Welcome to the third stop in the #exploreleira blog tour where we’re celebrating the (almost) one year book birthday for Songkeeper! It is the second book in the Songkeeper Chronicles, which tells the story of a girl who can hear the song that created the world.
If this is your first encounter with the blog tour, we are continuing a series of alphabet posts looking at the world and characters and magical creatures of the Songkeeper Chronicles … and we have an awesome giveaway that you can enter below! You can find a list of the stops and dates here: #exploreleira tour. (I will update the link once each post becomes live.)
Today, we’re looking at the letter C, and there are two posts that you can read! Be sure to stop by Deborah O’Carroll’s lovely blog to read about the Underground leader Cade Peregrine. And come back here to read about C for … Carhartan!
C is for Carhartan …
Carhartan serves the Takhran as the Second Marshal of the Khelari and plays the role of the antagonist in Orphan’s Song. I’ll admit to having a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Carhartan. But it wasn’t always that way. When he first appeared on the page, I despised him and did everything I could to make him completely unlikeable. And it was great.
He was so wicked and villainous …
Only, he wasn’t very human.
So, I went back to the drawing board. I figured out his backstory, started peppering the novel with hints, and even threw in a scene with the Takhran to garner a little sympathy. And it worked. At first. Only I still didn’t like him … and it bled through into every scene, into every word that he said, every action, every little mannerism or characteristic, so that once again, he was a villain …
And he wasn’t human.
So I went back to the drawing board again, and this time, I threw out all my preconceived notions about Carhartan the villain … and started thinking about how to make Carhartan a hero instead. If you follow my blog or Facebook page, it’s no secret that I practically grew up on the Lord of the Rings books and always adored Aragorn. And in the movie, Ranger Aragorn (as opposed to King Aragorn) was the height of coolness.
So … in order to get over my dislike of Carhartan, I decided to make him like Ranger Aragorn. (Crazy, right? Isn’t he supposed to be the villain? Why pattern any part of him after a hero?) I’m glad you asked. I realized that in order to create an antagonist who would come across as human, rather than as a cardboard cutout of an evil villain, I had to give him some redeeming quality. Something that would make me as the author like him.
It started with giving Carhartan a pipe … and yes, the scene in which we first see Carhartan’s pipe is reminiscent of the hobbits’ first glimpse of Ranger Aragorn at the Prancing Pony inn. Call it a nod, if you will, to Ranger Aragorn.
She followed Madame’s directing arm into the common room, her bare feet thudding against the cold, stone floor. The long trestle table gleamed in the firelight. Its lone occupant sat at the far end like a lurking shadow. A pipe in his mouth, meal untouched, studying Birdie with his strange dark eyes. Carhartan.
It seems so trivial, doesn’t it? Transforming a character with a pipe. But as soon as I put that pipe in Carhartan’s hand, I stopped looking at him as a villain, and instead started thinking about him as a character. From there, I made a few more changes, giving Carhartan and his character things that I liked, instead of things that I despised.
The stranger’s voice halted any further movement. “Drop your weapon.” His horse—a massive armored creature with an odd reddish-black mane and tail—danced in place, but he scarcely seemed to notice, moving with the horse like a tree swaying in the wind.
I made him a good horseman and gave him spurs. I made his horse gray, since heroes typically ride “white” steeds. And lo and behold, that subtle change in my thinking seeped into Carhartan’s scenes and his true character began to emerge on the page. He became much less of a cardboard cutout of a villain and much more interesting to me.
All of a sudden, I found myself not only liking Carhartan but feeling a tinge of pity for him. After all, he was fated to be a villain. An author can’t help feeling sorry for that.
“Time to move out.” Carhartan tapped his pipe against the sole of his boot and stood, nodding toward Birdie and Ky. “Bring them.”
Who are some of your favorite antagonists and what things made them seem more “human” and less “evil villain?”
Want to find out more about Carhartan? Check out the links below to purchase the books:
And before you leave, don’t forget to enter the giveaway! One lucky winner will take home a copy of Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper, and a gorgeous handmade mug. Two lucky winners will take home copies of Songkeeper! Open to international entries. Enter through the Rafflecopter below and be sure to continue following the blog tour. You can earn new entries for each post that you visit along the way. Winners will be announced after April 15th.