Thursday 10 May 2012

Guest Post: Elisabeth Wheatley

Today we welcome Elisabeth Wheatley, author of 'The Secrets of the Vanmars' (Argetallam Saga 2)

After her adventures with the Key of Amatahns, sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam returns home to find Brevia on the brink of war with a neighboring country, Stlaven. Her foster-father and even Saoven—a brave young elf warrior—think it will be safe at the castle where Janir grew up. However, while trying to unravel a looming mystery, Karile—self-taught wizard and Janir’s self-appointed best friend—becomes certain that there is danger in the mountains surrounding Janir’s childhood home and that it has something to do with Stlaven’s most powerful family, the Vanmars…

Author Bio: (taken from Goodreads)

Elisabeth Wheatley started writing very short (and rather silly) stories when she was around six. She became a voracious reader and after being practically forced by her cousins to watch Disney's version of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," she developed a chronic passion for fantasy.

Elisabeth eventually went to work on what would become "The Key of Amatahns" when she was eleven. "The Key of Amatahns" is the first in the seven-book series, "Argetallam Saga."

When she isn't spellbound by reading fantasy books and writing her own, Elisabeth trains and shows her Jack Russell Terrier, Schnay, makes goat cheese, and studies mythology. 

Guest Post
How do you develop/create your characters?

It depends. I have many methods. Some of my characters have been with me since before I figured out the storyline for the Argetallam Saga.

Janir Caersynn Argetallam was naturally the first to turn up in my imagination. She was re-invented possibly hundreds of times. When I decided to give my imaginary world a story, I created an “avatar.” I knew I wanted a leading character my age, but as for every other detail, I couldn’t make up my mind. Would she be sassy or sweet? Would she be a great warrior or would her skill lie entirely in magic? Would she fight in the service of a king and country or would she just be trying to survive? In the end, I settled on a happy medium between these extremes.

There had to be a romantic interest for Janir, and so I came up with Saoven the elf. Saoven is the second longest-existing character in the series. In my earlier drafts, he was very jealous and brutal and I just decided I didn’t like that. Now he’s not vicious and he’s more likeable and I think, appealing.

Some of my characters just seem to materialize out of thin air. Genvissa, for example, was one of these. In my original draft for The Secrets of the Vanmars, the prologue was told from the Lord Argetallam’s viewpoint and I decided—literally as I was typing—to put in a slave girl who was taking care of Lucan. I then named her, decided I wanted to add to her, and she went from being an immaterial cameo to having her own story and sub-plot in the series. (Of which we will see more in book No.3, The Chalice of Malvron.)

One character in particular I created because I just wanted to have a character like her. I thought, “Oh, gee, wouldn’t it be fun to have a psychotic, slutty, freakishly powerful enchantress as an adversary for Janir?” So I created Zhamarza, who is introduced in The Secrets of the Vanmars. She’s not somebody I’d want to meet in real life, but she’s so fun to write!

The character Cyrilius was created because I wanted to have someone who was an Argetallam warrior, who wouldn’t be Janir’s relative, and who would have a “frenemy” relationship with Janir. As Cyrilius developed, he became a crucial individual in the rest of the series. There are others I originally intended to be important, but as I started writing, it became clear that the need for them was superficial.

I have to understand how a character views life and the situations I put them in. I have learned the hard way to be true to the characters.  If I don’t, things go horribly wrong in my story. No matter why I have a character, I hope my readers find them all real and engaging. That they enter the world of Argetallams and find themselves new friends.

Thanks for being here Elisabeth! :D

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