#writerlife101: Where have you gotten your character inspiration?

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I get inspiration for characters from a lot of different things, but the original inspiration for Tanin Stormrush suggested something quite different from what he actually turned out to be.

Think back to 2004, and an action film called Man on Fire. In it, Denzel Washington plays John Creasy, a washed up CIA operative who’s hired by a mexican family to protect their daughter from the string of kidnappings that have been terrorizing wealthy families. Creasy is a man haunted by the demons of his own past, many of his own making. He is broken and wasted emotionally, and has given up on finding something to believe in again.

John Creasy served as an early inspiration for Tanin, whom I originally intended to be a much more broken character than what he ended up being. Similar to the ex-CIA agent, this roc rider would have been a man haunted by his own past mistakes and simply going through the motions of living. His demons would have frequently brought out self-destructive behaviors and worse, as the story progressed.

As I developed the character, the world, and the story, however, I quickly realized that this archetype wasn’t going to work. Not if I wanted my roc rider to have a roc with him, at any rate. I realized that a character that broken would never be able to maintain the mutual trust and respect necessary to train a wild animal, much less a bird of prey, much less a bird of prey large enough to ride.

So Tanin morphed to become a man haunted by grief, instead. In studying the stages of grief back in college I was always fascinated by how they manifest in different ways, and how people can experience more than one stage at a time. This is what we’re seeing often with Tanin.

For example, his quest to find the stolen roc egg is both a form of denial and a form of bargaining concerning the loss of his wife. Denial in that, in a way, as long as he’s working on this quest for her she’s still there with him. Bargaining in that there’s a small part of him that thinks, just maybe, if he completes this quest then maybe everything will finally be okay again.

So those are just a few of the influences that molded the character of Tanin Stormrush. Maybe as the second book continues to develop I’ll do some blogs about the influences that are shaping some of the new characters we’re going to meet.