StG Characters: Kat

October 12, 2016

 

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Kat, by Carol Phillips

Every fictional character goes through a genesis of sorts during the creation process, be it big or small–it’s just natural for an author to either polish up or improvise bits to a character during the creation process, or to change their mind completely and start over.

 

It was doubly so for Kat in the upcoming LoE book 12: The Shadow tech Goddess: Kat. I changed her so much she really isn’t the same character as when I started.

I do that a lot, though. As I prepare no notes or pre-plan no outline for a story project, I tend to frequently change course, get inspired, add tid-bits, or, change direction entirely. I’ve cut lots of pretty cool stuff because I either thought I was treading over previously covered ground or could find no good use for the material. The Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy  is nothing like what I started out with–nothing.

And so, we come to LoE Book 12: Kat. First introduced in Book 8: The Shadow tech Goddess, as one of the 7 potential love interests for Paymaster Stenstrom across the universes, my original intention with Kat was to simply pull her off the page as is and resume her tale in Book 12 with little or no intro or preamble. In StG, Kat was a Black Hat sent with several others to infiltrate the Ruins of Clovis in the Kanan north and uncover evidence of the identity of the Shadow tech Goddess. It was, essentially, a suicide mission with the possibility of success remote at best.

 

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Kat, as she appeared in Book 8, The Shadow tech Goddess, by Eve Ventrue.

Kat was a Knife-class Black Hat, very mobile, very heady with micro-line Shadow tech. When Paymaster Stenstrom came upon her in the cold ruins, she was alone, her two nameless companions dead, killed by whatever lurks in the depths beneath Clovis. She was cold and uncaring, limber to the point of being rubbery and quite ruthless.

 

This somewhat limited character is what I hoped to make the heroine in Book 12. I made a good go of it, but, as I neared the completion of the first draft, I realized something.

Kat was boring.

It’s important for an author to be able to step back to see the naked truth as it unfolds before them. Though I loved the limber, blonde-headed Kat (I had based her off of Ginger Rogers), I had to face the fact she was not only a re-tread from previous characters in the series, she had no life. She was plain boring. Her transformation from Black Hat to loving Countess had already been done (as with Syg and Duchess Torijayne of Olyn), and her love for Paymaster Stenstrom bordered on the dreaded “Insta-Love”. I stopped writing. I knew action had to be taken.

 

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Proposed cover for Book 12, by Carol Phillips (Kat’s new wind-whipped Mohawk easily seen in the sketch)

I figured I’d go back, add a few scenes to the beginning of the book, flesh-out Kat a little bit and give her her own path. Shouldn’t take too long, I thought.

 

It would take half a year and about 40 thousand words before I was done, the “few scenes” I wanted to add took on a life of their own and Kat would never be the same.

I started from an elemental level, following Kat as she struggled to survive in the Black Hat’s horrid training facility, the Shade Church. I took away her mastery of Shadow tech, making her a novice in the extreme (though I would have to figure out a way to give her mastery back again by the end of the book). I gave her mentors, those watching her from afar, weeping as she suffered under the Black Hat’s heel.  I even included Kat’s sisters, those sent with her to Kana. I also added the gods, people in far away places, mystical items, the works.

I threw the lot at Kat, and her transformation was stunning. Gone was flat, boring, Kat, replaced by a remarkable new character, full of life, one that I was proud of. Fueled by these changes, I finished the book in no time.

Kat is in the initial stages of pre-production. It should be out by 2018.

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Carol Phillips.

 

 

This is the part I hate. This is the part where everything’s turned in, the cover is done, the artwork is (mostly) done, and the only thing left to do is wait for the thing to hit the shelves.

stgcover-front“The Shadow tech Goddess” took me four years to write, and, during that time it went through a number of different incarnations and intentions. I had at first wanted to publish her after Book 2: The Hazards of the Old Ones. She just didn’t feel right–I was floundering around with the concept and, frankly, got a little lost. I decided to focus my energies instead on the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy, which was bursting out of my head at the time (I always seem to have a Main WIP going, and one in the fire at the same time. The Shadow tech goddess was always “in the fire”, never quite hot enough to be worked and shaped into something useful). Once the Temple was done, then I’d finish up the Goddess. I promised myself that.

I just didn’t have a good grasp of the story even though years had passed. What was the story I wanted to tell?? What interesting concepts would I introduce? I didn’t know.

I was still stuck.

Putting it aside, I decided to finish up the Sands of the Solar Empire, and then I’d get to the Goddess.

Time passed. Sands and Against the Druries came and went. I intended to concentrate on the House of Bloodstein–a tale dealing with my old favs, Lord Kabyl and Sam, the new ne-countess of the House of Blanchefort. Once again the Goddess eluded me and settled into the less swift current of my brain. My publisher, James Barnes, asked me what titles I’d have ready for 2014, if any. I had it in my head to say “House of Bloodstein”, but my mouth rebelled and said “Shadow tech Goddess” instead. James took it and ran.

And so, I was committed with a WIP that had whipped me into submission for years.

The "Back Cover" of The Shadow tech Goddess, with blurb. Enlarge to read text

The “Back Cover” of The Shadow tech Goddess, with blurb

THE LOVES OF PAYMASTER STENSTROM:

I think my issue all along was boredom. I was bored with Paymaster Stenstrom and his presumptive fiancée, Lady Gwendolyn of Prentiss. I love creating relationships, and, Gwen seemed to be the winner in this case, what else was there to write about?? I got it into my head that I wanted to write about different loves–lots of them, each one full of hidden possibilities. I greatly value loyalty in a hero–a hero to me must be, above all else, loyal and trustworthy. So–how could I have Stenstrom indulge in many torrid relationships and have him remain loyal at the same time??

Alternate realities was the answer, and, once I came to grips with that idea the rest was easy. I dreamed of arcane devices and Extra-Planar entities. New corners of the League opened up to me and places never seen danced in my head. Eventually, after a writing binge, I had seven stories ready to go, each dealing with a different love of Paymaster Stenstrom, or “The Turns of The Shadow tech Goddess“. Central to the Turns is the main story which begins and ends in one book. In the book are mentions and casual asides of characters and situations that are not covered to any great degree. Did I make a mistake? Did I pick up an interesting plot thread only to forget about it pages later? No way! They are covered in the six novella-sized stories which are related to the main story. The novellas detail important events which help to bring the main book to be, a la, the hand behind the stage pulling a rope that draws the curtain. Lord A-Ram and Lady Alesta of the Pilgrims of Merian serve as guides shuttling between the books. They often disappear in StG–they are off assisting the “other” Paymaster Stenstroms.

Stenibelle_IISTENIBELLE:
In an alternate universe, Paymaster Stenstrom is not a man and his House is on the verge of extinction. The disgraced 30th daughter of the House of Belmont will either be the final stake driven into its dying heart, or the ray of light that comes to save it.

MELAZARR
Can a crass, foul-mouthed Xaphan woman from Caroline actually be the vessel carrying information that can save all things? Paymaster Stenstrom struggles to keep her alive and, discovers in the process, the amazing woman hidden under her bravado.

ATD 5TAARA
Tiny Taara de la Anderson is Stenstrom’s right hand, always loyal and brave. Does she dream of different things, and how far will she go to get what she wants?

KAT
He felt her claws raking his chest in the cold of the Clovis ruins, and now here she is again at his throat. Who is Kat, and can she believed? What demands does she make of him? The Shadow tech Goddess comes to call on an old debt.

THE ALL-IN-ONE
He awakens in a pit and is the slave of the Lacerta. He hears many voices in his head and remembers many things he himself has never done. He is all aspects of himself, yet he is none of them. He can try to escape the Lacerta’s pit, but, where will he go? Is he better off dangling in the dark dreaming of things other people have done?

THE TEMPUS FINDAL
Of all creatures, the Tempus Findal is the most horrid. She believes she has her own place at last where her insidious power will not destroy. The Gods of Cammara will give her no rest and might undermine all she has attempted to build.

The Shadow tech Goddess will be out March 2014 from Loconeal Publishing. The novellas will be published approximately every three months afterward.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia