We are delighted that author, Tessa McFionn is joining us today as part of her blog tour for her latest novel, To Discover a Divine. As part of the blog tour, Tessa has provided a fascinating guest post about Sci-Fi Character Creation.
Sci-Fi Character Creation
Guest Post by Tessa McFionn
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”
Those few words changed my entire life. It was almost my birthday all those many moons ago the day Star Wars hit the scene. And yes, I was there. Even picked up a shirt a while ago declaring that fact. I had always been into sci-fi before this. I read Bradbury and Asimov, watched Doctor Who and Red Dwarf. I even had a bridge play set with dolls from the original Star Trek. But there was something different about it. Sure, Kirk fought against the Gorn and The Doctor battled the Daleks, but this was truly the first time seeing alien creatures on the big screen.
The infamous cantina scene, where Han shot first. You still knew they were actors in crazy costumes, but there was such a rogue’s gallery of shapes and sizes all crammed into that one tiny bar.
I always believed that was what actual space aliens would be like. So much diversity and variety. I didn’t know much about the actual science behind it. The concepts of gravity, atmosphere, and genetics were far too lofty for my young mind to completely grasp, but I just knew that not everything in the universe would have two legs and walk upright.
Once I began writing my space opera in earnest, I decided to be creative when it came to my alien races. Most of them are bipedal, so shoot me. I think, at the end of the day, it’s easier to explain movement when you have characters with a skeletal structure you are familiar with. And to avoid any strangeness with the physical romantic aspect, our hero and heroine have compatible genetic make-ups. I imagined it akin to how species on island groups evolve into something unique and yet, are still genetically similar to species found on the mainland. (Thank you, Darwin. Actual science in romance. Who knew?)
After that, all bets were off, and I let my mind run riot. I looked at nature, anime, childhood cartoons, and general weirdness for my inspirations. I wanted depth, humor, and most importantly, a level of believability in each character. But first, a little lesson on the peoples inhabiting the Seven Quadrants of the Dantaran galaxy.
Our hero, Kahlym, along with his brother Brel, are from Raedyn Primus, one of five planets in that part of the system. Warriors through and through, they are strong and proud. I pictured them like giants, standing well past six and a half feet tall, with broad shoulders yet with more regal and aristocratic features. Metallic skin tones and eyes in every shade of pure gemstone imaginable. In fact, one of the reasons my heroine stands apart is because her human eyes are brown. I wanted them to be more otherworldly rather than alien. I mean, she does have to be incredibly attracted to him, so I couldn’t have him look Jabba the Hut.
The next player is my cleric and healer, Yhan’tu. Now, originally his name was going to be Falko, with my very, very tech earning the name Warwick. I liked the name, and it was a bit of an homage to one of my favorite actors, Warwick Davis. Sometimes, I think the author community has a shared mental highway and another author beat me to it. Not wanting to seem like a copycat, I shifted gears. Warwick became Falka and my physician became Yhan’tu. The design was easy. When I thought of a comforting presence, I envisioned, well, an old-style “papa san” chair. My sister had a pair of the padded round seats when I was a kid and I’d love to curl up in them. So, I made my cleric a big and round. Bald, blue and with four eyes was a crazy afterthought.
When it came to Falka, my tech, I asked, what would be helpful for someone trying to run an entire starship’s engine room pretty much alone? Why, a third arm, of course. For so much multi-tasking, the character had to be female. And how about a little helper in the form a three-foot tall owl? Sure, why not? So, Lozzan was born.
And rounding out the rogue’s gallery are my brothers, Dhaerin and R’uan, and the troublemaker, Qaen. The siblings are from a leonine race and I thought of them as a cross between the Cowardly Lion and any performer in Cats. Caring, compassionate, and spiritual, they embody loyalty and friendship. Qaen, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is dangerous and disreputable. So, for my sleazy playboy, I stole a page from my youth, and he looks very much like the “bad boy” stereotypes from early 80’s anime. You know the type: killer smile, perfect teeth, and hair that defies gravity. I opted to give him pale lavender skin and a blue and white hair, spiked out á la A Flock of Seagulls. (Young people, you might want to Google that one.)
Add to that mix, one human female. So, she was easy. Personally, I love creating their names almost as much as I love the characters themselves. Sometimes, I take a normal name and figure out an interesting way to spell it. Other times, I stare at the keyboard and start choosing random letters. No, really. I’m serious. I know it sounds completely crazy, but that’s the honest truth. I’ll look at how the letters form a word on the screen and if I like how they meld, I’ll keep it.
Just don’t ask me to pronounce some of them.
Thank you Tessa, for your fantastic guest post about sci-fi character creation.
About Tessa McFionn
Tessa McFionn is a very native Californian and has called Southern California home for most of her life, growing up in San Diego and attending college in Northern California and Orange County, only to return to San Diego to work as a teacher. Insatiably curious and imaginative, she loves to learn and discover, making her wicked knowledge of trivial facts an unwelcomed guest at many Trivial Pursuit boards.
When not writing, she can be found at the movies or at Disneyland with her husband, as well as family, friends or anyone who wants to play at the Happiest Place on Earth. She also finds her artistic soul fed through her passions for theatre, dance and music.
A proud parent of far too many high school seniors and two still living house plants, she also enjoys hockey, reading and playing Words With Friends to keep her vocabulary sharp. She is currently the treasurer of the San Diego chapter of Romance Writers of America and loves spending time working with such amazingly intelligent and creative writers.
To Discover a Divine (Rise of the Stria Book 1)
By Tessa McFionn
Fiery Seas Publishing – March 20, 2018 – Sci-Fi Romance
When Kahlym cal Jhuen, freedom-fighting leader of the Chandar Stria, breaks into a prison ship controlled by the Rimmarian Thrall, he only expected to rescue two of his crew. But when he discovers a terrified female during his escape, he is immediately captivated by her unique beauty and makes a snap decision to take her with him. However, his good deed backfires when he learns he has stolen the Thrall Emperor’s prize.
Down to her last dollar, Evainne Wagner expected nothing out of the ordinary when she stepped out of her Boston apartment. Instead, she found herself in the middle of an intergalactic firefight, complete with strange soldiers with deadly weapons pointed directly at her. Salvation arrives in the nick of time in the form of a mysterious leather-clad warrior, skidding in and whisking her away. Trusting her heart, she follows, hoping to find answers as well as a way home.
Safely on board his ship, he learns more about her and her rare skills, triggering the memory of a half-forgotten prophecy spoken at the time of his cursed birth. Outcast because of a cruel twist of fate, he finds unexpected acceptance, even affection, from his new passenger.
Could she be the one who holds the future of his people, as well as his own heart, in her tender hands?
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