A Character Portrait: Elysia
Hello all! I haven't been posting as much as I should be since FR is almost upon us! I'm going to start writing reflective blog posts involving characters, places, and FAQs about plot points. Soooo I thought I'd start off with the main leading lady herself, Elysia :)
At seventeen, Elysia is the eldest of Aubryn’s and Damir’s three daughters. Growing up, she was inquisitive and sometimes rebellious but has matured into a kind-hearted, loving sister and friend. Her gentle spirit is tested, however, when she begins a journey to Yaracina’s capital city to retrieve business papers for her father and unwittingly finds herself wandering too close to a small troop of soldiers. Captured and thrown in prison, Elysia’s life is turned upside down in the blink of an eye, and she is caught up in events more perilous and intricate than she ever dreamed possible.
That’s the basic story of my first book, Young Falcon. It’s about a young(ish) girl who has never been outside the safe borders of her quaint little town and suddenly gets thrown into a world that is much bigger and more aggressive than what her parents told her it would be like. I think, at its heart, this is a theme to which many teenagers can relate. They’re growing up, and they’re learning about the world—about both amazing and wonderful things, and the things their parents wished they would never know about. Growth is inevitable, whether it’s growth in a positive direction or in a very negative one. Elysia has a solid foundation; she comes from a devoted, close family, a small community, and she has many dear friends. But none of those things prepared her for soldiers, prison, slavery, human assassins, and long, arduous treks through mountains. She has been thrown in one entirely new situation after another, and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be stopping any time soon. (Author’s hint: they won’t.) At seventeen, with the background she has, how prepared would Elysia really be for the confusing and sometimes violent things she encounters?
Young Falcon is basically my attempt to answer that question. Some people have complained that Elysia is wishy-washy, or that she needs to grow a backbone, or what have you—but perhaps surprisingly, that’s exactly what I wanted. Currently, YA books are running wild with strong, fearless, kick-butt female protagonists who are somehow (unrealistically?) capable of being simultaneously gorgeous, smart, and able to wield whichever deadly weapon the author selects—all without breaking a sweat. Oh, and she gets the guy.
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I hate more than literary clichés.
Elysia is pretty much the opposite of this, that, and the other heroine. She’s not very good with her weapon. She just wants to go home. She’s not mouthy. She barely survives her first battle and is pretty freaked out by it. She is legitimately terrified of what’s going to happen to her. She feels unworthy of the task she’s been given. She actually trusts people.
Why did I make her this way, you ask? It’s realistic, I answer. Think about it. If you were seventeen, got kidnapped, were given help escaping by a guy you barely know, were forced to fight in a realskirmish with trained soldiers, and were hunted by an assassin … wouldn’t that make you question everything you thought you knew about yourself and the whole world? But maybe that’s just me. In other YA books, the hero/ine is thrown into some devastating war or finds out s/he has magical powers, and BOOM, s/he develops all the talents possibly needed, finds a mentor who can guide our young protagonist through the hard stuff, finds a love interest, and saves the day. Oh, and did I mention s/he can wield his/her weapon with amazing agility and skill?
Elysia has none of that, not even a mentor or skill with her weapon. She is (literally) thrown to the wolves and left to fend for herself. Coming from a tiny town where the greatest danger was getting blisters from bow practice, Elysia is understandably dazed by all of this. She has no idea how to respond to all of this; she’s just trying to stay alive … and maybe deliver that egg to Efroy while she’s at it. Maybe.
Okay, so Elysia is wishy-washy, needs to grow a backbone, (insert other slightly derogatory comment here), etc. Is she always going to be like that, you ask? Let me ask you: is that realistic? When people are thrown into new, intimidating circumstances, what do they immediately start doing? Try to figure out how to cope and/or get back to safety (their previous, more comfortable situation). Elysia is doing both. Since she can’t get back to safety (Aseamir and her family), she must learn to cope. She must learn what it takes to survive these threatening people and situations she encounters—otherwise, she’s toast. Elysia is already starting to learn; she survived an actual battle with real soldiers. Pretty good for a small-town girl, right? In Book Two, she learns even more about how to navigate this big new world to which she’s been so abruptly exposed. Elysia has no choice but to discover how exactly she’s going to survive the next day, and so slowly, over time, with lots of mistakes along the way … she will change. Everyone does it—like I said earlier, growth is inevitable. Unlike other heroines who gain their new abilities/knowledge overnight, Elysia will learn at the rate of a normal person. She is still, after all, just a teenager who is forced to face things and people that very few others her same age have ever experienced.
She is doing her best to retain the part of her self that is sweet, gentle, kind, and trusting … but in a world like that, it may be more difficult than she thinks.
Follow Elysia’s journey into the second installment of Sons and Daughters to see the seeds of change (for better or for worse?) taking root in her young heart.