Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Character I'd Love to Write? Phèdre!

Our topic this week among the Seven of us SFF types is The Established Character We'd Love to Write.

Because, of course, all writers start out as readers (or they should), and we're all fangirls and fanboys at heart. In fact, I'd wager that many writers conceive the first spurring desire to *really* write something (as opposed to playing around with stories about our pets) from reading a story, world or character that lit us up. I think this is why so many writers get started by writing fan fiction. Yes, it's easier to play in a world with characters someone else has created - but also that love is what sparks enough fuel to do the work.

(Writing is hard work, whether fan fiction or creating your own worlds. Never believe anyone who says otherwise.)

There are a LOT of established characters I'd love to write. Or wish I'd written, which comes out to about the same thing. In fact, I suspect a lot of my writing is me working out how I would have written certain characters or worlds.

But today I'm picking Phédre nó Delaunay of Jacqueline Carey's absolutely brilliant Kushiel series.

Full confession: not coincidentally I read these books only a year or two before I got serious about writing my own fantasy. Thus I do think of this character as a spark that finally gave me enough propulsion to do the hard work.

Why Phédre?

First of all, at that time (book one came out in 2002), there were few epic fantasy novels or series with a fully gratifying political and mythological sweep that featured a heroine as protagonist. The initial trilogy centers on Phédre - told in first person point of view - and the story is about her journey. She's not a partner or an accessory. In fact, the male characters, while heroic in their own ways, are accessories to her story.

That electrified me.

(I can't tell you how many epic fantasies I set aside over the years because I wearied of reading about men romping about doing interesting things while the female characters barely registered as more than cardboard props.)

Also, Phédre is a sexual being. She's a courtesan. She's also a spy, a brilliant linguist and an skillful navigator of tricky political waters. She is all of these things at the same time. Her sexuality is integral to who she is - and is a strength that allows her to triumph. Love love love.

Finally, Phédre possesses a kind of unshakable integrity that I admire in my heroes. She always fights to do what's best, even in the face of others' disdain or dismay. Her internal compass leads her unfailingly. Not that she doesn't doubt, not that she doesn't suffer tremendous setbacks - but she always sticks with what she believes to be right, even if the people she loves most disagree.

Amazing series. Amazing character. Amazing world.

Oh! Also, I'll be at WorldCon this week. Check here for my schedule!

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