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Rogue Characters

This week, I asked Twitter’s #WritingCommunity to discuss a character who surprised them. There were so many amazing responses. How wonderful it was to see all these incredible stories of rogue characters and the unique ways they manifested! It was a pleasure reading everyone’s responses and I hope others enjoyed the discussion too. I realized, some of our best characters—that we love, that our readers love—weren’t really planned; at least, not in the beginning. They came to us and demanded there stories be told.

This week, #WritingCommunity authors discuss their rogue characters; how they came into being and who they are.

I hope you enjoy! And please join the conversation in the comments if you’d like. Do you have any questions for the authors? Do you have a rogue character that you would like to share?

AK Nephtali

Dotto started out as two separate people. He was Lars, an impulsive, extraverted, confident partygoer who swore too much and drank himself into oblivion every other day, and Irral, a soft, kind, chubby artificer/enchanter with anxiety.

Irral was created to be Asran’s final love interest. Asran is an introverted autistic geek, a diplomat, and a history buff, and I wanted him to have someone who was as equally nerdy as him. The romantic relationship wouldn’t work if Asran couldn’t talk about his interests and passions.

Lars was created to be Asran’s friend for the second book, one who would help him pass a certain test and stay behind as Asran ventured into the unknown for plot reasons far too spoilery and detailed to explain here.

Then Lars ended up falling in love with Asran and Asran fell in love with Lars. I assumed that Lars would be a temporary love interest since he was not kind enough for Asran, and would end up hurting him with his impulsivity. I also assumed that he was too shallow and anti-intellectual for anything real or lasting to come from their infatuation.

But he wasn’t shallow, he only looked shallow. Like a puddle which looks an inch deep but is secretly deep enough to swallow your leg. (In Dotto’s case, deep enough to drown in). I understood the exterior he presented to the world, but not who was behind it. He was a geek in disguise, hiding his intelligence and nerdy proclivities to try and appear tough.

One of his catchphrases is: “I don’t want anyone to ruin my bad reputation.” He’s terrified that if he admits he’s a good person, he’ll actually have to be one. Responsibility terrifies him because he’s messed up so many times before, and doesn’t think he can trust himself with anything.

Once I discovered that Lars was a secret softie, I decided to merge Irral and Lars into one person. Lars was the front presented to the world, Irral was the part he was suppressing, and his true self was a mixture of the two. His name became Lucky. (A name given to him by his parents, since they wanted him to bring success, luck and money to the family, and a name like Lucky was meant to bring fortune.)

“Lucky” hated this name since it reminded him of all his failures. He was disowned from his family for his anxiety and ADHD. At the start of book three, he lives paycheck to paycheck, self medicating his anxiety with expensive drugs since he refuses to pay for cheap but immorally sourced ones. He joined a gang, since no one else would hire a drag queen who swore a lot and had ADHD and dyslexia. Without the money from the gang, he’d starve to death or die of withdrawal symptoms when his drugs ran out. He could pay for cheap but immorally sourced drugs, but he’d rather die than fuel a practise that corrupt. (I haven’t figured out how the immoral practise works in full, but I know it involves child labour.) “Lucky” insisted that I shouldn’t use his given name, and he took a new one, Dotto. (He told me what it meant when he was ready — in one of the languages he spoke, dot means poke. A friend would often playfully poke him to bring him out of panic attacks/anxiety spirals, so he took that name in honour of her, and added a ‘to’ so it would just sound like nonsense syllables.)

He was far too interesting to remain a side character, and is now one of the joint protagonists. There’s a lot more to his story and how he’s developed, but I’ve given the most important details.

And so I ended up with Dotto, a panromantic asexual gangster drag queen with ADHD who used to be a farmer and who fell in love with an autistic anarchist on the run from an authoritarian government. Oh, and he’s an alien mermaid. Those are not sentences you see every day.

AK Nephtali is a British nonbinary chaos gremlin masquerading as a human. They are currently working on a high fantasy novel about alien mermaids, and run a blog while sitting down. They’ve been interviewed on @eclecticallylyn’s blog about building confidence as an autistic person. Link here:

You can find AK Nephtali on Twitter @QuillQuestions and their website

Branwen OShea

Kahali. Artwork by Rai Fiondella

In my SFF novel, The Calling, Kahali is a seventeen-year-old pansexual star being who lives during a future ice age on Earth. The star beings have never met humans and live in connection with nature and practice nonviolence and compassion. If they successfully develop these skills, they undergo a metamorphosis and experience Crowning, an event somewhat similar to enlightenment with psychic powers. When the humans emerge from their subterranean haven, they discover they are no longer the dominant life form on Earth’s surface, and chaos between the two civilizations ensues. Originally, Kahali was a minor comedic character who had a talent for drumming and dancing. He was one of three star being teens in my series—Rana, Kahali, and Eka—with Rana as the planned main character. In the first book, Kahali was originally going to either die or be too seriously wounded to participate in the further adventures of the team. He, however, had other ideas and morphed into a major character and one of the five POV in the series.

I first noticed the discrepancy between his plans and mine, lol, during a dialogue between him and Rana. They were supposed to be only friends, and he insisted on being flirtatious and having an inner narrative of angst around falling for her. As he flirted, she flirted back. This was problematic, as I had planned Eka as the love interest, and wanted to avoid the clichéd YA love triangle. Kahali insisted he be given a fair chance for Rana’s love, and when the tragic injury occurred to him, I was surprised to find his fathers had more healing abilities than expected. Kahali lived and became a super conflicted character, torn between his fury and distrust of humans and his nonviolent, forgiving star being nature.

Kahali’s injuries gave him the star being equivalent of PTSD and ongoing anger at humans, which directly conflicts with star beings’ connection with all life. If he’s not successful at overcoming his trauma, he will not Crown. His healing journey added a dimension to his relationships and the entire series plot arc that I never anticipated. I know what he and I have planned for the rest of the series, but I also know he’s a bit unpredictable and that future stories may change. I’m okay with that because I’ve found characters know themselves best.

Branwen OShea has collected unusual stories and animal friends since childhood, when wild creatures waited on her porch for help. She helped found a cat rescue and has shared her home with an opossum, skunks, raccoons, and a crow. Her interest in communicating with animals was matched by a keen urge to help people connect with themselves and the natural world through stories.

When not creating her own stories, Branwen runs her counseling private practice for teens, and contracts with nonprofits to design program development and write their workshop guides. She holds a B.A. in Biology, a B.S. in Psychology, and an MSW.

Nel Thompson

My initial plan for Beu Terran was originally going to be just a simple helpmate and co-worker to my

male protagonist, Ezra. Only appearing in one or two scenes. But, as I continued to develop the story, and the adventure continued to unfold for both my protags, Irisa, and Ezra, I began to realize just how quickly Beu was going to be an essential part of the story! Beu is the best friend, that’s been by Ezra side since his first time on a boat at 9. He was the “troublemaker”, with Him and Ezra always getting into some sort of trouble, but when it came down to a fight, he was always there for him. What I love about it him is he’s a bit of a hopeless romantic. He tends to bring that lightness into the story and helps the two navigate through the craziness. He is definitely a “ride or die” for his pirate “brother” and lets nothing stop that.

Nel Thompson is currently working on her debut novel scheduled to be released in Summer 2021. She enjoys gaming, horror films, has a second passion for the beauty industry, and in love with the Marvel Universe, but her number one is Batman. Nel resides in Texas with her husband, 3 kids, and cat, Shadow.

Laken Honeycutt

I don't usually contribute to my own blog, but I can't have a post about rogue characters without mentioning Isaac Houghton. When I first starting writing The Chrysillium Tree, he was a bit of a repulsive character. Greedy, ambitious, he manipulated the Lumani into signing away one of their sacred groves of Chrysillium trees to their arch enemies. As the High Merchant of Azantium, Isaac is one of the wealthiest people in the Azantium kingdom, a known womanizer, and drunk most of the time.

In the original version, he was a secondary character who I was looking forward to killing off. Then I started asking questions. Why is he like this? And he spoke to me. He told me his story of growing up a poor boy in Thalis. Isaac spoke to me of Cyp, the Azantium merchant who used to visit his parents and how Isaac aspired to be like him. Isaac fought long and hard to become a merchant and, through his drive and ambition, he began to hate himself. Trapped and feeling disempowered to change, Isaac started drinking. And the women were using him as much as he’s using them. It’s all an insidious game of smoke and mirrors that Isaac is mired in. Then he meets a slave woman with lavender eyes and tattoos on her hands and he wants nothing more than to fall into what he feels when he's with her, but she resists his charms knowing he needs to find his own way. Does he? We'll have to see about that...

Hooked. And so, Isaac became one of the three MCs in The Chrysillium Tree. And, to my great surprise, he’s become a reader favorite. He even has his own hashtag now (looking at you, Michele Quirke 💖).

The Chrysillium Tree is Laken Honeycutt’s debut fantasy novel releasing on September 22nd. Laken enjoys weaving stories from the sanctuary of her forest home in New England. Enamored by the stars and with a deep connection to nature, Laken’s work often includes celestial wonders and the natural magic of forests. She is also an avid reader who enjoys hiking, surfing, biking, trail running, and kayaking.

I do hope you've enjoyed this week's Author Nook! Please remember to join the #AuthorNook discussion on Twitter every Tuesday and the blog post here every Sunday to read more from featured #WritingCommunity authors and artists. - Laken 🌹

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I loved hearing about all the rogue characters and how they were too stubborn to remain minor. They almost have a life of their own.

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