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 own 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. 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 Ophelia and I had another book growing in the back of my head.
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. 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 particular point in the ‘Books Beneath’ (working title) has potential to become it’s own novel, set in the ‘Ghoul’ universe, or it may become a short novella, a side story to Ghoul.
Ophelia was 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 a 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.