Esther Wan: Creating a Character
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Esther Wan is a 29 year old, a female, a librarian, a Realm Walker, and the leading lady in the Legends of Lightning series. Throughout the story she undergoes many hardships and obstacles that challenge who she thinks she is. In the beginning of the book, she discovers her parents aren't even her real parents. But, before she could travel into the Hidden Realm, she needed to be created.
When crafting the character of Esther, I spent a lot of time fussing over her personality. I wanted to avoid making my protagonist perfect; no one and nothing in life is perfect. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or selling you something (often times both). I also wanted to have my protagonist represent a group that is often overlooked in fantasy novels; an introvert.
Many of my friends are introverts and I think modern media does them a disservice. The idea that being an introvert makes you weak and is something that needs to change irks me. My best friend is an introvert, and lord help you if you try to force her to do something she doesn't want to do!
Introverts by nature are NOT spinless or easily bossed around. Nor is introversion something that needs to be cured by going on a quest. I was careful to make Esther shy of crowds or being the center of attention, but I made sure she was still able to stand up for herself when necessary. Furthermore, despite being 'the chosen one' Esther will remain an introvert through the entire series.
Other personality traits I gifted Esther with are stubbornness, impulsiveness, and a touch of anger. Remember, she's not supposed to be prefect!
At more than one point in Hidden Realm, Oisin (he guide) argues with Esther because she isn't careful. She runs headlong into an enchanted forest to save an old man, taking no head for her own safety or the potential of traps. When their keep is threatened, instead of calling for back-up, Esther leaps into a battle with the wolves alone.
She's impulsive and stubborn, but she's also kind and self-less. Whenever she's in a life-threatening situation it's to save someone else. She's wracked with guilt and her nightmares are haunted by those she couldn't save. Meanwhile all Oisin wants is to keep her alive, and she keeps making his life difficult.
When crafting Esther's outward appearance, I struggled a lot. No other character in my novel underwent so many drastic changes to their appearance and ethnicity than she did. For many of my characters I try to avoid over describing their physical appearance, rather describing the general appearance and presence of that individual.
For Esther I wanted something different. I toyed with several different ethnicity and backgrounds for her, including Hispanic and Asian, new immigrant, or fourth-generation American. When I couldn't make up my mind, I settled on describing her as petite with long raven hair.
My best friend read one of the early drafts of Hidden Realm. When she finished the first two chapters, what she said broke my heart.
'She has long black hair and she's adopted. She could be Asian like me.'
From then on it was decided Esther would be Chinese, growing up in a Taiwanese adoptive family. And I modeled much of Esther's appearance on my Best Friend who offered me an invaluable insight into my protagonist.
For much of the first novel, Esther's past and her birth parents remains a mystery. But I plan on investigating this further in the second book!
I hope you enjoyed this inside look into the creation of my leading lady.
You can get a better look into Esther and discover who she is on October 6 when Hidden Realm is released.
and now for a fun teaser!
Author challenge: introduce the novel from your protagonists point of view
My name is Esther Wan, I’m a librarian who lives a comfortable life of boring predictability; at least I used to be...
My nightmares are getting worse, the monsters that hunt me are getting closer. I fear I cannot outrun them any longer nor what this all means. There is a truth hidden below the surface, a truth I do not wish to know. Everything I thought I knew about my life, who I am, and the world I live in, has been shattered.
Against my better judgment, I travel into the unknown, searching for answers. Encountering monsters unlike anything I’ve ever known while I’m forced to fight my own demons. But now I no longer recognize who i am; the terrible things that have happened, the blood I spilled to survive. I mistrust my companions almost as much as I doubt myself.
What have I done?