more he compensated for Owen’s dour moods, the less Owen seemed to tolerate Rane’s attempts to make him smile.
That dynamic nearly broke his heart, so he was spending a lot of time elsewhere. When he could, he’d take a couple of days and go down to Ruatt, the city that Wyth sponsored, and find friends of one kind or another in the taverns where he wouldn’t be recognized. He didn’t go as often now, because Owen was often called away on mysterious “House business,” and one of them needed to stay close to home.
At least Rane could ride down to House Dannpelier for a visit and still be home by evening, which he considered a fair compromise. Even though Lord Dannpelier was part of the older generation, he was Rane’s closest friend, and they had plenty of shared interests. More importantly these days they also shared certain political views that could get them both in trouble. Taking on a full rebellion wasn’t really the adventure Rane had in mind, but that seemed to be the path that was opening up for him. Some derring-do and a dose of resolve just might give him a chance to help Owen do the right thing for House Wyth — and for Merra.
Unfortunately, Owen didn’t seem to know that he needed help. Rane couldn’t get through to him, and their arguments now felt less like sibling squabbles than they used to. He struggled to keep his temper locked down; he flared easily but forgave quickly. Owen was more like their mother, so even-tempered that it sometimes seemed he had no feelings at all. Owen just stored everything up until it erupted, and then it took a long time for him to settle again. It was one more way they seemed to balance each other.
They’d known all along that all of the serious obligations of House Wyth would fall to Owen. Rane didn’t mind that. He wouldn’t want it, and he could do his part by trying to keep Owen centered. Being the second son of House Wyth meant he could do things Owen couldn’t.
Coming in early 2022
A Signal for Redemption:
- Book description
- Read the prologue
- Meet the characters
- About writing this book
You can read the prologue right here on the site, and subscribe to download Chapter 1.
Join my mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from this website.