plot and characters
i wrote the first draft of spirit of a kyrie about 7yrs ago, when i was 24-25yrs old. it’s my fourth novel. (i’m an obsessive rewriter, and i’d like to redraft my first two novels before i release them, because i still don’t think they’re ready yet.) the third novel that i wrote, the gift stones, is part of the same fantasy series as kyrie, so a lot of the ideas for kyrie came while i was working on the gift stones (which was published on nov 19th, a significant date in the book). the books in the series are nonlinear, so can be read in any order.
anyone who knows me will immediately recognize spirit of a kyrie as a thinly veiled autobiographical wish-fulfillment =P. namely, it’s about my own journey to escape a starving writer/student life into a world of literary success – the pursuit of My Dream. there’s a lot of me in kit: she’s hot-headed, goal-oriented, ambitious, not always perceptive of the thoughts/feelings of those around her, has an avid curiosity, loves adventure and exploration, and has a tendency to daydream and marvel. she’s not an exact duplicate of me (none of my characters are, or ever will be), but she is a reflection of me. like kit, i also pursued my dreams into strange, foreign, and farflung lands (aka. england, where i went to graduate school). and like kit, growing up, my family had a lot of financial difficulties. i’m very grateful for what i have and i consider myself to be very lucky, but i also know the real hardships that can come with financial instability. this is why kit fights not to Save the World or to defend some moral Right, but to simply feed her family. however, she’s also ambitious in her desire to become better at what she does, to refine her craft, and overall, in her pursuit of Glory – ie. to leave a legacy beyond herself. i agree with chuck palahniuk when he said, “the goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” for me, the goal has never been to sell a certain number of copies, but to create that which will endure long after i am gone. unfortunately, i will never live to see if i’ve reached my goal.
alhallra was based roughly on the united states. it’s about the same size, with similar topography: a desert to the southwest, a rainier climate as one moves east, a forested mountain region to the northeast, and a central area of plains. for southern alhallra, i liked the idea of fusing traditionally ‘opposite’ elements; for instance, to make sallarah, i combined sand/desert with snow/arctic, and to make furia, i combined fire and water. the culture of alhallra, for the most part, is based on western civilization, such as the ancient roman empire and the british empire. the knight schools and the spectacle of the tests stem from ancient roman gladiatorial schools and arenas; the red attire of kyrion is based on ancient roman military uniform. further greco-roman influences include the main religion of alhallra, where major alhallren cities each have a patron angel the way ancient greek cities each had a patron god; each angel is also responsible for a particular facet of life (sal is the angel of bounty; cyris the angel of mourning; kyrhianna the angel of war, etc.), the way ancient greek gods also managed specific aspects of human life (demeter is the goddess of the harvest; hades the god of death; ares the god of war, etc.). and much like the ancient greeks, the alhallrans have also created a complex mythology surrounding the relationships and histories of these deities.
yes, i took a lot of ancient greco-roman classes as an undergrad, and it’s seeped into my writing. =P other features were inspired by normal day-to-day living. for example, i used to have a giant yellow cup from ikea that i was fond of as an undergrad; i called it my ‘cupbowl’ ’cause i ate cereal out of it. so i adapted it and put it into my story. the idea for mielle came when i was on one of my numerous ben and jerry shifts while working at the local cinema. there was a lot of down time that i spent just standing there behind the counter, staring at the ‘loafs’ of ice cream in their tubs; thus, mielle was born, as an ice cream-like food.
i can’t remember how i came up with the names for everything; i keep a little notebook of names that i jot in every now and then, when naming inspiration strikes, but a lot of times, i just play around with sounds. nevertheless, below is a short list of some names and their real-life inspiration:
- syrian —> cyrian (pronunciation is the same)
- rihanna —> kyrhianna
- valhalla —> alhallra
- valkyrie —> kyrie
- keira —> eira
- wool —> wolly
- alexander —> alessandran
- george —> geordian
- sahara —> sallarah
- miel (french) —> mielle