Guest Post | Writing Older Characters in High Fantasy by S. Kaeth

On Monday I shared with you 4 reasons why you should be picking up Between Starfalls as a part of the blog tour. Today I am sharing with you a guest post by the author.

Thank you again to Write Hive and Kriti from Armed with a Book for the organization of this blog tour. And of course thank you to author S. Kaeth for writing this great guest post below.

You can find the other tour stops here.

Kopie van Ontwerp zonder titel

One of the things that you may notice as you read Between Starfalls is that the characters are a bit older than some other fantasy main characters you may know. At the time I was writing it, I hadn’t found much diverse fantasy (though since, I have discovered a wealth of diverse settings, cultures, roles, ages, religions, orientations, governments, and more in fantasy!) and I was railing against that a bit. I was tired of the Chosen One who is 18 years old and comes from a humble background in a setting similar to medieval Europe. 

Don’t get me wrong–I enjoy these stories too. I just wanted something different.

Therefore, one of the choices made was to make the main characters a bit older: Takiyah, Kaemada, and Ra’ael are all 25 and Taunos is 29. I wanted them to be established in their communities, to have families, to have those connections already firmly in place. They already have their powers and know what they can do–there’s no discovery of that sort. It also just made sense to me, because it’s not like life ends when you become an adult or when you have a child to think of. Priorities change, of course, and that was fun to play with. 

The characters know where they come from, the stories of their legacies (except Takiyah), with no revelation of new parentage or background information. They’re just embedded in a community they have grown up in and worked hard to protect for years. It made it hard to get them moving on the journey, of course, but it also added a new overlay to the emotion when little Eian went missing. It’s terrible any time a child gets lost, but that panic reaches a different tenor when it’s your child missing, your family in tatters. 

BetweenStarfallsCover with blurb

When Between Starfalls begins, the only one looking for adventure is Taunos. Everyone else is focused on their community, their day to day, and their relationships with community members. It was interesting to write because the default thinking is younger, especially when you have an epic fantasy with a training exercise, so when Kaemada mentioned Eian on like the third page, I had beta reader after beta reader go “Wait, she has a kid?” So I had to figure out how to bring that out from the very first page, and it was fun thinking of all the little aspects of parenthood that we deal with on a day to day basis and weaving them in from the very beginning. 

The other thing I did was I wanted to make sure that the training exercise aged appropriately. I figured these characters were used to protecting their community–they wouldn’t get lax about their skills. And yet, again, there are ingrained expectations about a training sequence. I needed to be clear that this was not them learning about their abilities or growing their powers. They’ve had these for years, and worked together for years, and were already accomplished. So I had to write this a few different times to get it right, and I carefully added a layer of almost-bored irritation. The women are professionals, but this also isn’t anything new, and they have other concerns weighing on them. So the bickering, the banter, the complaints, all of them I tried to balance to create this feeling of routine, right up until they spot the stranger, when they increase their wariness and alertness. After all, they have families to protect. 

Having older characters, especially three who form a family with a child, created added layers of concern all throughout the story. If they’d been 18 or something and Eian was just some kid, the fear for him would still have been there, but not as palpable I think. Kaemada would have loved to explore, but with her son missing, there was no way she could focus on that. Her fear for him ends up trapping her even more than outside events do, until things come to a boil and she has no choice but to change it. Ra’ael, Kaemada, Eian, and Taunos all live together (when Taunos is home) and their fear for Eian mutes their curiosity, though Taunos sort of splits his attention. That was really difficult to balance, Taunos’s fear for Eian along with his wild love of adventure and exploration. I spent a long time trying to get that right. 

I hope that people enjoy the story, but I also hope readers enjoy the different setting (Stone Age culture) and the fact that the characters are a little older than might be expected (and continue to age as the series progresses). 

Other amazing books with a non-traditional-fantasy setting and older characters: 

About the Author

SKS Kaeth is an author of sci-fi/fantasy stories, as well as a dreamer, reader, writer, character interviewer, and worldbuilder. She was raised in the gorgeous Driftless area of the Midwest United States on a steady diet of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, mythology, legends of King Arthur, superheroes, and Doctor Who.

As a child, she told stories constantly to family and friends, and she wrote some of the worst fan fiction and short stories that no one will ever get to see. As S got older, she was inspired a great deal by Andre Norton’s Janus novels, the Foundation series, the Ender’s Game series, Wheel of Time, Ursula K LeGuin, and Ringworld.

She’s an avid reader, and has been serious about honing her craft for about ten years,
now. She finds writing necessary; it’s an integral part of who she is. Creative expression in some way helps her to get through the dark times and celebrate the bright times, making sense of the world and dealing with life in general. S has always been, and always will be, a storyteller.

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Retail Links: Amazon | Hakea-Media

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