//beautiful people – tsuki & kiba

This round of questions was so good that I couldn’t decide who to shine the spotlight on. Lauren read the questions and immediately suggested Tsuki and Kiba (The Dying of the Light). A brief introduction aside from their snippet cameos – Tsuki (the Maid Marian character of the novel) is the daughter of a deceased retainer to the Emperor. When the Emperor went away to war, the Prince-Regent gave Tsuki to Matahachi (the Guy of Gisbourne character) as a house-warming gift. Matahachi would probably have preferred she come without Kiba, her bodyguard of twenty years. Tsuki is twenty-six, Kiba is forty, and his affection for her changed to a different kind of affection when she was nineteen. He has never said anything about it and never plans to. He is not only Tsuki’s bodyguard, but her confidant, partner in crime, and closest friend. I kind of adore them.

BUT ENOUGH WITH THE BACKSTORY – ON TO THE QUESTIONS!

TSUKI

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1.How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger? Tsuki has a ready smile, but whether by nature or Kiba’s constant influence, she is very in control of her facial expressions. Her smile is not automatic.

  1. What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction? I imagine the cruelest thing was the combination bringing news of her father’s death on top of her new living situation. It was a powerful one-two that changed her life. Her reaction was stoic; or at least until she was alone with Kiba.
  2. What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction? I’m not sure she could pick the kindest thing ever told her. I would replace this with one of Kiba’s smiles; rare, warm things that portray far more approval and pride than words could. She treasures these, and can recall each instance (as well as count them on one hand).

4.What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting? Tsuki’s strongest memory is of the day her mother taught her how to perform hara-kiri. Having your mother carefully teach you ritual suicide would leave an impact on most children.

5.What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading? Tsuki has benefitted the most from Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War.’ Kiba gave her a necessary reading list when she turned thirteen, and that was at the top.

6.Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react? She was kidnapped at age six by a family who held a grudge against her father. She was not severely injured and came away with nothing more than a sprained wrist and a bruised forehead, but her father promptly hired Kiba. She also learned to ride a motorcycle with much trial and error, once gashing her arm wide open. Fortunately, she is nimble with good reflexes and has avoided intense injury…so far.

7.Do they like and get along with their neighbours? She is a secret champion to the daimyo villagers, but she and Matahachi don’t get along well. He desires Tsuki, but is gentleman enough to leave her alone. She’s very aware of her position and treats it with a very chilly air.

8.On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with? She’s easy to get along with on a surface level. She is polite, friendly, and outgoing; but she rarely lets anyone get to truly know her. So on the surface, she’s possibly an 3; but in reality, she’s more of an 8.

9.If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go? She would time-travel to a free Japan, I don’t doubt. She has a desire to make things better where she is, more than a desire to wander. However, if she were to pick – say, a honeymoon destination, she would choose Bali.

10.Who was the last person they held hands with? She’s not much of a hand-holder. I doubt even she could remember – but since Kiba is the only person she’s with on a regular basis whom she likes, it was probably him.

KIBA

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1.How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger? Honestly his smile is more like a grimace 99% of the time. Rare genuine smiles are reserved for Tsuki. Strangers and allies alike get glares.

  1. What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction? The cruelest thing is yet to come.
  2. What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction? Tsuki once told him he was the most important person in her life, which – whether he realized it or not – set a goal in his life, to continue being that person.

4.What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting? THAT’S FOR HIM TO KNOW AND YOU TO FIND OUT (but not here)

5.What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading? ‘The Book of Five Rings,’ by Musashi. He told Tsuki to read it, but upon reading it she discovered Kiba quoted it often enough that she already knew it.

6.Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react? He has been seriously injured multiple times, but he’s not one to stay down. He reacts with common sense, goes to the hospital, recovers, and gets back to work.

7.Do they like and get along with their neighbours? …No.

8.On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with? Oh, he’s a solid 8 on a good day.

9.If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go? He’d be happy to live in Wales. In a forest. And be a hermit. Except he won’t, because he has responsibilities (coughTsukicough) and she wouldn’t accompany him.

10.Who was the last person they held hands with? Tsuki. They were climbing over a wall. It wasn’t exactly hand-holding in a ‘sweet’ sense, but they aren’t really a ‘sweet’ team.

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//Beautiful People: Valentine’s Edition 2.

HOTTER

(Haka + Otter, The Dying of the Light)

  1. How did they first meet? What were their first impressions of each other? They first met when Lieutenant Takuan put an advertisement in the paper, letting people know the Precinct needed someone ‘good with animals.’ Otter was delighted to discover the ‘animals’ were Mutts, genetically mutated monsters used to track and take down criminals and fugitives. She was the only applicant. Otter immediately pegged Haka as incompetent, ill-mannered, and a human wreck. (She wasn’t wrong.) Haka pegged Otter as intimidating (though she be but little, she is fierce) and certifiably insane.
  2. How long have they been a couple? They aren’t technically a couple (yet. Otter is determined to change that once Haka gets his act together). However, they’ve been working together/awkwardly flirting for two years now.
  3. How committed/loyal are they to each other? Would they break up over a secret or a disagreement? Could stress drive them apart? Would they die for each other? They basically live stress. They pretend not to be loyal, and since they aren’t together (technically) they can’t (technically) be driven apart. I’m fairly sure (as is the rest of the Precinct) that Haka would claw throats out, should something happen to Otter; and Otter would, without hesitation, sic every last Mutt on anyone who attempted to seriously harm Haka.
  4. List “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!) Haka takes his coffee with copious amounts of cream and sugar, while Otter takes hers black. She also attempts to make Haka drink black coffee because it’s healthier. Because Haka is usually high on ‘stardust,’ it warps his sense of taste; hence he has a massive sweet tooth.
  5. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship? Not really. Pretty much everyone acknowledges that Otter is good for Haka and he would probably be dead without her, passed out in a trash can somewhere.
  6. What would be an ideal date? For Haka, any date without animals. For Otter, probably a roller-skating rink.
  7. What are their personality dynamics? Similar? Contrasting? Do they fight a lot or mesh perfectly? Oh, they fight a lot. Haka is very unimpressive at first glance (also the second and third glances) – lanky, wrecked, gracefully falls over every piece of furniture in sight, demanding, irritable. Otter is fierce, kindhearted, outspoken, and doesn’t really know what rules are (unless she’s the one who made them). They contrast, but they contrast in a way that highlights the best in each of them.
  8. What have been their best and worst moments together as a couple? Well, as an employee/underling, they’ve had many successful moments. As for their best and worst moments, their interactions mostly consist evenly of both.
  9. Where do they see themselves and their relationship in the next few years? Otter sees herself claiming Haka in the near-ish future. Haka sees himself claimed. (He already is, but he’s not totally aware.) This is, of course, on the back burner as far as they’re concerned – they have more important things to worry about in the meantime, like doing their jobs so they aren’t beheaded by the Prince-Regent.

 

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A portrait of the trash king himself, by the amazing CielaRose.

//Beautiful People: Valentine’s Edition 1.

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ARADHEL SMITH AND VADIK CHAUSSER

  1. How did they first meet? They first met when Aradhel and her accipiter, Brynhedda, seek him out hoping to gain passage on his ship.
  2. What were their first impressions of each other? Aradhel said something not at all diplomatic, Chausser tossed his drink in her face on principle, Brynhedda tackled him, he tackled Brynhedda, and Sterling and Mat (Chausser’s first and second mates) had to break it up. So, fairly well.
  3. How long have they been a couple? They’re going to be one of those fun duos that’s hard to describe as a ‘couple’ most of the time. It’s not as if they ask the other person to go steady. It’s not as if a ring is exchanged. I think their relationship can be summed up well with a piece of Spike’s dialogue from Buffy the Vampire Slayer —

“You’re not friends. You’ll never be friends. You’ll be in love till it kills you both. You’ll fight and you’ll shag and you’ll hate each other till it makes you quiver, but you’ll never be friends.”

  1. How committed/loyal are they to each other? Would they break up over a secret or a disagreement? Could stress drive them apart? Would they die for each other? Aradhel is very loyal and Chausser is very committed, but they’re both in very different circles and circumstances. Half the time they’re at each other’s side, the other half they’re facing off depending on the political climate. They would kill for each other, but whether they would die for each other— that remains to be seen.
  2. List 5 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!) Aradhel presses a finger against her chin when she’s heavily considering a matter. (Aside from this, I’m still figuring out their quirks.)
  3. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship? Chausser’s first mate, Djaq Sterling, sees it as risky. Chausser’s second mate and platonic BFF, Mathilde (Mat) approves of it for Chausser’s sake but also sees the possible danger it could throw her captain’s way.
  4. What would be an ideal date? An ideal date in their particular situation would be a day of smooth sailing without worrying about corsairs, assassins, void sirens, or storms. That would be a perfect date. In another situation, Chausser really isn’t ‘date’ material and Adhara has more important things to think about.
  5. What are their personality dynamics? Similar? Contrasting? Do they fight a lot or mesh perfectly? Adhara is clever but very new to the world of politics and intrigue, so she’s learning to speak with a gilded tongue and behave in ways befitting the heir of the Thirteenth House. Chausser is a generally straightforward man both brutal and fair, and even when their personalities clash, they usually understand one another. They’re similar in a few ways – they will do anything to protect those they care about, they have great responsibilities – and I would say they do fight a lot while meshing perfectly.
  6. What have been their best and worst moments together as a couple? I look forward to answering this question within the actual novel because as of yet, I have no idea. But I know there are many of both.
  7. Where do they see themselves and their relationship in the next few years? Chausser sees himself…somewhere important (and spoilery) and Adhara sees herself as the head of House Ophiucus. How this will work out in actuality…is not terribly promising, and they both know it. They stick to their main goals despite their feelings, and what said goals might mean for them.

 

 

You may have noticed my insinuation that this questionnaire is the first of several, and it is. Because you people are no help, and I got more answers involving two or three couples (or ‘do them all!’) than I anticipated. So yes, I’ll be answering this series of questions for several more couples thanks to all you Enormously Unhelpful people whom I love.

//beautiful people, or, help me out here

I’m very behind on the Beautiful People meme, and the as the last set of questions was centered around Valentine’s Day, the questions are two people instead of one. I have several (okay. More than several) couples, and making decisions is hard, so I put forth to you good readers to help me choose. Some of these couples aren’t romantic (BROTPS FTW), some of them are one-sided, some of them are head-over-heels. Most of them have their relationship status on Facebook as ‘it’s complicated.’

Which couple should answer the Beautiful People: Valentine’s Day questions?

  • Tsuki and Kiba from The Dying of the Light (bodyguardee/bodyguard/unrequited love)
  • Honey and Kai from The Dying of the Light (mechanic/cyborg-project/bestie)
  • Rooney and Azrael from Paper Hearts (IT’S TRUE LOVE)
  • Adhara and Chausser from The Space Book (admittedly, I’m still plotting The Space Book, but Beautiful People helps me figure things out. Therefore, I have options.) (Also, very complicated. Adhara is the earth-raised heir to the throne of House Ophiucus and Chausser is a space-elf-pirate-captain)
  • Adhara and Brynhedda from The Space Book (heir/bestie/parabatai /girl BROTP)
  • Saizou and Shi from The Dying of the Light (BROTP to the max)
  • Otter and Haka from The Dying of the Light (tiny beast-tamer girl/trash king)

Leave your choice(s) in the comments!

//Beautiful People #14

Sky and Cait (AND CAIT! AND CAIT! Cait, see, I didn’t forget you this time) are back with another round of questions, these ones pertaining to writing goals and achievements. December was a slow month where writing was concerned; it took a backseat to other issues, plus I was busy with art commissions. But it’s a new year, and a new year is full of new hope and new goals to accomplish. Here’s to 2016, and the improvement of all things.

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my creative womb
  1. What were your writing achievements last year? Last year, I finished Dark is the Night (vampires, werewolves, and South Carolina) and began editing said novel. I also began the sequel. I began and finished my high fantasy novel Kenna. I wrote This Curious Madness (Alice in Wonderland retelling) in a month. I got a publisher for Paper Crowns (fairy tale) and I began Acceso from scrap again. I started The Color of Truth (Meiji-era Japanese historical fantasy) and completed NaNoWriMo, although I’m still working on my novel, The Dying of the Light. I also came up with about a dozen new novel ideas that are waiting for me to get to them.
  2. Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year? That’s going to be seeing Paper Crowns through publishing. I’m still wrangling it into publishing-readiness, but I hope to have it ready to go by the end of January.
  3. List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year: I need to stop procrastinating thanks to perfectionism – instead of thinking about doing, I need to actually do the things I think about. I’d like to develop consistent writing habits that don’t include staying up until 2 a.m. and then barely seeing the morning. As always I want my writing to deepen and improve, particularly in the areas of description and plot flow – I tend to write very ‘episodic’ novels, and while this isn’t always a bad thing (it worked really well for Dark is the Night) it doesn’t work for every novel. That wasn’t five, but oh well.
  4. Are you participating in any writing challenges? No. The only writing challenges I really participate in are word-wars with friends and Ju/NaNoWriMo. I like to write at my own pace – I don’t like the ‘who wrote it better’ competition many writing challenges become.
  5. What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year? I have no plans to expand unless someone specifically asks to read something. I have an amazing group of beta-readers, as well as a few alpha-readers who give me commentaries and help me edit as I go along. (Shoutout to my alpha-readers Arielle, Lauren, and Tanzy!)
  6. Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research? I’m reading several books for research right now – The Emergence of Meiji Japan and Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration (both by Marius Jansen), The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, and various novels.
  7. Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this? I can’t pick one character. I have too many. My novels are notorious for having large and varied casts, and I tend to love all of them (excepting whichever disgusting villain/villainess happens to be there). I will say that I need to get further acquainted with the new cast of Natural Disasters (Chinese elementals/alternate history/fantasy) and Nihilum (psychopaths, organ donors, crime syndicates, and secret programs).
  8. Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack? I’ll query out Dark is the Night once I finish editing it, but that comes after Paper Crowns.
  9. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world? Too many to name. I want to see more character development, more platonic relationships, more well-rounded love stories entwined in vast and far-reaching science fiction and fantasy. I want to see the quality of stories in general go up and I want to see clichés turned upside-down. Also, I would be very okay with a novelization of Fullmetal Alchemist.
  10. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016? I want to see The Dying of the Light and The Color of Truth as completed first drafts. I’d like to see Natural Disasters begun, and possibly The Bleeding Moon (Korean history/fantasy novel) begun as well. I want to see Paper Crowns published and have another publishing contract with another novel. I want to see my writing better than it is now. Other than that, who knows?