28.1.12 | By: Megan Langham

Beautiful People - Rhoyna verch Griffri

...and just like that, Beautiful People is back. I've missed it tremendously, though each round I have a time of it trying to decide who to tell you about. Before I did the special (and absurdly long) interview with Mairead, I was going through my more minor but still important characters from Volunteer Mission. So far I've covered Rhys, Glynnis, and Lord Iorweth: but there are still several other people who play understated yet immense roles in the plot of Evan's story, and one of them is his little sister.

Her name is Rhoyna Griffri's daughter, and she is fifteen years old.

1. If her house burned down and she was left with nothing but the clothes on her back, what would she do? Where would she go? She would break down for approximately ten minutes, after which she would pick herself up, dry her eyes, and find a friend to take her in. As she has managed to inspire friendship in nearly everyone she has ever met, this course would present few difficulties.

2. Is she happy with where she is in life, or would she like to move on? It is not in Rhoyna's nature to be sad often or for very long. The war with England tires her, but that is a circumstance beyond her control. Though she often thinks that she would prefer fighting alongside Evan to waiting uselessly at home, she won't allow that remembrance to dampen her spirit's sunshine. When she is not particularly missing her brother, she is content enough with her life.

3. Is she well-paid? She does no work to be paid for. Her family, however, sees to it that she does not want for anything.

4. Can she read? If put to it, she could pick out a poem with some difficulty. She's never been properly taught (not having seen a compelling reason to learn) but, being clever, she has learned a great deal from watching Evan when he reads.

5. What languages does she speak? Only Welsh. (That is, for the time being. Later on she may be forced to draw on the quick mind that she has for such things. Maybe.)

6. What is her biggest mistake? Nobody can know what that will be, but within the bounds of the story, her biggest mistake is one she hasn't made quite yet. And to tell you any more would be to spoil things.

7. What did she play with most as a child? Twig-made spears, other children, and theatrical fantasies.  The first is explained by her deep-seated admiration for her warrior-brother, the second by her near-constant desire for meaningful human contact, and the third by her intrinsic inclination to play and perform her way through life.

8. What are her thoughts on politics? She seldom considers politics as such: Moridic's way of explaining them is simultaneously simplistic and confusing, and somehow she does not care to discuss them with Evan. All she knows for certain is that she detests the wars for taking Evan and leaving her.

9. What is her expected lifetime? That is a very difficult question to answer, given the utterly unforeseeable nature of the future and all. Rhoyna, herself, lives her life as though she'll never die.

10. If she were falsely accused of murder, what would she do? How would she react? It is doubtful that such a shocking situation would ever arise, but if by any chance it did, she would turn utterly ruthless on her accusers. Any personal hurt would be swallowed up in her rage against the injustice of it all; she would waste no time in persuading everyone she knows (especially her betrothed and her brother) to defend her name.

Moridic nodded wordlessly and got up, still holding her hand. His promised one seemed so young to him in that moment, so tender and trembling and altogether more fragile than the child who had run into his arms only a few short hours ago. Her red-rimmed eyes shone bright, painfully bright in her pale face, but it was still the brightness of her eyes that reassured him. 
Sorrow or not, she was his Rhoyna; and he had never known her strength to waver.
22.1.12 | By: Megan Langham

Weep for the Wayward

People aren’t either wicked or noble. 
They’re like chef’s salads, 
with good things and bad things 
chopped and mixed together 
in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.
—Lemony Snicket

Did you miss me?

I've not been completely idle during my absence from the blogosphere. For example, I have been on and off ill (which I shall kindly not elaborate on); I have undergone the elaborate agony of having my wisdom teeth ruthlessly ripped from my mouth (can you say chipmunk? I couldn't, for a while); I have read a rather frightening number of books (more on that later); and while I haven't made much discernible progress with my own writing, I have learned some painfully beautiful lessons from the time I've spent with my brain-born people.

One exercise I tried (without initially considering the fact that it was an exercise) involved writing superfluous scenes from the viewpoints of characters who wouldn't normally have a point of view at all. As a character-building activity it was excellent practise, but when I reached the end of the first scene I realised it had become much more than that. I had learned to love the most uniformly evil of my charactersand because of that his actions felt all the more abhorrent and painful. I knew why he had done what he did, I knew how he became the person he was, and I saw those same stirring seeds of darkness in even the purest person associated with him. I saw them in myself.

Some time ago Jenny wrote a thoughtful and engaging post on giving one's villain a reasonable motive for actually being the villain. Well, it wasn't quite as simple as that, but the gist was similar. Villains are people too, you see, unless they are robots (and even then there must have been a human mind and heart behind them) and to reduce a person, no matter how outwardly abhorrent, to the caricature of a cackling devilthat's incredibly lazy writing, at the least. And it makes for a much less meaningful story.

It's so easy, I think, to distance ourselves from the evil in fiction. It's natural to identify solely with the protagonist and the friends who adore himafter all, that's what the protagonist is there for, right? But I think it is equally important for us to see our own failings in the characters who made the wrong decisions, to realise that if it weren't for the grace of God in our hearts we might have followed them down the darkening path, and as a result of that to care for them as people, not as plot devices. 

Because the best and truest books fit their readers for reality.

Silently berating himself for his foolish fancies, Evan stepped back. At the same time the cloaked man turned, and the light from the candle fell full on his face. It was Lord Iorweth. His face was grey and haggard, as if he had aged twenty years in two hours; even in profile, Evan could see the pain etched in every line of his expression. His hair fell loose and curling over his forehead, and his hands were white where they grasped the edges of the table. He looked like a man in the throes of death.
—Volunteer Mission