Leonardi, Grandhaft, Brewhewer, and Some Thoughts On Inspiration
Remember how ealier I was talking about how easy it is to come up with characters? Well that's not proving to be totally true. Getting started is tricky, and there is a major procrastination urge. It doesn't help that Summer is getting here and turning the idea of sitting at the computer for a couple more hours than I already have to into a nauseating prospect. But you didn't come here to read about my glorious 40 mile bike ride around Lake Washington over to Redhook Brewery (although I could tie that in to a brewery review for you to read... maybe another time), you came here to read about the next handful of characters in the Viking Murder Mystery. Nope I still haven't come up with a better name.
Before I dive in, I want to take a second to talk about inspiration. Inspiration is that little spark that you get that helps you get started thinking. It's the little ideas that come to you while you are staring at an empty notepad, pen in hand. We all share the same sources for inspiration. They say that no one can ever write anything original, all you can do is rehash, adapt, or add to something that has already been written. In that way, inspiration is the tiny thing, barely noticed and in the background, that serves to connect whatever you write to whoever is reading. Inspiration is almost like the opposite of originality. If you have an idea free from inspiration that can't trace it back to it's actual original source, it's more original. I'm not like that. I need inspiration.
When I was writing Sabotage Adrift, I had to name the space ship that the mystery takes place on. I thought of several names, most of them were made up words that sounded sciencey, but none of them would stick. Just like naming your child, you're probably gonna go with something that you've heard before. Name them something original and you end up with a brand new spelling of the word "Unique," or worse, some celebrity child name like "Apple." In the end I went with "Epsilon." Part of me knew that name wasn't in any way original, and it almost felt like a cop-out. It's not like that name was a direct reference to another space ship or stolen from some other source, but naming a spaceship after a Greek letter was too easy. The smarter part of me knew that anyone who heard that name would think "Yup, that's definitely not, not a space ship name," and that is all I really need.
I'm not saying these characters are derivative, they just don't have names like Katniss or Frodo or Archer. Those names are pretty original (or at least they were, obviously they aren't anymore, and you can tell that to any of the new moms in the last 5 years naming their daughters Katniss). My names are as original as they are gonna get, but they clearly have some sources of inspiration. See if you can spot them. Let's get this character showcase on the roadcase.
Leonardi is a captive. He's been held against his will for decades after being captured exploring the northern seas. His crew was killed, his ship was scuttled, and his cargo of ancient curiosities was confiscated. A scribe and sage during his time before being a viking prisoner, he has used those skills to make himself useful for his captors, the Forkbeards. He is held in high regard by the King and Queen and is even allowed to live freely in the village, for they know after his years of servitude, he has no where left to go. He is relentlessly charismatic and persuasive, and he knows how to use knowledge to his advantage. He is never without his quill and paper. Has he been biding his time, waiting for his change to escape or is he truly resigned to his life of forced servitude? His favorite drink is Black and Tan.
Grandhaft is old. Old enough to be the grand father of King Sven. He's guided many generations through the throne and has always been a trusted adviser to the King and Queen. He carries a long, old staff, the remnants of the enormous battle axe he wielded during battle in his youth, and some claim it has magic powers. Some are suspicious of his influence on the King, thinking that such an old soul carries with it generation of souring and prejudices. Others are thankful that so much experience has been used to aid fledgling rulers throughout the generations. At this rate, Grandhaft will still be around to teach young Ulfgar a thing or two when he takes his father's place. Grandhaft speaks with the wisdom of ages, he is slow to anger, and slower to forgive. His favorite drink is barleywine.
Brewhewer is the King Sven's personal brewer. He and his staff of three dozen make up the largest company in the village. While his men toil in his brewhouse, Brewhewer designs recipes and manages the demanding thirst of the village and the King. An artist as much as a craftsman, his consistency is topped only by his attention to detail. He has gathered recipes from the corners of the world and tapped into vast networks of traders to gather the finest ingredients. He is always happy to share a story over a beer, and few find it possible to not be his friend. His jovial nature hides a cool, calculating mind. It's not as easy as it looks to keep up with what is asked of him, and it takes a great deal of focus and wit to stay ahead of the game. His favorite drink is a recipe of his own design, the Black IPA.