Thursday, October 8, 2009

Character Roulette

By Kelli And the question of the week is ...
Would you spin off any of your characters? Who and why?

This isn't going to be an easy one. Y'see, my debut book, NOX DORMIENDA, was the first of the Arcturus Series, and we are currently in a state of suspended animation waiting to hear back from a large publisher on whether or not they will publish MALEDICTUS (Cursed), the second one in the series ... so I'm
almost afraid to talk about it, lest the novel actually live up to it's name (I'd better ex-jinx myself right now. Hang on while I throw salt over my left shoulder and turn around three times. OK. I'm done. Yeah, I know, so I'm going through a superstitious phase, or maybe it's just the Roman research catching up with me).
Anyway, we are determined that the series continue and we'd like it to continue with a major publisher.

CITY OF DRAGONS has a second book already attached, and I hope to see many more to come ... ten two book novel arcs? Bring 'em on! :) But--since it's not out until February--I can't reveal the twists and turns that will await readers in COUNTRY OF SPIDERS, the working title of
the sequel. I'll just say this ... that Miranda is such a rich, full character--and so complex, so driven and so dark--that I couldn't see anyone spinning off from the series, because they'd be standing in her shadow. Plus, the novel is written in such an at times uncomfortably close POV that it wouldn't be a spin-off of that world. Because it is her world, fully. And she's by herself, in many, many ways ...

So back to Arcturus. Now that I've unjinxed myself, I should be able to talk about the series. The single most popular supporting character is Bilicho, Arcturus' cranky, crusty, talkative, bossy freedman. He also boasts a hard head, which comes in handy during the events of NOX. Bilicho--surprising to me--earned a fan following. Even in my own family! Which means I am regularly harassed about when I will write a spin-off featuring Bilicho as the star, not my Roman-British doctor, Arcturus.
I've unsuccessfully argued that Bilicho is appealing precisely because he's not the protagonist -- his qualities make for a stellar supporting role. So one day--that far-off occasion when I find time -- at some point when (fingers crossed) I write two series a year and the occasional stand-alone -- I plan to devote at least a short story to Bilicho. Maybe even a series of short stories, maybe even based on the labors of Hercules (if Agatha Christie could do it for Poirot, why not Bilicho?)

A writer can only dream ...

As for Miranda ... well, I can glimpse her future and her past. And I'd love to keep writing her through the war years, into the Cold War. If all goes according to plan (knock wood), the next two novels will be prequels, set in '39. Characters from CITY OF DRAGONS--hopefully some you won't necessarily suspect of returning--play a larger role in COUNTRY OF SPIDERS. So while it's not exactly a spin-off, I love a chance to develop characters' lives and in later books. One of the primary joys of writing a series. Speaking of which, back to work in 1940. And hope to see some Criminal Minds readers at Bouchercon next week!! :)


Jen Forbus said...

I was just remembering this morning that Rosemary Harris's character, Babe, has her own cult following, too. It's kind of neat to see who people latch on to in books because a lot of times it is completely unexpected. I'm listening to Louise Penny's A RULE AGAINST MURDER and I ADORE the character of Beauvoir in all her books. It would be interesting to see a book that was missing Gamache and Beauvoir was leading the pack. Likewise, could you imagine a book focused on Ruth? Oh my! hehehe

With readers like me, who are so character-centered, we're always hoping for their lives to be unveiled. But the only characters that can really sprout wings and fly are the ones who talk to you, their authors. How about that sentence for some mixed metaphor, huh? :)

Fun question!

Bobby Mangahas said...

Well, I look forward to reading CITY OF DRAGONS in February, and hopefully catch up when your tour comes to Boston.

Sorry I'll miss you and the others at Bouchercon this year.

Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you, Jen! You know, it's funny how characters "talk" ... there were characters who came up in CITY OF DRAGONS (and NOX) that I never planned ... and there are characters returning in the sequel to CITY OF DRAGONS whom I would never expect to return.

But sometimes you just "know"--it's like, "this is what happened, and I just report it", kind of. And the characters need to tell their stories.

One of the characters that returns in MALEDICTUS is Arcturus' horse, Nimbus--she's earned a fan-following, too! ;)



Kelli Stanley said...

We're sorry to miss you, too, RJ--and Mr. Poe! ;)

Hopefully I'll be able to get to Boston--it's a priority! I'm working on logistics for the tour right now, and hoping to find a pot of gold to finance it! ;)

Take care, and thanks again for commenting!


Rebecca Cantrell said...

I'll see you in Bouchercon. And I am part of the Bilicho fan club. I totally think he could carry a book.

Kelli Stanley said...

Aw, thanks, Beck. :) The tough part is whom to cast next to Daniel Craig as Arcturus!

Someone who isn't a hunk, but with loads of charisma ...

I can dream, right? ;)


Bobby Mangahas said...

If not Boston, perhaps NY for Thrillerfest? Or San Fran for next year's B'Con (if I can somehow afford it)?

Kelli Stanley said...

It'll happen, RJ--I'm focusing on the positive, and I really, really want to get to Boston--and also see you in San Francisco! :)