Monthly Archives: April 2014

Character Spotlight: Miles Reyner the Entertainer

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So this week’s spotlight is on Miles Reyner, the sweet pop star who’s first introduced in Runs In Good Condition.

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Miles is a charming clean-cut teen idol in RiGC in which I kind of combine modern stars like Zach Efron and Justin Beiber with more old-timey super stars like Vivaldi or Mozart. He defies the stereotype of the jerkwad teen with too much fame money and power, but is that simply because he’s trying to make a good impression on Linus’s oldest daughter or not? He’s the reason several songs appear in RiGC, although I’m learning that I will never be able to STOP putting songs in my books, no matter how I try.

The biggest question I get about Miles is why he’s so different in CRIT! than he is in Runs In Good Condition? Well that ultimately comes down to writing teams. I wrote RiGC long before we’d conceived of doing a comic about it and shortly after we started writing CRIT! my brother, Dave Joria, was wondering if he could be “in charge” of a character for writing sessions (aka: D&D games).

I told him I had a Bard in my next book and gave him a loving description of Miles Reyner…and Dave chucked it out the window. That’s why in the comic, Miles is a obtuse, egocentric, bombastic, glory hound in tight leather pants. It was so hilarious I didn’t have the heart to make him stop. He was even the inspiration behind the Handbook for Saucy Bards, which has been our breakout hit!

So does that mean the two Miles have no connection? Wellllll. Let’s just say that Justin Beiber was once a “sweet kid” too.

FUN FACTS:

*Miles is actually Half-elven. It just never comes up in the book (there are LOTS of Half-elves in Gwynnharrafadd). Also, his hair tends to cover his ears.

*One of Mile’s trademark decorations is a quizzing glass on a chain (a sort of monocle with a handle), a fashionable piece of jewelry in the Regency Period.

*Almost all of Miles’ songs are written down in the book with the exception of the opening number for his concert. In my head, he’s always singing this song: the song that inspired him.

The Entertainer by Billy Joel. I do not own the rights to this clip.

That’s it for Miles this week. I look forward to your comments and suggestions for next week’s victim!

 

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MMORPGs and Character Exploration

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If I haven’t let my geek flag fly enough lately *snort* let me amend that by confessing that I love my MMORPGs. I’m not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination. I only play a few games, namely Lord of the Rings Online, DC Universe Online, Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter, and Star Wars Old Republic. My first real video game was LOTRO back in ’10. There was something about it that caught and hooked me and it wasn’t just visiting all the people and places in Middle Earth that I’d always dreamed of seeing. I made a few of my characters, Linus and Deirdre chiefly, because they lent themselves well to the fantasy genre and I already liked them.

I wanted to make an Elf character, and someone else was using “Morfindel,” so I made Vilori Reagan. He was only a little tertiary character in my book, nothing special, but then something astonishing happened. As I played with Vilori and made more decisions, I began to learn things about him! I learned his likes, his dislikes, his point of view, his motivations and pursuits and dreams!

That’s what gave rise to the Vilori Reagan as he exists in Runs in Good Condition and not just a crotchety one-liner guy.

It didn’t stop there, either. I got to know Linus and Deirdre better too, as well as some of my upcoming characters. Now if I don’t know what a character’s about, I create a character for them and pay very close attention to how they work. What tasks do they like, what don’t they like. Do they like fights or avoid them? Are they abrupt or surreptitious? Do they help people for money or because they feel altruistic? What hobbies do they have? These are all things most writers like to explore to make a fleshed out character.

And maybe, if you’re lucky, some really hilarious incidents will make it into a book, (Like the fact that in Halfling Towns, all of the lamp posts hang their lights at just the right height to conk Linus on the head.)

So just thought I’d toss that out there. MMORPGs are a great way to unwind and kill things when the world looks stupid, but it’s also an enjoyable way to get inside your characters’ heads and get your hands dirty.

 

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Picture courtesy of Lord of the Rings Online and belongs to Turbine Entertainment and Warnr Brothers Home Entertainment

So if you see a Character on the Landroval server that has a name like one of my characters, say hi! it might be me. 🙂

Who’s Kevin McRealguy

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A while ago I had this conversation on Facebook:

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Me: Toying with the idea of a male pen name to publish under, but I keep getting the sillies. So far I’ve gotten Mann Riter, Duke Longcock, Dude Macho, Kevin Realguy, and Birk Totesman.
Replies:
1: Jock Manbro?
Me: Slab McRib
1: Stan McDudeguy
2: Chin McNads
Me: Harry Guymember
1: Brock Blokeyfist
Me: Stache Von Surham
1: Sir Male Mansome of the Muscle-upon-Hardbody Mansomes.
Me: Tor Ironbatch
3: Bob Johnson (oh wait.)

 

It was funny enough at first, and I got something like an unprecedented 65 responses, all in the vein of silly names. It was a lot of fun, but in the end it made me very depressed. I kept thinking about what might of happened if I HAD been a male writing Fantasy instead of a woman.

First of all, this discussion popped up after a fellow writer Emma Newman had done a large initiative towards Waterstones books after they published a sort of  “Dummy’s Guide to Fantasy Authors” which featured predominately white male authors. I’m usually pretty much in the dark about this kind of bias. I grew up with brothers, most of my friends growing up were guys, and so on, so I usually think of myself as “one of the guys.” I’d toyed with the idea of a pen name or doing the ‘initial thing’ early on, but decided not to because I naively thought that it wouldn’t matter. “No one is going to care, right?”

It’s only when I see the surprise on people’s face when I tell them I’m an author and the genre is NOT romance or erotica that it hits home. It hits home further when I see people stop at my table to look at my books or comics, only to see that I’m the author/artist and then put it down with a sneer (ouch).

It’s disheartening and annoying to think that people aren’t judging my books by what I wrote in them. Instead they’re judging me and something I can’t control.

I know, I know. Total pity-party time. “Cry me river. Ever think it’s because you just suck and it’s nothing to do with your gender?”

It’s possible. But thanks to the common myth that “women can’t/don’t write Fantasy,” I’m not sure I’ll ever know for sure which it is. I have no “control group.” Unless I were to engage in some rom-com worthy gender-bending disguise antic that would fool the world into thinking I’m a male writer only to have it backfire on me with hilarious results and teaching the world a lesson about gender equality. And then we all have pie and coffee.

Seriously, though, I’m half considering showing up at my next con looking like this:

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I’m out. Peace. 

 

So Why Elves?

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Elves were always my favorite part of Lord of the Rings, and most fantasy things come to that. I love the mystery and the majesty of and ancient people still living among us. Their eyes have gods in the elder days and the rise and fall of empires. They have a stoic reticence to interfere yet they always have a philosophical opinion on things. 

But they REALLY became my favorite when I stopped writing serious (read: boring) Fantasy and started reading comedy. Sir Terry Pratchett never wrote up Elves in a comedic light, like he did with the Dwarves—and thank GOD because I’d hate to have to follow that act—but reading his works made me realise that my favorite victims of comedy are people who take themselves to seriously. And there’s nothing more serious than an Elf.

Dignity, and the loss of said dignity, is a great staple of comedy and the greater the dignity, the funnier it is. It’s also when you get people who have illusions of being wise and serious when really they’re a bunch of prats. I always found myself wondering if the Elves really ARE wise and all-knowing or are they just pompous codgers who’re full of shit.

In the end you get lovely character sketches of Elves that are less like Elrond and more like Bertie Wooster.

Throw in lots of money and connections and suicidal tendancies when they get depressed and you get this with pointy ears on:

(I do not own the rights to this clip which is from “And Now For Something Completely Different)

 

…Which is how I came up with Lynald Wingaurd. 

Hope that explains some things. Any further questions about my thing with Elves, feel free to ask in the comments.

 

Getting to Know Morfindel

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(Note: This is a repost after the first page got deleted. Apologies)
Character Wednesday!

I had a request for one on Morfindel Cunlias this week and I’m happy to oblige.

Here’s Morf!

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Morf comes from both the Linus Saga books and its parallel dimension CRIT! He’s a young Elf, only 20 when we meet him, who still has a lot of growing to do. He tries to do his very best at all times, but usually ends up stymieing himself with his own naivete and impulsive nature.

He started off as a nuisance newbie hanging on Linus but over the series he’s starting to become Linus’ best friend… a bond that’s put to the test a lot when he falls for Linus’ oldest daughter.

SO! Some fun facts.

* To answer most people’s question, his surname, Cunlias, is pronounced “Koon-lees.”

*His mannerisms and personality are based on one of my best friends.

*Morfindel thinks of Linus as a father figure, even if Linus would rather think of him as a younger brother. He tends to gravitate to fatherly figures after being raised in a male mission since he was three. It also explains his avid attraction to women yet his complete inability to comprehend them.

*He has yellow eyes (those exist, I’ve seen them!) which hint at his true roots. More on that in future books.

*I cut Morfindel’s hair off out of spite because I hated drawing it in the comic. Much sooner in the book, and those tresses’ days are numbered in the comic too. I HATE long hair.

*Morf hates raisins. The monastery used raisins to sweeten a lot of dishes for the children and Morf  got thoroughly sick of them early on.

 

That’s all for this week! Let me know who you want for next week.