Sometimes, when creating or developing characters, it’s both helpful and fun to “ask” them questions in an interview style and use the answers to further develop their personality and actions. You can get a good feel for a character in this way, not to mention have a set of answers that will be helpful to reference while writing their story.
So I had the bright idea (no pun intended) to “interview” my favorite villain, Uriale. Since he spent the last three books as the villain, his details were not as well fleshed out as my protagonists, Ranove, Balfor, and Gorzo. I figured a questionnaire was a great way to cement those details in preparation for turning the outline for his story into a fully fleshed novel. After all, Uriale is perhaps one of the most complex characters I’ve ever had to deal with, since he’s going to need to change from being truly reprehensible to being redeemable. I have no illusions about how difficult this will be. I’ve cut some of his content out of the three previous books, but I keep it around to remind me how truly ruthless and arrogant he is.
However, my “interview” didn’t go quite as planned. My characters tend to take on a life of their own, and Uriale was no different in this regard. He was also stubborn, and annoyed at the process, and let me know this in no uncertain terms. I had a difficult time getting information out of him, and in the end, didn’t come even close to completing the questionnaire, but I figured I’d share how far I managed to get. 😉
Interviewer: Can you tell me your full name, please?
Uriale: How is it that you don’t already know this? My name is known to all lesser creatures! Uriale Lightwing, Lord of Lords, Prince of the adurians.
I: I see. That’s… yes, I’ve heard some of those titles. Can you tell me what your name means?
U: I suppose it’s not surprising to learn of your complete ignorance of our language. My given name means “light of creation.” Lightwing is an ancient clan name. My heritage traces back to the origin of our species and the first adurian, Lightwing, sibling of Shadow-Wing—the first ancestor of the umbrose.
I: Ah, I didn’t realize that your people were related to the umbrose. Or is that just part of your mythos?
U: *scowling* You insult me, and my people. I do not take such offenses lightly.
I: *Laughs nervously* My apologies. I meant no offense. Let’s move on. Can you describe your physical details?
U: Do you not have eyes? Or are you so blinded by my glory that you can’t see my physical details for yourself?
I: *restrains a sigh* It’s part of the questionnaire. I was just hoping you could answer these questions for me. I can clearly see that you’re around seven feet tall and have long, platinum-blond hair and glowing eyes—
U: My eyes are golden. I’ve lost my glow. You should be able to see the color of them now, human. Why are you not paying attention?
I: *Unwilling to admit to avoiding eye contact* Ah, yes! Gold. I’ll just make a notation right here then. And how much do you weigh?
U: *Deep frown creases forehead* Better to ask the weight of my sword, lest you find it buried in your gut. Next question.
I: *Trying to conceal trembling hands by resting them in lap* Okay, um, what’s your birthday?
U: *A mildly interested expression replaces his frown* You humans measure age in years. I stopped doing that long ago. I’d say I was born around three millennia ago, give or take a century. My people don’t celebrate hatch dates. We celebrate rites of passage. The first passage into life—when we break from our shells—can take many days. I couldn’t tell you when that was for me. Very long ago. Those memories are gone. My earliest memory is my rite of passage into adulthood.
I: Oh, good, can you tell me about that?
I: O…kay. Moving on. Can you tell me your parent’s names?
U: I can. You would be better served to ask if I will.
I: *chokes back another frustrated sigh* Of course. Will you tell me your parent’s names?
U: *chuckles, clearly enjoying needling the interviewer* My father was called Garveel Lightwing. My mother was Anakel of the Four-Feather clan. They were murdered by the former umbrose prince and princess.
I: I-I’m sorry to hear that. That must have been terrible!
U: *shrugs* It was a long time ago.
I: Do you have any other family? Siblings? Grandparents?
U: I claim the lineage of Casiel Lightwing and Lailah of the Seven Feather clan. I am the only blessing of my parents just as my father was the only blessing of Casiel and Lailah. Many eggs never hatch. Many more are destroyed by the umbrose before their blessings are freed of their shells.
I: That’s horrible!
U: Destroying our nests is the only way they hoped to win the war before you humans got involved. It is a tactic our people use as well.
I: *Determined to change subject* You call your children “blessings?” I like it.
U: The adurians don’t need your approval, human.
I: Right. Of course, my mistake. Next question. Where were you born?
U: Does this really matter? I’ve told you my lineage. I claim ancestors from three mighty clans. It’s true that I wasn’t born on Mt. Nizdos as all my ancestors were before me. You can blame the umbrose for that! They destroyed our crèches on the sacred mountain. We’ve had to nest in our cities just like those savages!
I: *concerned by Uriale’s growing agitation* Oh, I’ve heard your cities are beautiful! Which one do you call home now?
U: *Levels an intent glare* You can’t be serious, human. Most of our cities have been invaded and destroyed by the umbrose. The ones my people are rebuilding under this new treaty are closed to me forever. I have been forsaken. I’ve lost my glow. I would be killed on sight by my own kind were they to see me like this.
I: *nervously rushing ahead in the questions* Do you have any medical problems or illnesses?
U: *Rises to his feet, scowling, his wings lifting and spreading to their full span* Do you mock me, soon-to-be-dead human?
I: *Puts hands up* No, no! I apologize! I was simply reading the questionnaire word-for-word! I didn’t think about that question before I asked it!
U: *Slowly folds his wings, silently glaring for a long moment before sinking back into his seat* Know this: I have been wounded in a way that should have killed me. Yet here I sit, answering your pointless questions. Consider the willpower it requires to defy my body’s insistence that it’s already dead. That is the kind of willpower that is currently saving your pitiful little life whenever you ask these insulting questions.
I: *Strongly debating running from the room, but also determined to finish* Of course, I appreciate your consideration, my lord. I’ll just carry on, shall I? *Glances at list of questions, quickly crosses off several* Do you have any distinguishing marks on your body? *winces at the stupidity of that question, given the expanse of bare chest visibly covered with tattoos*
U: You mean the ones that are quite obvious to you? My markings lay dark without my glow. They once meant something, and will mean something again once I get ahold of those human scientists who did this to me. I shall carve my new markings and dye them with their blood and tears once I have my revenge.
I: *swallows, checks list and crosses off more questions* Um… what religion are you?
U: *Narrows his eyes* The adurians follow the Father of Light, but I’ve recently lost interest in his guidance. Now that I can no longer hear his voice and that of my fallen brethren, I am free to find my own way. For now, vengeance has become my religion. I will worship at that altar until the sacrifice has been paid by the blood of those who have done this to me.
I: Um, okay. Are you married?
U: *Rises to his feet, brow lowered and snarl twisting his lips* I will never speak of my mate! Probe any further and you will die for the insult. This interview is over! My willpower is only so strong, and I’ve come to the end of my patience. *Storms out of office*
As you can see, Uriale isn’t going to make writing his story easy for me. Questionnaires appear to be out. I’ll have to find another way to delve into his character.
Anyway, I had some fun today with my character creation, and I hope you enjoyed this little session as well. It’s possible that some aspects of Uriale’s personality will change when I actually sit down to write his story, but I try to keep my characters true to their origin point, even when they make it difficult for me.
Let me know what you think, and feel free to add any questions you might like to ask Uriale. I’ll consider revisiting these character “interviews” with other characters as well. I think it’s a fun way to get a feel for a character’s … well, character. 😉