Intuition or Imagination? Meet the cast of characters
Lilleth. Sophie. Sariel. Grandfather Coyote.
There are more but I want to tell you about these four characters.
Lilleth is a cat.
Sophie is a little girl.
Sariel is an angel.
Grandfather Coyote is a coyote.
Here's the important thing (it keeps me humble, curious, excited and in awe): A lot of what I come to know about my characters, (and therefore write) feels like it is delivered courtesy of a divine introduction.
To explain I will introduce you to Lilleth and Grandfather Coyote.
Lilleth is Sophie's cat (Sophie is my novel's protagonist - you will meet her in a moment). Lilleth is magical. She's loyal only to Sophie. She is full of disdain for day to day life, interested only in protecting Sophie and fighting the dark forces. I started writing about Lilleth in the early days of the story - nearly twenty years ago. Lilleth has made it through every cut and change through twenty years. She's important. I love her. But... I didn't know how she appeared in Sophie's life - at first she was just a kitten who showed up on the door step but it didn't feel quite right. My best answers and insights come when I meditate. I've tried to gain insight into her backstory many times this way. Until this morning nothing came. I realised, this morning, in my quiet mind, that it's because she's not 'from' the earth. She's a sky creature. Somehow (I don't know how yet - as editors would write 'TK' - to come) she comes from the night sky, from the stars, and chooses to arrive in Sophie's life. As I had this realisation it felt right. Sometimes answers aren't delivered in the way I'd expect. I wasn't looking in the night sky for her. I was looking in caves hidden deep in the forest, and unloving homes from which she could escape, I even looked at celtic origin myths about cats. For some reason she is a creature of/from the sky.
Now, meet Grandfather Coyote.
The fictional planet/world I'm writing about is shrouded in heavy mist. Ash falls from the sky and sticks to people etching them in grey and black threads. Once upon a time the world was different. The light has almost gone from this world and the old ways have been long forgotten. Grandfather coyote is a guardian who walks the forests unseen and invisible to the people and the dark creatures that roam the lands. He watches the world change. He stays in the forest. He waits.
I wrote a scene this week in which Sophie (the protagonist you are soon to meet) goes into the forest ready to give up her light to try and become like everyone else. She's just a young child and it's too hard to be different. She puts herself at harm and falls unconscious, smothered by the ash. Grandfather coyote saves her.
I wondered perhaps if Grandfather coyote was woken by some magic. Perhaps he'd been asleep for centuries having lost all hope. Or perhaps a portal had opened and allowed him to step through. As with Lilleth, I asked to meet him in my meditation. I asked him where he was from. Immediately it came to me that he was from the forest. He had not been asleep, nor had he stepped through a portal. He was a creature of the earth. A guardian who had watched and witnessed the changes.
In her book, 'Big Magic', Elizabeth Gilbert talks about ideas having their own consciousness. I do, in fact, believe my characters have a kind of consciousness. I don't think they are going to walk off the page to meet me, nor that I will ever meet them in the forest. But I think there is something happening with each idea, each character, each story line - something is coming through that's bigger than me and I best access the poignant depths of the story when I open myself up to something greater than myself.
The Romans talked about Genius in a different way than we do. Genius wasn't something you had or didn't have. It was far less egotistical. Each of us has/had a 'genius' - like a divine being that followed you through life.
Perhaps when I meditate my genius collaborates with me. Perhaps I am journeying in a more traditional shamanic way and meeting spirits who gift me insight and visions. These ideas feel deeply right and I feel more excited and inspired by the story I get to write.
I promised you two more characters: Sophie and Sariel.
Sariel was my protagonist for a long time. He feels like an old friend. The story began with him long ago.
In the same way I've gleaned insight into other characters I have come to know Sariels' home is a land with a vast mountain. The mountain is home to many wise ones, of whom Sariel is one. He is an angel of inspiration meaning that his forces can be both harnessed and fuelled by inspiration. One day a little bird sings to him of a girl who is born with her soul on the outside of her body. Little bird sings that this girl will save the dark, shrouded planet. Little bird sings sweetly of this beautiful possibility and Sariels inspiration is awoken and harnessed to Little Bird's story. The two travel deep within the mountain to the Goddess who tells them no such child exists. But she agrees to create this child, and the child is Sophie, who is born into a terrible world with the weighty, impossible purpose of changing everything.