While writing my upcoming novel Ghoul, I created a character designed to serve the function of a ‘talking head’ aka someone for Mya, the protagonist, to bounce ideas off. However, I understand talking heads are bad; they result in clunky dialogue that’s obviously just exposition in the form of dialogue. So, with that in mind, I tried to turn my talking head into a semi-developed character with her goals and motivations.
I made this character a Sphinx. I’ve always been fond of a bit of Egyptian mythology, as those who read Amenti will have noticed, and it didn’t take me long to decide where in London my Sphinx would live and she promptly moved into the Egyptian walk of Highgate Cemetery.
I started drafting a bit of dialogue between my Sphinx and Mya, and before I knew where I was my ‘talking head’ fast outgrew the role she was designed for and took on a life of her own. My Sphinx had become Kepi and all of a sudden I had another book growing in the back of my head.
While Kepi lives in the Highgate Cemetery close to the ghouls who dwell beneath it, there is another Sphinx in London. Ophelia and Ophelia even as a rough character concept was very demanding and spent her first hours of life in my head telling me her story.
The Books Beneath.
Ophelia has a tragic beginning as an orphan, not to tug on the heartstrings but because I did not want more than one Sphinx in her story. She is unique, and it is her oddball nature that makes her story interesting.
Being raised by one of the Masters of London as a quirk, little more than one of his foibles, she struggles to find her place in his house. Even when away from him she is constricted by his influence. Unable to become her true self while under his rule she leaves him and heads out into the murky London streets to find her place.
Able to change her shape she finds herself gravitating towards the werewolves, feeling a connection with them and their way of life. However, as her relationship with the wolves begins to grow and take shape, her old Master sees her as a way to manipulate his old adversary and Ophelia finds herself pulled between her old Master and her new family.
At this point, the ‘Books Beneath’ (working title) has potential to become it’s own novel, set in the same universe as my current project ‘Ghoul’. Or it may become a short novella, a side story to Ghoul, something to flesh out the world where Mya lives and show how the different races interact with each other. I’m not sure yet.
Ophelia is a lot of fun to write; she’s different to all the other characters in my Ghoul universe. She is happy and confident, despite her situation. She has an open curiosity and a bighearted way of viewing the world where a wrongly spoken word can mean the end of you.
To be entirely honest I think I created Ophelia because I was getting depressed in my Ghoul universe. There’s a whole lot of grief to go around in Monstrous London. Ophelia is perhaps my brightest light.
I’m curious to know if I’m alone in this if I am the only one to get sucked in and depressed by a universe they have created, so much so that I had to create a character to balance all the darkness and misery I’ve unintentionally brought into being.
The Ghoul universe was never meant to be so depressing; it was designed to be threatening but also alluring, another layer to a city already steeped in blood-soaked history. I seem to have lost an element of control over this world and really must put more effort into reigning it back in before it becomes something I no longer want to work with.
I think it’s going to take a few more “Ophelia’s” to bring the light back to my London.
Katie Marie wrote a Book. A big one and a couple of little ones. Check them out!