We're not supposed to embrace favoritism, right? It's frowned upon in most corners of society, seen as exclusive, and can even be considered a type of discrimination. But it's also intrinsic to human nature to have favorites and prioritize the things we favor. We are selfish creatures, after all, and nothing satisfies quite like good, old-fashioned indulgence. In the spirit of such gluttony, let's press on for a feast of artwork.
As an author and a parent, I shouldn't play favorites. But here's my confession... I do. I can get away with it in some respects because I only have one child. Yep. She's my favorite. And though I do try to give all my imaginary children equal time and attention, I must admit there are some with whom I make a stronger connection. They're more like me or have similar interests or have some trait with which I identify closely. William Hannigan (primarily of the Legend of the Grimoire series, but also in Knights of Sehaann and Fragments of Forever) is one of those characters. He's been with me almost from the beginning of my journey as a writer and was previously my favorite. But, I'm very sorry, Will, you've been dethroned. I still love you, though.
I usually realize a character has become a favorite when I can't stop wanting to put them in everything. As you can probably tell from the images in this post, my current favorite is Ethan Ryker from the Galactic Explorers series. In a lot of ways, I created him to be similar to me. But in other ways, he just appeared in my imagination with his personality fully formed. That doesn't always happen. Most of the time, it takes writing a book to the end for me to get to know my characters and figure them out. Instead, Ethan showed up and took me along on his adventure, rather than the other way around.
That might be why Eltanin was an easier book for me to write than others. It was basically typing out Ethan's story as he told it to me. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's the best way for me to describe it. I've had people ask me before how I can write without knowing exactly what's going to come out. And the answer is: I don't really know. I always outline my stories and have a general idea of where they'll go, but the twists and turns my characters take along the way can be unexpected. Sometimes, they derail things rather spectacularly and I'm forced to adjust. But that's the fun part of all this. Even I don't always know where I'll end up. These are the kinds of things that live in my head to torment me and are the reason why I can't simply stop writing. Creativity is an endlessly fascinating process. And equally as fascinating is how my characters choose to develop themselves. Again, I usually have a general idea of how they should be, but allowing them to grow organically is one of my favorite parts of writing.
Ethan is a complicated guy. He's social and outgoing but also guarded and thoughtful. He has big emotions that he doesn't always know how to handle. He's athletic and intelligent, a chess champion, a third-degree black belt in taekwondo. He has lots of friends. Despite all those things, though, he wrestles constantly with self-doubt and anxiety. I know I write often about my characters' struggles with mental health but that's because I struggle with it myself. These issues have been stigmatized in the past and though awareness has improved, there are still too many people struggling. I write about it in an effort for me to be seen and understood, and if it helps others, then I'm glad for that. Even though my characters and stories are fictional, the fundamental problems are all too real. After the last few years, I think everyone can stand to receive a little more understanding.
Ethan's from the place I love, and yes, that was one of the deliberate details. He's not only from Colorado, he's from the city I used to live in. He visits Red Rocks, and Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison--all places I know well. I've hiked the SOB Draw (which the National Parks Service tells me is now called the Pinyon Draw), taken the trail up to Fern Lake, and, as I mentioned in my last post, saw Muse live at Red Rocks. I made it to a purple belt in taekwondo. I sing my favorite Muse songs just as enthusiastically as Ethan does. Just as there's a lot of me in the story from Eltanin, there's a lot of me in Ethan as well. He's a much better chess player, though. And I can't surf or snowboard to save my life.
One of the things I love most about Ethan is how much he cares about his friends. He'll defend any one of them with everything he is and has done so frequently. Though he's cynical and sarcastic with a wry sense of humor, his heart is solid gold. There's nothing he wouldn't do to help someone who needed him. That's why he had to be the one to go rescue Ren and defend Skylar against nasty bullies and... whoops! Yeah, stay tuned for more of Ethan's shenanigans in book three. And four...
*happy sigh* Ethan and Liam are so pretty together... All the images I've posted here were ones I created as I wrote Eltanin. Except for the first one. That one is brand new today. And these are only a handful of the pieces I've done with Ethan. This is why I know he's my favorite. I can't stop creating with him. As I said, he shows up in the next book. And he'll make a cameo in book four as well. In addition to that, I've written a short story of Ethan and Liam's Christmas trip to Colorado. That'll be out later this year, in time for, you guessed it, the holidays.
It's been fun sharing some insight here today, as well as some of the art I've created. I hope you've enjoyed it. My new release Triton's Destiny is coming soon, so I'll post again when it's been published.
In the meantime, I gotta keep moving forward. You all are amazing. Thanks for reading!
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Leah Ross is a writer and graphic designer with a penchant for loud music and sappy love stories. She believes that love should be both unconventional and unconditional, rules are negotiable, and age is nothing but a number.
Copyright © 2023 Leah Ross