In my previous installment in this series, I talked about how the major influences on my forthcoming novel Unmortal came together to create the story. Now, to talk about the characters that populate that story, beginning with the main cast.
Last installment I talked about how I wanted the characters at the center of the story to be street-level folks, people who live day to day with the reality of the world of sua-human interaction. The archetype I started with was from one of the core inspirations, Yojimbo — a sword-for-hire. This became Jahya, a woman in her late twenties, who went from the orphanage that raised her into the army, and from there to a life as a freelancer. She has the same ground-level, hard-bitten view of life as her inspiration, but also a restless need to find some place to truly belong that she is unable to speak of aloud.
Along the way she encountered a sword sua, Teşkul, originally conceived as a ceremonial sword and left to gather dust in someone's closet after such things fell out of use. Each gave the other a greater purpose, and so the story begins with them together after some years, struggling to make a living as the world makes life increasingly difficult for people like them. J and T may not have much, but they have each other, and that takes primacy over anything else in life.
The next set of characters I wanted to come from the existing power structures around sua — the agency that brought them into this world, trafficked in them, and faced rising pressure over the years to wind down their operations, if not terminate them entirely. But as with Jahya and Teşkul, I wanted people who were more working-class, as it were, not near the levers of power.
Othei, a young worker in the section that brings sua into the world, originally joined because she thought she could make a difference from the inside; when that dream dies badly, she discovers a sua hidden away in her place of work — the "codex" Runak. She then decides to light out on her own with Runak under one arm ... and with Jahya and Teşkul to protect her.
The final pair of major characters, I wanted to be sua who were major figures in the movement for sua liberation, and I wanted them to be opposing forces. That is, they agreed on the larger goal (in theory, anyway), but disagreed on how to get there. That disagreement forced them to go separate ways, to build rival followings, and to work at cross-purposes, in secret both from each other and the world at large.
Fioka was originally created as a carriage for the dauphin of the royal family, but after the royal family fell as one of the many casualties in a massive sua-empowered war, Fioka went underground and took Azual, a ceremonial-guard pistol, with them. Their blended strengths did great things for the "Banner of the Gold", the sua resistance that eventually became the face of sua liberation generally. But over time Azual grew uneasy with the direction Fioka took the Gold — especially as sua achieved some measure of liberation (if not the total measure yearned for) — and decided to break away and find their own path ... but at quite a cost.
Next time I'll talk about the second-tier characters in the story, although they are by no means less important.