Character Thoughts – Justin Harper

Justin Harper VintageJustin Harper is best friends with Timothy Hawkins and appears in Wolf in the Shadow.

Justin and Timothy attended school together and were known for getting into mischief. They spent more time harassing the Sisters than they did studying. After school, they would play games in the streets of Freywater, and they spent many an evening at each other’s home.

As late teens, Justin and Timothy were both granted weapons of the gods. While Timothy received the Spear of Lugh, Justin received the Seal of Solomon. Unfortunately, the Seal required practice to master, something Justin had no desire to do. Still, carrying the weapon allowed him to become a Shadow Walker, and he threw himself into it with all his heart. He came to love the chase and the slaughter, and he became one of the best the Shadow Walkers had at disposing of dangerous creatures. He was often paired with Timothy, who was the one person who could curb Justin’s more reckless behavior.

Justin is in his early twenties in Wolf in the Shadow. At this time, Justin’s favorite pastime is downing Nutty Fluffies and bedding as many women as possible. To him, these women are nothing more than playthings, and the idea that they are people with emotions and dreams escapes him. In his own mind, what he’s doing can’t possibly hurt anyone, and he’s found himself on the business end of numerous pistols and swords. Only Timothy’s connection with the Enforcers keeps Justin out of trouble.

In his more serious moments, though these are rare, Justin considers his life in the far future. While he can’t picture himself with a wife and children, he does see himself in a position of authority, something that gets a lot of attention and admiration. By his own admission, he has no idea what this position might be. He’s actually extremely insecure and uses his flamboyant persona to validate his existence to himself. He constantly struggles with feelings of inadequacy, and he would most likely be able to conquer these if he would give them voice instead of hiding them.

Justin loves to eat out at restaurants, and his favorite place in Freywater is a diner near the University. They serve foods fried in oil, and Justin is particularly fond of fried root vegetables. He covers them in a variety of sauces and uses them as a ‘pick me up’ after too many Nutty Fluffies or a night spent with too much company. He also enjoys going to the theater, though he avoids the burlesque shows because he feels they are indecent.

When he’s alone, he enjoys reading, and the ha’coin books that have become the rage in the Xaggarene Empire are his favorites. Many of these deal with murder and depravity, and Justin finds satisfaction in reading about these topics. He doesn’t care much for actual book-learning, though, so many of the topics Timothy mentions are lost on him.

Justin is one of those characters who is both loveable and despicable. His willingness to protect the weak is a laudable trait, but his selfishness is loathsome. There are redeeming qualities to him, but they’re hard to see for those who aren’t looking. He can be fun to be around, but no one should ever count on him. He’s loyal to those who serve his purposes, but he will turn away if he thinks he has the slightest reason. His love of the chase is carefully balanced by the need of the Shadow Walkers, but I wonder just what it would take to shift him from state-sanctioned Shadow Walker to cold-blooded killer. I don’t think it would take too much, and it’s an idea I may explore at some point. I haven’t decided. I have to admit, though, that, while Justin is one of my favorites to write, I don’t particularly like him. He’s just too loud and obnoxious to be someone I would enjoy being around.

What are your thoughts on Justin Harper? Is he someone you would call a friend? Do you agree with his actions in Wolf in the Shadow?

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Character Thoughts – Ethan Grimley III

SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

final-cover-with-bookThose who’ve read The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III know that Ethan can be a bit strong-willed. He also has a certain disregard for the rules when it suits him, especially when he thinks he’s doing the right thing. The first time we see this is in A Walker is Born when Ethan skips school and disobeys his mother to check on Damion. Needless to say, his mother has four kinds of hissy fits, but Ethan just jumps right back at her. After all, he doesn’t understand why she worries so much about him. In Cronus Attacks Ethan takes off out the door when the Shadow Walker guild hall is attacked even though the students are ordered to remain indoors. He does it again when Faylen is taken, and it is because of Ethan and his friends that Cronus is defeated.

Much of Ethan’s behavior can be chalked up to childhood recklessness. From the perspective of an adult who’s raised three boys, I can understand how the adults around Ethan would want to keep him and the others safe. They’re children after all. On the other hand, I wonder if we keep our children too safe, keep them too shielded from the world around them. We have this idea that everyone gets a trophy and that no one should fail, but is this fair to the kids? Do they benefit from being raised in this environment?

From a parental perspective, I can understand not wanting your child to carry the weapon of a god, and I can understand wanting to keep him safe. Mine are grown, but come for them. I dare you. However, I can also see the wisdom of letting the children figure things out for themselves. I can understand how Ethan would feel that he was capable of handling the situation himself because I felt like I knew what I was doing at that age. (Doesn’t mean I did know, but I felt like I did.) I was quite capable of analyzing a situation and deciding on a course of action. I didn’t need someone standing over me telling me what to do every minute of every day. In fact, what I needed more than anything was for folks to back off and let me figure it out.

I think this is one of the things I try to portray with Ethan and his friends. The decisions Ethan has to make are his and his alone. No one can tell him whether to accept Gaia’s gift or not, and determining how to fight an enemy that is coming for him is knowledge he needs to have. You don’t get it in the classroom, regardless of what the subject is. I’m surely not encouraging students to skip school and the like, but I think there are times when we, as adults, need to back off and let them figure it out. Our children need to be able to enter the adult world knowing they can handle it. Will that happen if we hold their hands until they’re thirty? Do we want them to go out into the world frozen as Electa is so much of the time?

How much freedom of decision do you think children should have?

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Character Thoughts – Gwennyth Grimsbane

aradias-secret-cover-with-book-woman.png.pngGwennyth Grimsbane is the daughter of Ravyn Grimsbane, leader of Crowrest in E’ma Thalas. She’s also the protagonist of Aradia’s Secret. I think I’ve already done a character sketch on Gwennyth, but I was thinking about her the other day, trying to figure out what happens next, and wanted to share some of those thoughts.

Gwennyth is one of those people who’s been trained most of her life. Her mother consistently took her into the forest and taught her how to defend herself. She had other teachers that instructed her in the use of magic, history, and the like. Beyond that, Gwennyth has spent over a hundred years studying on her own and helping Ravyn run Crowrest. In short, she’s extremely capable. She knows what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how it needs to be done (can’t say what it is because of spoilers for those who haven’t read the book).

But Gwennyth doesn’t see this in herself. Instead, she sees herself as inexperienced and incapable. This is what makes Ravyn’s death and the subsequent quest so difficult for her. It isn’t that she doesn’t have the knowledge or skills to do what has to be done; it’s that she doesn’t think she has them. This lack of confidence in herself leads Gwennyth to feel overwhelmed by all she has to do. She feels like she’s drowning, and she dithers here and there trying to find an anchor in her sea of uncertainty. Her mind is so eclipsed by her fear that she can’t think straight or find a solution that isn’t nearly as difficult to comprehend as she makes it out to be. If she’d just settle down within herself, she’d know what to do (and I wouldn’t have a story to write). Instead, she wanders here and there as she tries to figure out Ravyn’s letter.

I’ll admit that Gwennyth isn’t one of my favorite characters. Her inability to get ahold of herself gets on my nerves. Her paralysis drives me nuts! But there’s a reason for this.

While I can’t stand Gwennyth’s wallowing, I can understand it. I know what it’s like to be terrified, to feel like I can’t do something, even though I’ve had more than enough training and experience with it. I understand the lack of self-confidence and the desire to hide in the library and let the world pass by. Believe me, most days I’d just as soon do the same. There are times when I want to hide from life and from the responsibilities that seem overwhelming, and, like Gwennyth, there isn’t anyone else to take over. I think we’ve all experienced this at one time or another, that longing to lock the door and let the world do what it will.

However, Gwennyth doesn’t have this option, and neither do we, most of the time. And while her whining annoys me to absolutely no end, I can respect that, while she’s whining, she’s also acting. I can respect her forcing herself to do what scares her, and I’m curious to see where she goes next (when she decides to tell me).

Who are some other characters that lack self-confidence? What about yourself? Can you identify with this?

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com