Kalyn Rhan - Deepwood Sniper
As promised in my previous blog post, today we are going to delve into Kalyn Rhan. Kalyn is a lively young archer from the little town of Deepwood in the northern end of the Bendenwoods. The town is the home of the Deepwood Snipers, a group of archers known far and wide for their prowess with the bow.
Seth crosses paths with Kalyn not long into book 4. Last we left off with our favorite halfling, he was tracking a dark mage in hopes of finding the Serpent Cult's lair. The trail leads Seth through the Bendenwoods where things swiftly go a bit awry. Lucky for Seth, Kalyn is not far away and is as good with a bow as she is with her tongue. Seth soon becomes embroiled with Kalyn and a few of her colorful friends, in his search for Serpent's Hollow.
Kalyn and her cohorts have been brought to life by my good friend, and co-author, Kathryn Fogelman. I thought it would be fun to talk to Kat a bit about her characters, how they came about, and the process of fitting them into the series. So with that in mind, I'm going to pass things over to my illustrious coauthor:
WARNING! Extreme Fangirling may occur.
Hey! I am TOTALLY freaking out that I get to do this blog post with F.P. Spirit! Like, seriously. I just… can’t even… give me a moment to breathe into a paper bag. I’m so excited! I am a big fan of the Heroes of Ravenford! So, when F.P. Spirit asked if I would like to Co-Author the fourth book in his series, the Princess of Lanfor, I didn’t even think about it. I was totally unprofessional and just squeaked like a mouse, “YESYESYESYESYES! OMG! YESYESYESYESYES!”
We took some time to discuss what level of involvement I should have, and whether we should build a totally new character for me to insert, or let me take control of characters that were already planned, like the Princess Anya, for example (can you imagine ME taking control of Anya or her cronies? Thac would blow up!). In the end, we decided to do a little of both. There was an archer that would briefly play a semi-important part in later books, but she was a passing character of very little note with a scant background or story, and therefore there was not much depth to her. We wanted to change that.
With this in mind, F.P. Spirit introduced me to Tim, the man who created the world of Thac (yes, fangirling occurred then too, but I tried to be a little more professional so as not to freak Tim out). Tim set to work showing me the characters he had created who lived in a little dot on the map, deep in the Bendenwood, a small town called Deepwood. The archers of this little town had a deep, complicated origin and history, but Tim hadn’t had the time to flesh out the town itself and bring it to life. So, he left that to me. When he explained the landscape and places of interest in and around Deepwood, my attention was immediately drawn to a river that ran near the town and was a source of food for the people in Deepwood. It was called the “Singing River”. For some reason, this river captured my imagination and made it explode with ideas.
The first thing I did in fleshing out Deepwood was create a few folk songs that the people would probably have come up with and sang to their children. Two of those songs were about the Singing River. I love folk songs, and I believe they are essential to world building, especially in a fantasy world.
From there, I fleshed out what the town looked like. It turned out to be more of a fort than a village, with walls surrounding the dwellings and watch towers in each of the corners. The 30 foot tall walls are made of giant redwood stumps, and the watch towers are carved from living trees, and look like the giant faces of bearded old men. This fort has stood for as long as anyone can remember, magically protected to withstand the ravages of time and war, and it was built by people in a by-gone age. So, Deepwooders are no stranger to the ancient and the fantastic.
As you might have guessed, Deepwood is a very small town, with maybe 300 inhabitants. Everyone knows everyone. I spent a lot of time fleshing out some of the business owners in town, and a few members of the militia that protects the town. Because they are pretty secluded from the rest of the world, the people of Deepwood are… different. They are kind and warm, but aloof and distrustful of those from the outside world. So outsiders always get mixed vibes from the townsfolk when they visit Deepwood.
“You like me, but you don’t like me?”
The people of Deepwood also talk differently. Their speech is full of witty aphorisms and colorful descriptions, not to mention dropped consonants and vowels EVERYWHERE… or too many vowels and consonants… simply put, these people make a mockery of the English language. For example:
“That’s a load o’ troll snot!” - Calling BS on something.
“He’s huntin’ for warg.” – The guy is angry.
“Funnier n’ lightin’ an orc’s ponytail on fire!” – It’s HYSTERICALLY funny.
“Slicker ‘n snot!” – That’s so cool!
“She’ll be’ a rust monster inna scrap iron pile when I shows her this!” – She’s going to be really happy.
“Go sniff an orc.” – Go away. Now.
“I hope you kiss a hag!” – Go jump off a bridge already!
You get the picture. Some people have a thicker “accent” than others, depending on where they come from, how long they’ve lived in Deepwood, and how often they visit the outside world. Although this accent and the colorful language is fun to play with, I try not to overdo it. The fact is that I understand what the character is saying, but it’s not that simple for the reader, and I certainly do not want to disrupt the reading flow. So, I only interject colorful sayings occasionally, with a few apostrophes here and there just to remind the reader that the person speaking has this peculiar accent.
Now, to talk about the character I have been crafting this entire town for: Kalyn. Remember how I said Deepwooders are aloof and distrustful of outsiders, as much as they are kind and warm to them? Kalyn throws that all out the window, especially when “The Heroes” are nearby. She is their number one fan, and she is not ashamed to announce it to the world.
Kalyn was born and raised in Deepwood. Her parents are the owners of the only tavern in town called “The Twisted Tree” (which there is a folk song about). She and her two brothers, Decon and Dyer, are all expert archers. Kalyn is the better tracker, though. While her brothers are busy hunting or drilling militia members, Kalyn can usually be found scouting the forest with her silver lynx companion, Elfar. If she’s not doing that, then she is either helping her mother and father in the tavern, or spending time with her good friend, Fran, the local “witch” and crazy person who lives just outside of town.
Kalyn’s original purpose in all of this was to help Seth out of a sticky situation (not that he can’t handle anything thrown his way… he just needs an audience to witness his awesomeness, right?) and to guide the heroes to their next destination. With that in mind, I crafted Kalyn to be an outright Heroes of Ravenford fangirl, just because it’s about time they had one, and I wanted someone that could be Seth’s sidekick... whether he wants one or not.
Also, I’ll admit, I really wanted to add myself into this story. It was just too dang irresistible! As a result, Kalyn is a LOT like me, and I am a quirky, crazy fan of the Heroes of Ravenford, and I just can’t… can’t… I need a paper bag again. The awesomeness is killing me!
Overall, I wanted to create a colorful character who brought a lot of light-hearted fun to the table, someone who practically worshiped the ground the heroes walk on, and finally get a chick for Seth, all of which I think I accomplished… okay, so, Seth and Kalyn aren’t a “couple”, but it’s really hard to peel sticky fly paper off your foot after you step in it, and then the sticky goo is impossible to wash off, and that is exactly what Seth has gotten himself into with Kalyn. Lucky him!
So there you have it. Kat brings a whole new section of Thac to life with the introduction of Kalyn and crew. They are fun-loving and wacky, but also extremely capable. And their manner of speech is positively addicitive. Just ask Seth.
Anyway, next time we will delve into the Princess of Lanfor herself. Make sure to buckle in for that one. It is always a wild ride with the Princess Anya!