Tim has managed to capture my favorite thing about writing — that moment when …
Wait, I’ll let him describe it in his own words.
Djuri started life as a severed head in a sack. Not a promising start, even for a minor character. There was something, even then, nagging at the back of my mind. Djuri – that’s too good a name to waste on a severed head.
At the same time, I had another character whose name didn’t fit because he’d gone from being a minor background figure (i.e. having a name, which as fantasy authors all know is a small yet significant step up from being ‘the warrior’) into something more. He kept tugging at my shirtsleeve, saying things like “My story’s interesting, write more about me.”
Stories often focus on the hero’s victories and accomplishments, whereas Djuri’s tale is one of defeat and how people deal with the consequences. It’s so hard to explain this process to a non-writer but as soon as I brought Djuri’s name together with that character he came alive for me, in a way he hadn’t before. Djuri’s story was hard choices and a life full of regret. I found myself pulling for him, even though he was fighting on the wrong side.
The severed head guy got Djuri’s old name (sorry Igull) and Djuri walked onto the pages clearly for the first time. He was a character who never featured in my original plotline for Hall of Bones. However, I can’t now imagine The Brotherhood of the Eagle series without Djuri. His character provided a vantage point for the story that I didn’t even know it needed. When I began writing it was an “Oh, this is interesting moment.” They’re the best kind.
When you’re surprised by your own writing and the story takes you off in a different direction, that’s a real payback moment for an author. Djuri provided that moment for me in Hall of Bones, and I’ll be forever grateful.