On writing capable and creative characters! Blaine D. Arden blogs – plus WIN Oren’s Right!
I’m thrilled to welcome back a talented purveyor of forest fantasy, Blaine D. Arden, as my first guest blogger of the autumn! All commenters will be entered in a draw to win a copy of Oren’s Right, her new release. Hurrah! EDIT: COMP NOW CLOSED. WINNER ANNOUNCED HERE.
Isolation by Blaine D. Arden.
A year ago, Charming Euphemism from the Goodreads Gay Science Fiction group, asked me the following question: I have noticed a theme in you works of a hero who is lonely and isolated, often by disabilities (or abilities he has to hide). Is this a theme that has some meaning for you?
Now, I felt a bit caught out because I’d never realised my work had a common theme–while my bio says ‘sheltered youth’, feel free to translate that into being very naive. Of course, having been made aware of it, I now know I do tend to go for men who have to fight for their place in the world.
In real life, people with a disability tend to be overlooked and underestimated. Whether deaf, blind, in a wheelchair, they’re considered weak and needy, are seen as dependant and unable to make it without help. But they’re not. They are capable and creative in handling their disability and facing the life they’ve been given.
In my stories, I enjoy writing disabled characters who force their peers to realise that their weakness is not all there is to them, and get to show their strengths. I did that with magicless Llyskel in The Fifth Son, and had Oleg’s tutor help Oleg realise his potential in The Storyteller.
In Oren’s Right, Oren is born without the ability to speak. He is mute. And, as with the characters mentioned above, he is often underestimated. Part of the tribe can’t see past his disability. They want to take care of him, want to help him, even though he doesn’t need it. At least, not the sort of ‘we know better’ sort of help they’re offering.
Oren doesn’t need to be coddled. With the help of his parents and sister, he taught himself to communicate through signing. But often finds a deaf ear with those who don’t have the patience to learn these signs, but shut him down and ignore what he’s telling them. They don’t consider boosting his confidence and letting him make mistakes instead of taking over and doing what he finds difficult for him.
Not so with Haram. In Haram, Oren found understanding, support, and the kind of tough love he needed. And Oren knows he will find the same in Veld.
Disability doesn’t have to be the cause of a character’s isolation. Noah in Aliens, Smith and Jones was separated from his people with no way of getting home. Taruif from The Forester was shunned, not allowed to speak to anyone in the tribe but the Guide. And some characters, like Veld, choose their isolation.
Before he arrived in Oren’s village, he’d led quite a full life already. Stemming from a large family, he helped raise his sisters, and later helped them raise their brood as well. He was the universal baby sitter, the unattached brother they could always rely on. But once his nieces and nephews started growing up, Veld decided it was time for him to spread his wings and discover the world.
Being away from his family was hard, but Veld enjoyed being on his own. He visited many different tribes, and delighted in learning their ways, their habits, their traditions. Though, he never really fit in until he arrived at Oren’s village.
As soon as I arrived here, however, I knew my traveling days were over, and I hadn’t even seen the inhabitants yet. It was… the atmosphere, the way their dwellings were grouped together, even the tents, and the way the sun shone across a central field.
Our village center, I mused. I’d felt like I had come home. Or maybe it was simply that I had gotten tired of traveling.
Not that meeting said inhabitants was all that easy.
When I first arrived, a little over two turns ago, it was clear this tribe had never seen a dark elf before, and my dark skin stood out amongst their paler ones like night to day. They had watched me, wary and distrustful.
Yet, Mir [the tribe's young Truth Seeker] had only needed one conversation to deem me worthy of her friendship. It took longer for the rest of the tribe to warm to me, but once even the smallest of children drifted towards me, questioning me, jesting with me as I tended to their trees, the adults lost their wariness and welcomed me into their homes. Their desperate need for a Forester trumped their fear of the unknown.
The tribe might not have been as willing to accept a dark stranger into their fold if they hadn’t needed a Forester that desperately. But Veld made the most of it, and, over time, found himself settled and becoming part of this new tribe, found himself a home. And Oren.
Characters like Oren and Veld are interesting and challenging to write. Characters who make the best of the hand they’ve been dealt despite others’ best intentions, and characters who throw their lives around in search for something new. I enjoy seeing them grow on the page and get what they want out of life. And for me, their own personal matchmaker, seeing them find love is the cherry on top.
Veld is an Elf who has known for years that his mute friend Oren is spoken for; the design of scars spanning Oren’s torso reminds him with every look. When Oren’s vowed, Haram, is killed, Veld must not only help to prove his own innocence, but also tread carefully as he discovers Oren’s Right and Haram’s last request.
Blaine D. Arden is a purple haired, forty-something writer of gay and trans* romance with a love of men, music, mystery, magic, fairies, platform shoes, and the colours black, purple and red, who sings her way through life.
Oren’s Right Giveaway.
A comment on any of these three posts in Blaine’s Oren’s Right mini tour counts as an entry to her giveaway. If you comment on all three posts, it means you have three chances to win. The giveaway closes on Sunday the 8th at 23:59 CET, and Blaine’ll randomly pick and announce the winner on Monday the 9th.
Oren’s Right mini tour schedule:
- September 3rd: Traditions of the Forest
- September 4th: Good Girls, Bad Girls, and Expectations at Babes in Boyland
- September 5th: Isolation at Kay Berrisford’s place
SORRY TO ANYBODY WHO’S TRIED TO POST COMMENTS AND RECEIVED AN ERROR MESSAGE. THIS SEEMS TO BE HAPPENING TO SOME COMMENTERS (THOUGH NOT ALL, SO PLEASE STILL TRY). I HAVE CONTACTED WORDPRESS AND HOPE THIS WILL BE FIXED SOON!