Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Character Design: Amelia

MAKING THE HORIZON is the beginning of a compendium series. Set in a barren, sandbox world, 13 humans are left by a crazed mage to craft reality to their whims. The book, and its successors, are currently in development, the unguaranteed process shared with you as I work.

I’ve talked about Amelia before, her evolution somewhat personally controversial, but the results striking me in a special way.

Amelia Yuèzhèng is a second-generation American, a concert violinist and mother stolen from our world to be put into the Sandbox with the other artists as part of a mage’s sick experiment on human creativity.

Amelia is different from the other Sandbysk gods in that she is the only one who truly lost something in her kidnapping. While so far she is the sole victim with a family in the real world, she is also the primary antagonist of the piece.

I’m not going too much into her race as I have done so in prior blog posts. I’m a believer that there needs to be more diversity in literature, that it would be more interesting, bare minimum, and so when I first decided upon the thirteen original gods taken from our world, it was obvious that I would have a good racial sampling. I made it completely random, using the percentages from the American Census Bureau, but the character really became fully-fledged after I had already assigned, The God of Justice his race.

Yes. Amelia was originally meant to be a man.

Like Havana, Amelia was a part of the first two gods’ domains I knew I had to have. While playing Dungeons and Dragons, there were two religious figures ‘good’ aligned paladins could worship. One was the Lady of Light, a kind and merciful goddess, and the other was a knightly-based male who was more wrathful than he was good. I found that the paladins of our group tended to be power hungry and controlling, less heroic and more self-motivated.

Some of the things they did were more evil than the players who were trying to be evil. Under the idea of ‘justice’ of course.

I wanted a god like that, someone whose followers did some amoral things in the name of goodness, who wasn’t completely a villain, but wasn’t completely heroic either.

Amelia came into frame the moment I rolled her race, looked down and thought, “Great. I’ve made a non-white villain.”

Despite my attempts for a realistic sense of diversity, the characters came out more or less white-washed. My two initial leads rolled Caucasian, and it worried me that my singular Asian character was the main villain. Though as I develop the story more, the more interesting characters and other love stories aren’t, so my fears of following racist trends in literature have lessened. Havana, The Mother of life, a young Hispanic woman, is  more or less a keystone in most aspects of the story, everything revolving around her in some form, and Angel, the God of Risk, a young Hispanic man, has stolen the show.

In rolling, I asked myself what specific stereotypes I would be buying into for my God of Wrath being Asian. Are Asian people often labeled wrathful?

Well, tiger moms, I thought.

The idea struck me hard the moment I had it. It terrified me. In order for her to be a tiger mom, it would mean she would have to have a child. “No, no, that won’t work. She’ll never get to see him again!”

But, actually, that would explain a lot.

Over the last few years I’ve been working on a book I entitled, “The Worst Book I’ve Ever Written,” or, “Another World,” as it says on my document. The main character is an awful sonofabitch who leaves her husband and baby to pursue a career in writing.

Amelia became the flipside of that. Instead of abandoning her baby, she would do anything to get back to him. This would explain her anger, the way she sees the creations (the people of Sandbysk) as merely tools for her own devices.

It all made sense. And more to the point, it made her dear to me.

Even though Ronny of Another World was initially based off of me—what if I had a family, how would it affect my writing career and my dreams for the future—I don’t relate to her, and am disgusted with her actions. Amelia was more like me than Ronny ever will be. As much as I’d like to be whisked away to another land, not if it meant leaving my child behind.

The other gods (so far) come to term with their kidnapping, they explore the world and the things they can create, and turn their attention elsewhere. But Amelia struggles to forget the world she’s left behind.

Amelia has of yet to appear in the actual manuscript, but she is a force to be reckoned with. She appeared quickly and readily, taking the book by storm. Admittedly, the God of Justice wasn’t going to be that crucial to the plot, sort of a remote, judgmental eye. But the God of Justice wasn’t Amelia, and Amelia can’t be ignored.

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