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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

GetToKnowTheBook: Starquest by Hywela Lyn.

Starquest by Hywela Lyn
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I didn’t mean to fall in love with my characters. ‘Starquest’ started out as a short futuristic story, complete with cast. First came Kerry Marchant. Dark, brooding, interested only in the beautiful starship, Destiny, of which he was Second In Command. The one person Kerry seemed to relate to was Jon, the Commander of the ship and Kerry’s closest (and probably only) friend. Cold and withdrawn, for me, Kerry had a charisma which I found completely irresistible. A man like him needed a woman: Someone who was his equal in courage and ability, someone who would teach him to love.

Of course there was a snag. Kerry did not trust women, especially beautiful women. Jess would have her work cut out. Yes, Jess, or Jestine Darnell, to give her full name. Jess who was sweet and vulnerable, with a strong Faith and a mission to fulfill. She arrived, complete with her name and favourite colour - green - tossed back her long wavy red hair and proceeded to tell me her story. I learnt how their mutual distrust gradually turned to love and how she persuaded him to bend a little and believe that love was real and that not everything could be explained by science. The end came as something of a shock. Surely short romantic stories should have a happy ending? Jess then proceeded to tell me that this wasn't a short story - it was a novel! So, I went back to the computer and wrote 'Starquest, Part II'

This is where the method of story telling changed. My narration took the form of a journal, and a new character came on the scene. Dahll Tarron, as different from Kerry as chalk is from cheese, but just as compelling in his own way. He would become my heroine's guide and friend, and provide her with the means of searching the universe for the man she loved. They would face many dangers together and in the process learn much about each other. At the end of Part II there is a parting of the ways and Part three is again told in the third person.

I knew now exactly how the story would finish. I wrote 'The End' with a flourish. Jess, however, had other ideas. "You know," she told me gently, "that's really not the way it happened!" What? How could she say that. Of course that's how it happened. I'd plotted and outlined and this was exactly the way it was meant to be. If I hadn't grown to like her so much I would have been very annoyed, but by this time I was very fond of all my characters - I even had a grudging admiration for the villain, I shrugged and put the manuscript away in a drawer, to 'settle' for a while until I could begin the task of revision. Over the next few weeks my characters nagged me. “Just try it our way, see if it works.” Eventually I had to give in and rewrote some chapters, just to prove them wrong – but of course they were actually right. I showed the manuscript to a friend who’d read the original version and she agreed – this was what really happened!

Unfortunately the way things worked out in the new version, while the 'happy ever after' ending was now in place, I still had two characters without a love interest. So I wrote a sequel. 'Children Of The Mist', set on the planet, Niflheim, where some of the action in 'Starquest' takes place. That sorted things out for one of the characters – the second is still awaiting a Happy Ever After, and nagging at me, so I am in the throes of writing the third and final episode!

And that’s what happens when you become too fond of your characters – but boy it’s so satisfying when they come to life


“It seems,” she said, her voice unsteady, “we’ve both been guilty of trying to hide our true feelings—”

“Then...perhaps we’d better make a fresh start.” He wrapped his arms around her and she clung to him, finally surrendering to the strange, sweet emotion she had tried to deny. He kissed her, a lingering kiss that sent shock waves through her body, awakening the feelings she had tried to conceal for so long. Her lips responded to his with a fierceness that surprised them both.

Several minutes later, with obvious reluctance, he released her, his eyes still not leaving hers.

“I only came to make sure you were all right. I should leave now. I have heard of the strictness of the Sisterhood, I would not wish to risk compromising any sacred vows or beliefs—”

She smiled, touched by his consideration in giving her the chance to back away, while she still could. “I’m a missionary, Kerry, not a nun! The Sisterhood only condemns casual liaisons, not genuine relationships.” She lowered her eyes. “I...I’ve never been in love before, not...not like this, but I know nothing that feels this way could be wrong.”

She slipped into his arms once more. He pressed her body close to his, and kissed her again, with a tenderness she would not have imagined him capable of a short while before, and she wondered how she could ever have thought him cold.

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