Q&A: Books/Series [Research]
And we’re back again after a slight delay, though a little earlier in the catch-up than previously announced. Sometimes (as you’ve seen in our previous Q&As) the line between the perspective of readers and writers isn’t distinct. The interests of one audience leads to the other, and visa versa. So it is, this time out, with a peek into the past. Appropriate considering that this coming January 2012, with the release of S3B1: Between Their Worlds, we’ll be ten years into the saga from the readers’ side, and over twelve years for us on the writers’ side…
- How did your notions for Magiere, Leesil, and Chap as characters come about? *
One night, we were researching another project when we came across an interesting entry in a book called The Vampire Encyclopedia by Mathew Bunson. It related the origins of the “dhampir” as a term given by Slavonic gypsies to the mortal child of a vampire.
In medieval Serbia and Yugoslavia, charlatans took advantage of this myth by pretending to be dhampirs. They would convince a troubled village that it was beset by a vampire, and that only a dhampir could see the undead monster. These charlatans would then stage elaborate battles, though not with someone actually playing the part of the vampire. That’s purely a Magiere and Leesil trick. Upon victory, or so the baffled villagers would think in not being able to see the undead, the dhampirs would claim they had destroyed the monster — and charge the village quite a fee.
It’s important to note that original vampires (vämpyr, upir, uper) were spirit creatures who hijacked the bodies of the recently deceased in order to infiltrate a community. And hence easier to use in duping said villagers. They fed off of life energy, not blood, and the later vulgar walking corpse version we know today is based in a mix of the myths of high revenants across western Europe with tales of mortal “demons” throughout India and the near east. And even such as these were dissimilar to the vampires of modern pop culture.
This is what sparked the original idea, and the story of Magiere and Leesil began to grow. From there, we considered the fantastical possibilities as a lead off to a larger project. We asked ourselves “what if one of these charlatans had to face the fact that vampires were indeed real — and that she was a true dhampir?
Our aim was always to write high fantasy with our own slant, not vampire fiction. We had both written dark stuff separately in our earlier days, and that included tales of the undead. So the combination of “dark” and “high” in our fantasy was natural to us; we didn’t really give any thought to what it meant in the way of markets and fashions in fiction.
We also wanted to write a female protagonist living the more active side of a role most often reserved for male characters. And so Magiere came into being. Leesil followed quickly as we took instinctually to the notion of characters caught between worlds. First shown only to the reader as a sidekick, we had far more in mind for him. It wasn’t long before everyone (including the readers) saw how Leesil would shape — and has always shaped — the story and Magiere’s world in new ways.
Last, but by no means least, came Chap. He was probably the biggest surprise to us. Okay, so a wolf (on the outside) was a little cliché, but who wouldn’t love a big ol’ beasty with too much attitude and arrogance… and too little table manners? Much of his character was constructed between S1B1: Dhampir and S1B2: Thief of Lives, aside from core influences we wanted (and needed) him to have. We intended that Magiere and Leesil have something of a “guide,” as much of a half’n’half as they were.
Chap was quite necessary for the long run and the saga level, beyond the book and series level stories. He became so much more, and he’s one of our all-time favorite characters now (and too often overlooked by retailers and reviewers). You almost have to know him from his role throughout a series or the saga so far to truly get glimpse of what he’s all about.
* Based on material from an interview in SCIFIChick.com, 11/2009