Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Remember When . . . Characters Appeared

I'm having a blast digging into the writing of A Soft Breath of Wind. Right now, on chapter 2, I'm still getting to know my characters. And so, I'm building Pinterest boards and playing with Photoshop and coming up with images to inspire me.

I thought it would be fun today to introduce the characters that will be ruling my brain for the next little while. =)

Let's start with my heroine, Zipporah.

My cover model is so delightfully Zipporah
that I'm describing my character to match her, right down to
the clothes and accessories. =)

Zipporah was always the not-so-pretty one. Anna, her older sister, was the type of gorgeous that men fight wars over, and Zipporah always knew she was just a shadow in comparison. But she was okay with that. She loved her sister, and she was happy enough with her good qualities. But when a gift of the Spirit opens her eyes to the angels and demons swarming around her, she faces down the enemy and comes away scarred.

As she grows from that thirteen year old into a young woman, Zipporah sometimes has a hard time balancing her internal and external lives. She desperately needed to learn how to restrain her emotions when her spiritual eyes were opened...but as a result has closed them up a bit too much. She can be witty, she has deep abiding friendships--but in a group setting she tends to stick to the walls and leave the socialization to others.

Zipporah is confident in who she is, likes to say that the Lord in His wisdom chose not to burden with beauty, as He well knew she couldn't have handled it. She carries herself well and serves her masters with love.

But she has long ago resigned herself to never experiencing any other kind of love. For years now she has watched her master, Benjamin, with adoration. But he, much as he values her as a friend and sister in Christ, has never seen her as anything more.

Which is just as well. She is all but sure that someday, she will have to lay her life down for her faith, and the last thing she wants is to leave a husband mourning for her, like Samuel when Anna died in childbirth.

A stylized Zac Efron (with the costume of Billy Zane's character from Cleopatra)
as Benjamin Visibullis

Benjamin Visibullis is in some ways the most important person to the growing Roman church. He's the legal owner of the Visibullis estate outside Rome where Jews and Christians congregate. Tutelos is more than a villa now, more than home--it's a small town full of many families, all of whom rely on him.

Benjamin takes his responsibilities seriously and wants nothing more than to serve the Brethren...but he cannot shake the feeling that the Lord is calling him away from Tutelos, off to see the rest of the churches and, perhaps, spread the good news to places who have yet to hear about the Messiah. His mother insists he cannot put his life at such risk until he has married and established an heir, and that is logic he understands. But no woman in Rome fits his idea of the bride Jehovah has in store. And so, after years of prayer, he finally sets sail to visit the growing churches, Samuel with him to keep him safe.

Their travels take them eventually to Jerusalem for the Passover, but returning to the land of his birth only shows him that it's time to go home to Rome. When a trip through the city leads them unexpectedly to Samuel's birth-family--including the mother who sold him as a slave to Benjamin's father 25 years before--he has to admit his eye is caught by his step-brother's beautiful sister. Dara's face, Dara's words say she is what he has been waiting for.

But something within Benjamin knows she's trouble--and he finds out the hard way that he should have heeded the whisper. But by then, the enemy is already entrenched at Tutelos...and he fears he may have undone all he was ever called to do.

A stylized Jason Lewis as Samuel Asinius
Samuel kinda took me by surprise in A Stray Drop of Blood. While I had planned the BIG plot twists from the get-go, I didn't see the little slave boy coming, and so I certainly didn't know the pivotal role he would end up playing in the second half of the book. But I fell in love with that beautiful little boy with a nurturing touch, and oh, how I'm already enjoying seeing the man he's become!

At the end of Stray Drop, Samuel was legally adopted by Titus Asinius, so he's the joint-heir of a pretty impressive Roman estate. This for a boy born a poor Hebrew, sold into slavery to a Roman, and moved to Rome when only 6. Now 31, Samuel is still a nurturer, a healer. Though not officially a physician, he's been trained by one and is the man to whom everyone at Tutelos turns when they need medical help.

He's also still the self-appointed protector of Benjamin, brother in heart if not by blood. After his wife and their child die in childbirth, Samuel mourns long and hard...and finally welcomes the excuse to escape her memory and travel with Benjamin. When he meets his "real" family in Jerusalem, his heart doesn't even stir, though. These people are less than strangers to him. He had long ago erased his mother from his heart, and the sister who seems bent on coming with him back to Rome...he knows there's something wrong with her claims. But who is he to turn away someone who claims she wants to learn more about Christ?

But when they take her home to Tutelos and Zipporah immediately recognizes the evil within her, he knows they've made a grave error. Perhaps the rest of the church would prefer to chalk Zipporah's strong reaction up to jealousy--it's no secret she's always loved Benjamin, who Dara now dares to claim--Samuel has always trusted his wife's little sister when it comes to matters of the Spirit. And he'll stand with her now and fight for the Way.

A stylized Sophia Myles as Dara
Dara is beautiful--and she uses it as a weapon. Endowed with a spirit of fortune telling, she serves a master in Jerusalem who has taught her how to hone her skills, both as a beauty and an oracle. Those who know what she is serve or fear her...and those who don't still stand in awe of her unusual looks. She doesn't just always get her way--she makes her way when the world might try to stand against her. She wants nothing more than to belong fully to her master, but he has said since she was little more than a child that she can serve him best through her marriage. That only by waiting for the right man can she serve their cause--and bring an end to the sacrilege of Christianity worming its way throughout the world.

When she realizes she has an older brother--and sees the one he calls "brother" by adoption--she knows her master was right. Her fate lies with Benjamin Visibullis. He is the fulcrum of one of the most important sects of the blasphemers. And it will be no great hardship to pass her days--and nights--beside the handsome Benjamin.

Who is Dara beyond the tool of this "master"? Well that's just the thing--she doesn't know. She has served him so long, so fully, always in secret that she cannot separate anymore who-he-made-her from who-she-was-born-to-be. Her whole purpose in living, in her eyes, is to serve him. To make his causer her own. To undermine their sworn enemy--Christians. Can she be cruel? Without question. Can she be kind? When it suits her. Has she a heart underneath the hatred? She's none too sure.

It's been a long time since I've written a bad girl who doesn't reform right away, so this is going to be fun. ;-) Of course, I have some plans in store for our nasty little Dara. First though, we pit discernment against fortune telling. One Spirit against another spirit. Darkness against light.

And the real fun? Light doesn't just defeat the darkness, right? It banishes it, and the things once dark become light.

Yep. Gonna have a blast with this one. =)


  1. Wow! Your enthusiasm for your new book shines through your words in this post. I love the planning-and-plotting stage of writing when characters come to life! I like your description of Samuel especially. I Hope you have a fabulously happy ending planned for him somehow! :)

    God bless your writing today!

    1. The coming-together stage is so fun, isn't it? And no worries--Samuel has the happiest of endings in store. =)

  2. Oooh - need to reread Stray Drop - AND read this one. Sounds FABULOUS! Can't wait (as usual :D)

  3. WOw! I love all of this! The pictures, the character profiles...can't wait to read this one!
    P.S: Zac Efron=PERFECT!

  4. Oh my! I LOVE THIS!! I haven't read a stray drop of blood but I plan to now. I absolutely love the plot and oh, the characters!! Although Dara's supposed to be the "bad guy" something about her is quite intriguing. And Zipporah's love for Benjamin...ahhh, I can't wait for you to be done with this so that I can read it. Sounds perfect. I can't imagine the fun you're having!

    I also really like the pinterest idea and giving your characters faces. Perfect!

    Tell the World