Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Thoughts on Queen of the Magnetland by its author Cassandra Gannon

Chason is a really special character to me, but I wasn’t always sure about his story.  In my earliest drafts of the first book in the series (Warrior from the Shadowland), I had thought Chason and Ty could be a couple.  My thinking was the two of them had been directly hurt by Parald and that they could help each other heal.  I didn’t get very far with this idea.
In my head, the books are usually different than they eventually turn out.  A lot of this is because the characters themselves evolve and react in ways that I don’t initially expect.  I begin with a set of ideas, but the characters don’t care about them.  They just want to do what they want to do.  So, two problems quickly developed in the Ty/Chason pairing as I started writing:
Problem One) Gion showed up.  I hadn’t really planned to introduce Gion as a long term character so much as he simply appeared on canvas and stayed.  Some characters just takeover and do their own thing, ignoring my best efforts to stop them.  Gion is one of those characters.  (Kingu is another, but that’s another post.)  Anyway, within two pages of Gion and Ty interacting, I’d realized that he was completely in love with her.  This meant that the Chason/Ty pairing was never going to happen.  By which I mean, Gion wouldn’t let it happen.
Problem Two) Chason was never going to be happy with anyone but Mara.  As soon I realized that Gion had ruined my Ty/Chason plan, I turned my attention to making Chason the villain of the book.  Like many of my characters, he always straddles the line between good and bad, so backtracked in my writing and added a chapter explaining that Chason was out to wreck some destruction.  I was happy with this compromise, but then a new problem started.  Chason was so sad and grief-stricken that it was impossible for me to see him as a full-on villain.  In fact, when I showed the manuscript to Liz, she informed me that Chason was her favorite character.
So, the next question was how I could give Chase a HEA when the only woman he wanted was dead.  I tried to think of a way I could convincingly introduce a new love interest for him, but when a guy has vowed to destroy the universe over his lost love, it’s kinda hard for another girl to compete.  So fine.  The only solution was to bring Mara back.  Yes, you read that right.  Raising the dead was actually easier than finding Chason a new Match.  THAT’S how difficult this man can be to write for.
The exact “How do I get Mara back?” dilemma took a very long time to figure out.  Poor Lizzy had to hear many, many, many conversations that went something like, “Wellllll...... this happen and then this would happen and then… Oh, wait that won’t work.”  Liz would stare at me and pretend to care.  Eventually, I figure it out what was supposed to happen, but it was a loooong road.
The most important thing for me is to make the story right.  Following the characters is the best way to do that.  If I trust in them, the plot usually drives itself.  But, if I fight against them or try and make them do what they don’t want to do, I always end up with a blank page and a blinking curser.  In the end, Chason pretty much wrote his story for me, because I just listened to what he wanted to do.  Picturing him with Ty now just makes me chuckle.  What was I thinking?
- Cassandra


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