Like most authors, I consider the characters in my novels like they are part of my family. I live, laugh, and love them with every word I write. And yes, when I have to kill someone off to move the story along, I cry. It has happened to me on numerous occasions, when I write, edit, and even when I read that part of my story again. The emotion is still with me, even after all that time.
I don’t cry over the villains. I mean, they’re villains… They need to die. But sometimes, the villains win and that’s when it gets hard. These wonderful characters you cultivate and grow through you words also have to die by your hand. It’s not easy.
I know what you’re thinking… “They’re not real! You’re such a wuss! Why do you care about imaginary people?” Well, they are real to me. I breathed life into those characters with every word typed or written down. I’m not going to compare it to motherhood, or giving birth, because that’s an insult to women. It’s not like that. I just see it as a parent-child relationship between a writer and its characters.
But when you think about it, it’s all about the story. You don’t just kill someone or hurt someone for no reason. It has to go with the flow of the story and make sense. Think about the “Red Wedding” in the Game of Thrones series. That was a horrific death scene for a number of characters, but when you think about it, it moved the story along. It gave a purpose, resolve and motivation to characters like Arya and others. As bad as it was, as unexpected as it was, it was necessary.
Crying when I write makes me feel my humanity. It bridges that fine line of fantasy and reality, of what’s real and imaginary as it relates to my characters, but I’ve dealt with that all my life. I played Role Playing Games (RPGs) my whole life. Characters could easily live, or die, in these games. When you’ve played a character for so long, you form an emotional connection. It’s especially strong when said character dies because of a stupid mistake or bad decision.
Here’s an excerpt from THE DARK TIDES to make my point. I can’t read this page, even now, without a tear welling up in my eye. I guess I am an old softie at heart.
FYI to anyone reading this excerpt who hasn’t read my novel yet… Yes, I named the Shield Maidens after Disney Princesses. I have two daughters, it was inevitable.
Sarafina and her Shield Maidens fought their way down through the keep toward the dungeon. Lord Baldrid was happy to loan her an airship and company of Elves to rescue the Gil-Gamesh. Even Usage was with them, showing the quickest route to the dungeon, bashing a few goblin
heads along the way.
Merida led the way, clearing a path with her bow. Sarafina and Aurora followed close behind, slashing at the ones still standing with their swords. Usage directed them where to go while Ariel and Snow covered them from behind, keeping the Brood at bay with their pole arms. The Elves, led by Eonis, scattered the remaining Brood and goblins outside the keep from their airship Aerdrie Faenya. The airship rained down explosive volleys from their cannons, sending goblins flying off the keep’s defenses. Archers brought down the ones still standing in an
attempt to make the keep safe for landing.
Within minutes, Sarafina and her Shield Maidens made their way to the dungeon. They found the Gil-Gamesh hanging by the chains while Caleb Guoyle lay prone on the ground. Sarafina rushed to Bryan, checking if he’s still alive.
“Ariel, get him down!” Sarafina ordered as she and Merida held him up. Ariel pointed her trident at the locks around his wrists.
“Excido Portas!” she chanted as magical energy sparks from the tips of her weapon, opening the locks. Bryan’s body went limp as they eased him down to the ground.
“This one’s dead,” Snow exclaimed after checking on Caleb Guoyle, “though I doubt the Gil-Gamesh was able to do it.”
“It doesn’t matter who killed him. The Gil-Gamesh is dying,” Sarafina said as she checked his wounds. “We need to get him to the healers quickly.”
Bryan began to stir at the sound of Sarafina’s voice. He opened his eyes and saw her hovering over him as he smiled. “Hey you …” he moaned. “I knew you’d be the one to find me.”
“Of course I would,” Sarafina said, tears welling in his eyes. “You wouldn’t stop looking for me; I wasn’t going to stop until I found you.” Bryan smiled again as he closed his eyes and fell unconscious. “Father!” Sarafina screamed, trying to wake him up. “Father! Don’t leave me… Father!”
“Come on,” Aurora said motioning for Merida to help. “We have to get him back to the ship now.” Sarafina didn’t move, she just stared at the Gil-Gamesh.
“Sarafina! We’ve got to go now!” Merida shouted at her. Sarafina nodded her head, then stepped back as the two Shield Maidens lifted the Gil-Gamesh and started moving up the stairs. Snow and Ariel followed close behind.
Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.