Who’s Your Favorite Character?

As I wait for the go-ahead to start writing my next book–and I never know what the “Hi” sign is going to be, the Lord always surprises me–I found myself wondering which characters in my books are the most popular. I also got onto that subject by showing my wife Travis Rodgers’ essay on “Obst the Missionary” (http://travisrodg.com/obst-bell-mountain/)–the only one of my characters who’s ever been written about by someone else, outside of a book review.

If you ask me which are my favorite characters, I can only answer, “Whoever I happen to be writing about at the time.” I think it has to be that way, if I want to make the characters come alive for the reader.

But which characters really are the readers’ favorites? Which are yours?

My youngest readers seem to like Jack and Ellayne the best, and everybody loves Wytt, the little hairy creature with the sharp stick and no capacity for fear. The old rat under the Baroness’ back porch has his contingent of fans, as does Cavall, the king’s big dog.

I know someone who liked Lord Reesh, the arch-villain, best; and I’m sure Helki the Rod, the wild man of Lintum Forest, has his cheering section. As for the old Abnak sub-chief, Uduqu–my wife and my editor were both ready to scalp me when they thought I’d killed him off.

Anyhow, I’ve got lots and lots of characters in my Bell Mountain books, and I’m intensely curious to know how readers feel about them. Besides, this discussion will be a lot of fun if everybody takes part in it.

And somewhere in one of your comments may be the seed of the next book. I never know where that’s going to turn up.

6 comments on “Who’s Your Favorite Character?

  1. I can’t say that I have a favorite. I like all of the good guys, and even have a degree of admiration for some of the bad guys. For example Lord Reese is a great villain, but there is a certain charm with regard to his collection of plastic toys from the years before Obann fell.

    Ellayne, I love for her purity of heart and innocence. She’s a good little girl that fears no adventure as long as the cause is good. Besides that, she has hair like sunshine and one does not have to be an Omah to appreciate such a thing. 🙂

    Jack reminds me of Huck Finn, at least Huck’s better qualities. He’s an innocent in many ways, yet toughened by life’s hardships. Huck Finn was used by Clemens to deconstruct the rationalizations used to justify slavery. There is a remarkable passage in that book where he realizes that Jim is every bit as human as he. It’s an example of an underprivileged and uneducated character coming to possess keen insights. I see Jack as the same sort of character.

    Even though Jack is the first character defined in the book and present for almost all of the action, he is also the character I have the least defined visual image of. Perhaps that’s the best way for it to be. Much of the story is seen from Jack’s viewpoint and it’s probably better that his character is one we cal all identify with. I see Jack as being the character that the reader can become, so Jack must be nebulous enough to allow any reader to wear his hat.

    Obst is a man of pure devotion to his God. I see him as a man that realized the futility of the fallen world and took refuge in a greater hope. He’d be thrilled to live in a hovel, eat a subsistence diet and study the scriptures, but he’s tasked with something much greater. There are few people like him in the real world, but such people are invaluable if they truly put God’s word above their own opinions.

    King Ryon reminds me of myself; not certain that he’s up to the task at hand, but willing to trust in God and keep trying. He’d love to run, but there’s nowhere for him to go. He was denied even the least of all dignities as a slave and now he’s a Divinely appointed king.

    I wish I had met Gurun when I was a younger man. Her strong faith and obedience, in combination with her Nordic beauty, is a potent combination. Surviving her harrowing boat ride is, in itself, a testament to her strength. She’s a survivor, I’m a survivor and I think that a brush with death imparts something special, whether in fiction, or real life.

    I admire Martis for his single-mindedness when it comes to duty. He was zealous for the dark side, but applied all of this zeal anew when he was enlightened.

    For all of the non-villainous characters, Godly devotion is their most admirable quality. If we knew that literally everyone on earth could be relied upon to act in harmony with God’s law for mankind, life would be much simpler (no need for draconian security) and much easier.

    As I see the entire series (I’m currently in the early pages of book 5), it’s about the Kingdom of God and how this operates in the hearts of humankind. Imagine a teenaged girl cast adrift, landing on a foreign shore and somehow keeping it together. That would be impossible unless there was a higher calling in play. The series portrays miracles, but these miracles involve the voluntary participation of faithful people. I care about all of these characters and want all of them to experience eternal blessings.

    1. I don’t know how my cover artist, Kirk DouPonce, does it, but he painted both Ellayne (“The Cellar Beneath the Cellar” and Gurun (“The Glass Bridge”) exactly as I imagined them. Exactly! As if they were real people posing for him.

      Well, he does paint from live models: so somewhere he found two girls who look exactly like these two characters in my books. Amazing, really!

    2. Now, see, this is the sort of nice guy I am. Here you go and present me with the temptation to play one of the most ancient jokes in the world, and give you the phone number of some horrible surly wench–and what do I do? Nothing! I mean, what a guy!

      Meanwhile, I am beginning to fear I might have more characters in my books than readers in real life… Dunno what I can do about that.

    3. It wouldn’t be the first time I had to fend off the attentions of a truly horrible creature. 🙂

      As far as having more characters in your books than in real life is concerned: I have the same problem. There are many days where I speak to my tech at work, fast food or convenience store personnel and no one else, all day. I know I’m too isolated, but have no idea what to do about it. I have the impression that this is becoming very common these days.

      I think it’s probably an outworking of Matthew 24:12. Many of us are fed up with the lawlessness so prevalent in our day and have become a bit wary.

  2. So many great characters…

    Helki the Rod when he sees his first great beast saying, “Lord, you have outdone yourself!!!”

    The army of King Ryons singing the “hymn” about drinking Mare’s milk out of the Thunder King’s skull…

    Martis being transformed on Bell Mountain…

    The “conversations” between Wytt and the old rat…

    Sorry, I can’t choose just one. Must say, however, that I have always found Ellayne pushy and annoying, so it was absolutely charming when she got “taken for a ride” in your latest book! I have hopes that she will mature into a wiser woman over time.

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