Stories Behind the Story – #2

The world I’ve created for Elegy: The black Diamond and other stories is as diverse as I know how to write it–and that’s a large part of what made it so much fun to write. I have a whole world to play with! The various cultures and societies each have their own way of life, their own gods, their own perspectives. In a tallgrass town, the One is their deity. In the Dark Wood, the Little People pray to the Mother. Some religions are benign, others cruel. Shay Bladen, the protagonist, worships the Light, represented by the sun (the Eye of the Light) and fears the Dark, represented by the moon (the Eye of the Dark).
Shay may be a gifted gemsman, and he may have learned some dirty tricks growing up alone on the streets of Porphyr, but the fact that he owns a battleaxe doesn’t mean he has any skill with it. To him, it’s a giant gem, one he could swing wildly at someone to protect himself. Clearly, he needed a mentor.
So, who would make a good mentor for Shay? A skilled warrior of course. And just to raise the stakes a bit, I made her a woman. But that wasn’t enough. In such a diverse world–and for the sake of increased conflict–I made her a black woman. Shay had never even seen a black woman before!
Fortunately for him, Bibi is a Sheethe warrior, born into a highly skilled society of women warriors. Her belief system and way of life are very strange to a family man in a society where sons are often more coveted than daughters.
Bibi offers to train him to use his axe and teaches him other survival skills along the way. She doesn’t worry much about whether she can trust him. She’s a warrior, after all. He isn’t. Shay knows he’s pretty much at her mercy, so his trust is limited. It’s something that must be built over time–and sometimes reluctantly. Building that trust throughout the story was great fun–like teaching a wolf to rescue a rabbit.
Who was the prototype for Bibi? No individual, in this case. But like many authors, I imagine specific actors to play my characters. In Bibi’s case, the actor is Jada Pinkett Smith, a fine-looking woman with a strong face and commanding presence.
Elegy is not a romance. Bibi’s presence in Shay’s life is pure happenstance. They have no instant connection nor any immediate antagonism. Instead, two adult characters are thrown together under trying circumstances and must forge some kind of bond for mutual survival.
Or not.


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