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Humanising the enemy

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Of all the books in the Bremmand Chronicles – including the ones still to be published – Balance of Betrayal is the one with the most unexpected characters.
I don’t mean that they are strange or behave in peculiar ways (although maybe some of them do!). They are unexpected because, when I started planning the book, I never realised they would take on the importance that they did. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be exploring a few of these characters and, at the same time, shed light on character development from an author’s perspective.

General Turron is an interesting fellow. To all intents and purposes, I wrote him backwards. He, like the Earl of Olery, had first featured in Bremmand Lives, eponymous hero of one of the stories and intended to give my readers a different perspective of the ‘evil Empire.’ Up to then, the only point of view had been than of the invaded people of Bremmand. So, of course the Empire was evil and unreasonable and a thing to be despised. What I wanted to avoid, however, was for my ‘bad guys’ to be one-dimensional. The Empire is big, powerful and very efficient – and in the case of its occupation of Bremmand, led by an intensely ambitious, manipulative and erratic Governor. It was starting to get too easy for the reader to sympathise with my resistance group. So, Turron’s story was intended to humanise them. To paint the picture of real people who are reasonable and doing the right thing – from their perspective.

As that story evolved, it ended up being the last days in Turron’s life as an Empire General, so he was written out of the Bremmand timeline as swiftly as he’d been written in. Only, as Balance of Betrayal was developed I realised he would have been the General in command at the time of that story. That meant I was going to need to get to know him a lot better in order to bring him to life in a full novel.

In this context, Turron was used once again as a voice of reason. He is steadfast and steady and skilled at managing the intense politics played in the upper echelons of the Empire. He does his duty, makes sure that things don’t get too out of hand and does all in his power to ensure the Empire is protected when one noble or another starts manipulating matters. He’s human – very much so in that, despite his need to smooth the waters, he is just as prone as the best of us to losing his temper and becoming unreasonable.

I have to say, his placement in Balance of Betrayal is something I’m particularly proud of. With an established role as calm in the chaos, his falling out with Staval is pivotal to the book. Had Turron liked our protagonist, when the situation looked bad for him, he would have done more to support and assist. Instead, he was only to happy to see him falsely suspected. Everything hinges on Turron and, if I’ve done my job well, you barely notice it. What else can you wish for a character written backwards?

Cate Caruth is the author of the Bremmand Chronicles. To buy her books or learn more about them, go to www.bremmandchronicles.co.uk

You can follow Cate on Twitter at www.twitter.com/catec23

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