The heart of stories are the characters. Growing characters is a fun, complex, sometimes confusing, sometimes exhilarating, always challenging process.
Jaysin in The Last Wizard Saga is a fascinating character. He first appears in Tamesan’s Song as Tam’s little brother, a child a few years younger than the older son, Chasse, and at least five years behind Tam.
In a family, a gap between siblings can exist for many reasons – a lost pregnancy between, an unplanned addition, family upheavals or displacements, and so on. The age gap presents a range of challenges for the family and the child at the end of the gap. So, too, does birth order. In the ‘real’ world, third child syndrome is a legitimate study. The third child becomes the ‘distant’ child, the one everyone knows what will happen to him/her, the one that finds parents don’t panic when awkward things happen to them or celebrate their first steps or growth moments. Light internet reading, if you’re truly bored, reveals the following views on third child syndrome:
Jaysin is introduced into the first book as a misfit, an unusual child. He doesn’t display the typical male characteristics expected in his world – playfulness, vigour, interested in wrestling and tussling for alpha dominance. Instead, he withdraws from the other children, partly because he has little interest in their games and partly because the other children recognise his difference and ostracise him. Jaysin’s disinterest in ‘manly’ pursuits aggravates his father and the relationship deteriorates as Kevan expresses his disappointment in his son. Ironically, when Kevan faces Trask in a fight for leadership, Jaysin leaps to his father’s defence, futile as such an act would be for a nine-year-old. In having him do this, I sow the seed that, despite his estrangement from his father, he loves him.
Jaysin does show interest in the natural world, much like his sister, and he explores the mountain and studies the animals. He is very much a loner. Later in the story, Eric the Herbal Man tells Tam that Jaysin will become someone special, because of his curiosity and innate intelligence. So, in Tamesan’s Song, I foreshadow that Jaysin will come into his own. That first book, published in 1995, was always meant to be a stand-alone novel, but now that it is growing into a four-book saga the seeds I planted for Jaysin are flourishing.
I add more foreshadowing to Jaysin’s prophesied future in the second book, Chasse’s Song. While the second book is Chasse’s coming of age story as he comes to terms with his purpose in the scheme of the world, Jaysin’s growth continues as a side plot. Here, I ensure Jaysin becomes an avid reader and a natural acquirer and generator of magic, exactly as Eric foretold in the first book. The quiet, studious and distant child reveals his affinity for animals, especially wolves, and demonstrates that he not only wants to learn spells but wants to modify, synthesise and expand them.
By the time we reach the current project, Jaysin’s Song, at fifteen, Jaysin is developing into a fledgling sorcerer, capable of manipulating the latent energy in all matter to create light and heat, heal, move through materials, translocate and fool the minds of others through illusion.
Being the third child, Jaysin is both in awe of his sibling’s abilities – Chasse the warrior, Tam the wizard and dragon partner – and intensely jealous of them. His jealousy drives him to want to become as powerful as they are, even more so, because, in their ways they have received the attention and the accolades of others while he has sat in their shadows as the ‘odd’ child, the little brother. He does love them – will willingly risk his life for them – but, in the end, he wants to rise above them and be known for his talent.
Thus, writing book three involves creating Jaysin consistently and believably as the third child, the youngest brother who wants recognition and love and to be appreciated in exactly the same way as his siblings. As he did for his father, he will go out of his way to save his brother and sister. As Eric predicted, he will pursue magic and become unique. As foreshadowed from the outset, his curiosity will drive him to search for knowledge and magic beyond the basics. While he is forced to interact with others, even enlist their assistance, he is ultimately a loner still, an individual who believes he can only become who wants to become by his efforts and risks and commitment.
Character development drives my writing. I used to tell writing workshop participants that, while I made notes and plans for characters, I only come to know my characters as their story unfolds and they often surprise me by revealing an aspect of their personality I hadn’t planned or considered. This experience is endured and loved by writers all over the world. It’s true. We learn as we write.
Writing is my passion. Ideas, opinions, beliefs, experiences expressed through language - through words and images - pervade and create my life. Writing is my voice, my soul, my self. My dream is one day writing will sustain my life...