How To Write Lovable Protagonists — Guest Post by Schuyler McConkey

I have a special treat for you today, Wrenlings! My dear friend Schuyler has ever so sweetly agreed to guest post here on Curious Wren, and I am doing cartwheels of joy about it (but not actually because I would probably crack my skull and then I could no LONGER READ OH HORRIBLE THOUGHT).

Schuyler has some of the best main characters I’ve encountered amongst my various splendiferous Human Writer Friends/Acquaintances, which I am slightly (fiercely?) envious of in a Oh-Genius-Why-Do-I-Have-It-Not sort of way. Honestly, Roo is such a sweetheart I want her for a real-life buddy, and JAERYN. *momentary mad fangirling*

BUT. As you shall see she has a method to her madness. So, find a comfy toadstool to sit on and make sure to take notes! Cheerio, darlings.

Schuyler? You’re up.


Protagonists are pretty important. Where would we be in the world of literature without colorful main characters like Frodo Baggins, Lizzy Bennet, and Ebenezer Scrooge?

Writing a loveable protagonist is fairly easy with your first book. You know them inside out, and generally for a longer time, then any other character you’ll write. You put all your hopes, dreams, and favorite things about literature into them. But writing subsequent characters can get tricky. If you’re published, you have to write them a little faster (ten years isn’t an ideal timeline after book one), and you have less time on the front end to get to know them. Some people have the knack of creating vivid, lovable characters (personally the characters are my favorite part of the process) while others struggle to connect with their characters, and feel like they come across stiff and unreal on the page. Whichever camp you fall in, I hope this exercise will help you learn how to create loveable protagonists, by drawing from protagonists in literature you already love.

Step #1: Make a List of Protagonists From Other Authors.

Take out a piece of paper or open up a Word document and think for a moment about your favorite protagonists in literature. Who are they? Write them down. Now think of the favorite protagonists you’ve written. Write a couple down. You won’t need a long list, but a fair handful from a variety of genres will really help in the following exercise.

From literature, I chose a handful of my favorite protagonists. I passionately love these people, and have read the books they’re in multiple times. I would write fanfiction about them. I would have them over for a party in two seconds flat. It would be incredibly, deeply special to actually get to meet them. (I know, they’re fictional. But STILL.) I chose Cadfael (The Pilgrim of Hate), Linda Strong (Her Father’s Daughter), Jane Stuart (Jane of Lantern Hill), Erroll Stone (A Cast of Stones), and Wilberforce (Amazing Grace). This group comes from a variety of ages, life conditions, countries, and genres.

Step #2 Evaluate What You Love About Them.

Now take your list and jot down what you especially love about these characters. It could be what they do, a profession they hold, a physical quirk they have, a relationship they have, or a personality streak. Here’s my list:

Cadfael: What I Love

Justice, independence, humanity, the way he mentors young people, sarcasm, friendship with Hugh, matter-of-fact perspective that’s open to the miraculous.

Linda Strong: What I Love

Sensible, loves to write, pursuing her dreams in spite of difficult relationships, loves her dad, great with guy friends.

Jane Stuart: What I Love

Loves her dad, loves keeping house, strong sense of imagination, stays true to who she is in harsh atmosphere, strong protective/caring instinct, loves life’s little pleasures.

Erroll Stone: What I Love

Acknowledges personal weaknesses without self-pity, sense of irony, fights hard to overcome flaws, struggles with people using him as a pawn.

Wilberforce: What I Love

Cares for poor and oppressed, does meaningful society work within his Christian worldview, works for years being defeated without giving up, great spiritual strength in spite of physical weakness, relies on friendships for ideas and strength.

Step #3 Pick Out Recurring Things You Love

See how some similar ideas travel through all those characters I like? Look at your list and see if you’re finding some recurring themes. Here are some of mine:

-big hardships to overcome (mostly relational)

-have to work hard to rise above, often sacrificing the deepest part of who they are

-colorful and close friendships with others in the book

-sense of sarcasm/humor

-sense of care and compassion for the oppressed

-dreamers who love the beautiful, everyday gifts and cling to the hope of better things

Your list might look a little different. That’s as it should be—we need a wide variety of protagonists and personalities in literature! But what you love best will become your brand of protagonist. The themes that resonate with you as you read should be the themes that carry through into your own protagonists.

If I talk about a Dickens protagonist, or a G.A. Henty hero, or a Gene Stratton Porter heroine, there are many to choose from, but all of them have the stamp of the original author. They often love the causes and act in the way their author could resonate with most deeply. Your protagonists will be the same. They’ll have different careers, time periods, ages, and relational status in each book—but at their core, they will be who you love most. Making a likeable protagonist doesn’t merely mean throwing together different personality traits and life circumstances from your last story. It means carefully weaving in what you love and along with those things.

Step #4 Evaluate The Protagonists You’ve Written

Now that we’ve looked at protagonists in literature, take a look at your stories, and choose a couple of protagonists you’ve written or want to write that you especially love. For the sake of this article, I’m going to choose Jaeryn Graham, a colorful Irish agent in my WW1 spy novel, and Roo, a sweet ballet teacher who lives in modern day New York. Very different people, right? Let’s see how they compare to my favorite protagonists in literature:

Jaeryn Graham has a fierce desire to be treated justly, and will risk anything to achieve the object he wants without worrying about the consequences. The justice theme in Jaeryn’s arc also appears in all the characters in the above list in different ways, and is one near and dear to my heart. He’s also kind to the oppressed, though sometimes he chooses to oppress them himself to achieve a necessary object. Realizing the importance of close friendships is a huge part of his story as well.

Roo couldn’t be more opposite. She cares deeply, is sweet, loves nothing more than taking deep joy in daily life with friends, and doesn’t need grand things to feel fulfilled. But like Jaeryn, she cares for the hurting, even though she’s unlike him every other way. Roo’s spiritual strength comes from stories I love like Wilberforce, she’s great with guy friends like Linda Strong, and she loves life’s little pleasures like Jane Stuart. Friendships are a very key theme for Roo. I didn’t consciously copy any of those things from the above characters. But because they resonate in what I read, they also resonate in what I write.

I’m about to write my favorite protagonist ever, and already some clear and classic Schuyler themes are emerging. A sense of passion for relieving oppression. An irreverent sense of humor. Some really cool friendships. Those are my core values. They make the writing process fun for me, and what I love can in turn be what someone else loves too.

Do you like your protagonists? Do they carry some of the themes you already like in books you’ve read? If you don’t like your protagonists, or feel they’re lacking something, is it because you haven’t given them the relationships and personality traits you love most?

One Extra Step to Bring Them to the Next Level

Once you have core themes for your protagonists worked out, there’s one more thing you can do that takes your character from good to great. That is simply to know them like a real person. I refer to characters as my fictional friends very intentionally. I have shared sorrow with them, shared work and laughter, shared the deepest parts of their soul. To maintain that same level in each story, as soon as I start a new story, that new protagonist is automatically moved into personal friend. I take them shopping with me and notice the foods and flavors they would like. I pick out their favorite restaurants as we’re driving, make them playlists on Spotify, take them to the concert or watch a movie and register their likes and dislikes. I imagine them in a very vivid way—allowing them to be deeply passionate about big and small life things that might get in the story and might not. The point is not to go story scouting all the time; the point is simply to get to know them on such a deep level that no matter what time period or profession they are actually in, I know exactly what they like. My sister often whispers to me at social functions, “What would so-and-so be doing right now?” And she and I can both tell what they’d be doing, because they have been our friends for so long.

In summary, the important parts of a lovable protagonist are real personality, real life, and real relationships. Those are most easy to write and most colorful on the page when you determine the relationships and personalities of already published protagonists that bring you alive. Put those resonating aspects into your own work, wherever each story takes you—and you’ll be giving the protagonists a piece of your own real, living heart to turn them from flat to 3D.

Schuyler McConkey is a novelist and Bright Lights ministry leader living with her parents and two siblings. She authors a blog, My Lady Bibliophile, where she writes book reviews and articles evaluating classic literature. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to Irish love songs, learning Gaelic, and reading too many Dickens novels.

Chats with Suzannah Rowntree // author interview and giveaway

Authorly Interviews! Aren’t they delightful? 

Suzannah Rowntree is a skilled writer and lovely woman, and I’ve been hoping to host her on Curious Wren for awhile now. Her most recent novel, Pendragon’s Heir, is an absolute favorite of mine, and so in addition to the interview we have a special treat for you all, my precious gingersnaps! 

Which is, A GIVEAWAY. Woot! Majorly excited over here. It’s opened internationally with a winner from Australia or the US receiving a tangible copy. If the winner is from any other country, they’ll receive a Kindle edition. Right ho?
On to the interview!


Hello, Suzannah! I’m delighted to be interviewing you here on Curious Wren! To start off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? Hobbies? Tea or coffee? Favorite cozy reads? Ideal writing day? Elves or Knights of the Round Table?

Hello, Annie! It’s such a pleasure to be here!

I don’t hobby much because WRITING IS THE AIR I BREATHE, but occasionally I tear myself away to do something else. I play the French Horn. I knit. I sew. I design covers for my books and fliers or invitations for friends and family. In the past I’ve also done fencing and swing dancing. I love making beautiful things.

Definitely tea: chai, oolong, rooibos or Russian caravan for preference. Mary Stewart is my guilty-pleasure cozy read, but I also love Wodehouse, Trollope, and the odd sentimental vintage romance like Florence L Barclay or Grace S Richmond. Ideal writing day is a quiet house and a long-awaited melodramatic scene. I’m going to pick the Knights, but that’s probably only because they’re my babies and I haven’t read Tolkien for a few years (the Epic LOTR re-read is scheduled for LATER THIS YEAR OH MY OH MYYYYYY).

When did you realize your love for Story? Who or what prompted you to pursue writing seriously?

I began writing my first story as a birthday present for my best friend when I was 12, and when it was done I looked at it, found it unsatisfactory, and began to write it again. I’ve never been able to shake the habit since; but I think the decisive moment came when I finally finished the third draft. I told myself, “That was exhausting, I’m never doing that again” – but ten minutes later I had opened a new Word document and was already typing. That was when I realised I had a serious problem!

My elder brother had already realised several years previously. “You should publish this!” he said after discovering and reading my battered exercise book first draft. I laughed him to scorn. Thankfully, he didn’t take no for an answer. (Although, no, that first story will never see the light).

What was the inspiration behind Pendragon’s Heir? Can you share with us a bit about your journey with this particular tale?

Pendragon’s Heir came to me about eleven years ago. I read Josephine Tey’s wonderful book The Daughter of Time and was suddenly seized with the desire to rehabilitate some other much-maligned character. The tragic love of Guinevere and Lancelot in the King Arthur legends had always frustrated me, and so I wrote the first draft of what would later become Pendragon’s Heir in just six days with the aim of doing for the character of Guinevere what Tey had done for Richard III. Over the following ten years, I worked on second and third drafts intermittently until just three years ago I came to the realisation that I was a good enough writer to finish and publish it. So I went all the way back to the beginning, started again, and you have read the final result.

The thing I learned writing and rewriting the same story almost exclusively for ten years was that stories, like fruitcake, get richer and richer with time. While good characterisation and plotting can help shorten the time you spend working on a story, it’s still a shame to rush a story. You have to let it marinate. You have to spend months or years thinking about it. Lasting art generally isn’t made in five odd minutes of the day.

Are you currently working on a book that you can share about spoiler-free? What genre(s) do you prefer? And do you have a favorite “mode” of writing, e.g. first person, past tense?

For the last twelve months or so since publishing Pendragon’s Heir I’ve been working almost fulltime on another novel, this one a sprawling epic based around the 200-year history of the Crusader States. It’s working–titled Outremer, and it looks at the Crusades from the perspective of the indigenous Syrian Christians and the native-born Frankish nobility. I grew up on western-centric tales like Ivanhoe and Winning His Spurs where everyone was always coming home from the Crusades, but in this story, home means right there in the East. That’s a perspective that has almost never been told, and it’s the one that fired up my imagination.


Genre is a question that evaded me for years, since I love all sorts of genres and have tried everything from thrillers to space operas. OUTREMER was going to be straight historical fiction until I realised that a few fantasy elements would help me emphasise the themes that I wanted to bring out most. That was the moment I realised that I write historical fantasy.

Most of my stories are written in limited third-person, past tense, sometimes spanning several points of view, since I find it the most natural way to write the stories I want to tell. But I have this fairytale novella series where I get to mess around in a whoooole lot of different genres, and the one I’m working on now is in first-person.

Tell us a bit about your current favorite movies/TV shows/books. Why are they favorites?

The Lord of the Rings is my favourite book–or was the first eight times I read it, ten years ago. It is a work of unusual and incredible beauty, with titanic emotional power and sensitivity. Unlike most secondary-world fantasy, its worldbuilding is meticulous and entirely convincing–in fact, if you want the gold standard of speculative-fiction worldbuilding, this is it. It also draws heavily upon Tolkien’s firm Christian faith. It is the book equivalent of a medieval cathedral: immense, detailed, and absolutely gut-wrenchingly beautiful. Otherwise I have about a squillion other favourite books, but notable authors include Lewis, Buchan, Chesterton, Wodehouse, Spenser, Shakespeare, Austen, and Trollope.

Film seems to me a much lesser medium, and my favourites tend to come and go. I enjoy almost everything Christopher Nolan has ever done, especially the mental challenge and sheer actiony fun of Inception. Another favourite film is The Empire Strikes Back. I can take or leave pretty much all the other Star Wars movies, but this one is a masterpiece of brooding and ominous power culminating in a truly anguished ending. Who doesn’t love it when characters suffer?

If you could have luncheon with several authors of your choice (dead or alive), who would you choose?

GK Chesterton, because he’d be a hilarious conversationalist, and Jane Austen, because she’d be so incredibly down-to-earth. And Tolkien, so I could get his autograph.

What books have made you cry? If none, are there any that almost brought the tears to your eyes?

Pardon the fangirling, but The Lord of the Rings almost never fails to tear me up. I don’t usually cry in a book, but years ago Paul Gallico’s Jennie reduced me to a quivering, blubbering mess, and not in a good way.

What are four books you think everyone should read? Why?

Well, obviously, The Lord of the Rings, because you need to experience the splendour and nobility of great Christian art. Douglas Wilson and Douglas Jones’s Angels in the Architecture, so you can begin to appreciate the medieval vision that inspired it. Paradise Restored by David Chilton because the things I learned in that book still wake me up every morning with a smile on my face. Um, and Francis Nigel Lee’s Central Significance of Culture, because it presents a staggering vision for Christian art.

You will notice that three of these are non-fiction books that help set a tremendous cultural vision. This is not because I think fiction is unimportant. After all, I’ve dedicated my life to it. But after reading these books you ought to be able both to get more out of both the art you consume and to put more into the art you make.

What kinds of stories and characters delight you the most?

I love characters that are flawed in their goodness, or sympathetic in their villainy; the former because they can inspire you to overcome those sins, and the latter because they can cause you to see the villainy in your own heart. I love the quality of nobility that comes with the patient endurance of great suffering. And I cannot do without hope for the future. If a book has all these things, I’m sure to like it.

Share with us a few beautiful words/quotes that give you a happy, glowy feeling.

In no particular order:

The pallid cuckoo

Sent up in frail


His tiny scale


On the cold air.

What joy I found

Mounting that tiny

Stair of sound.

– James McAuley, “Late Winter”


Salvation changes not, nor yet destroys

garden nor gardener, children nor their toys.


In Paradise they look no more awry;

and though they make anew, they make no lie.

Be sure they still will make, not being dead,

and poets shall have flames upon their head,

and harps whereon their faultless fingers fall:

there each shall choose forever from the All.

– JRR Tolkien, “Mythopoeia”

Remember that all worlds draw to an end, and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy.

– CS Lewis, “The Last Battle”

How does your Christian faith affect your purpose as a writer?

In so many ways that I do not know how I would be a writer without it. I make art to glorify God and tell anew His mighty works in history and salvation (Psalm 145:10-12). I make art reverently, begging the Holy Spirit for inspiration (Exodus 32:2-3) and submitting it to the counsel of those older and wiser than myself (Proverbs 15:22). I make art because I believe God gave us the raw materials in creation and that both the dominion mandate and the Great Commission means using those raw materials to construct a glorious Christian culture that will one day cover the earth (Daniel 2:44). I make art seriously, with every fibre of my being awake and straining for perfection, because I believe that the work of my hands will pass through a testing (1 Corinthians 3:11-15), and will, if found worthy, be brought into the New Jerusalem with the glory and honour of the nations (Revelation 21:24).

What would you say characterizes your writing style?

Stylistically, I like adapting myself to the needs of the story. Imitation comes naturally to me, and I use it to give the setting a more authentic flavour: so that in Pendragon’s Heir I mimicked the rhythm and diction of Thomas Malory, and in The Bells of Paradise that of Shakespeare. I have an unhealthy dependence upon semicolons, and a sly love of alliteration. I delight in distilling striking images into striking words. And I’m grateful to have learned the importance of being painfully sharp and specific with my words, which is the only way to paint a very vivid and unfamiliar setting, so clearly you can almost see and smell it.


If you could have a good, long face-to-face talk with one of your characters, whom would you choose and why?

LOL, none of them! Why would I do that? I have enough trouble coming up with things for them to say to each other. XP

Do you have any unique writer quirks or strange habits?

Perhaps the most scandalous thing I can say is that I don’t! I am a very boring kind of writer. I don’t struggle with writer’s block, I don’t look at Pinterest for inspiration, I don’t find that my characters have a will of their own, and I don’t listen to music while I write. Maybe that’s because I’m also a musician, but I find it too distracting, and it uses up parts of my mind I need for hearing the rhythms and cadences of my words.

Sometimes I compose poetry in the shower?

As a writer, in those moments of discouragement when you feel like your writing deserves to be burned (and the ashes buried six feet under), how do you keep going forward?

Ohhh yep. I do feel this way from time to time. Usually, I remember that Pendragon’s Heir turned out OK, and that gives me a lot of confidence. I have to admit that sometimes I read someone else’s turkey and come away with the serene assurance that I can do way better. Most powerful of all, I go back to what inspired me to write the story, and get excited all over again by the wonderful potential it has to be great–if I’ll only keep going through the hard bits.

Few of us who’ve read Pendragon’s Heir have been able to resist the charm of the knight Perceval, and I know he’s special to you also. Might we be gifted a glimpse into your thought process and method–as it were–for coaxing his character into what you wanted it to be?

Haha! Good old Perceval. I’m actually really pleased everyone loves him as much as I do. The most important thing to say about him is that I based him off the original knight from the legends, who is already a terrific character–I think of him as the unsocialised homeschooler par excellence: someone with very few inhibitions and an utterly unashamed zest for life.

At the same time, I knew he was the love interest and I didn’t want to produce a character that had been voodoo-dolled all out of resemblance to actual real men, so while writing him I always tried to ask myself how my brothers would act in his circumstances. As I went on, I mixed in some other aspects of other young men I knew in real life: which actually gave me the courage to make him as chivalrous and romantic as he is (as well as the sense to make him arrogant and overconfident).

What have been a few of your most special moments and experiences as a published writer, and as a writer in general? I’d love to hear about them!

By far the thing I love the most is getting to spend all day, every day, doing a job I love better than anything else in the world. My writing doesn’t bring in much more than pocket money at the moment, true, so my parents supply my day-to-day needs. As a “stay-at-home” (ha!) daughter, I’m so very, very blessed to have like-minded parents who have as much of a vision for my writing as I do. In fact, my parents deserve so much of the credit for everything I have done: I owe them my education, my vision for Christian culture, and the time and tools I need to produce all these stories.

Other neat things. Getting to send a copy of Pendragon’s Heir to CS Lewis’s stepson Douglas Gresham. Being told by a well-known Inklings scholar that I had written “a masterpiece.” And reading people’s reviews of my book, with a singing heart because I am finally getting to share my stories with other people–and they are coming away refreshed, encouraged, and moved.

Why don’t we end with a fun question? What fictional worlds do you most wish to visit and why?

Hee, that is a fun question. Narnia, Perelandra, and Middle Earth are absolutely the top of my list. Narnia because I would have so much fun dancing with the dryads at the feasts or swashbuckling around in chainmail armour. And Perelandra because it sounds absolutely heavenly – an unfallen planet? Fruits that give you an transcendant experience of innocent pleasure? Yes please! And Middle Earth, because it would be wonderful to explore the Elvish cities.

(Aww, wasn’t that delightful, y’all? Suzannah is such a sweetheart and I will never recover from the gloriousness that is her books. *happy sigh* Don’t forget to enter the giveaway, humans! This is a book you don’t want to miss, I promise. ^_^)

giveaway 3



When Suzannah Rowntree isn’t travelling the world to help out friends in need, she lives in a big house in rural Australia with her awesome parents and siblings, trying to beat her previous number-of-books-read-in-a-year record. She blogs the results at Vintage Novels and is the author of fiction and non-fiction including Pendragon’s Heir, a retelling of Arthurian legend, and the Fairy Tales Retold novella series.


of stardust and sea-spray 


currently: roadtripping//headed to a special cottage/cabin for our family holiday//alllll of us siblings are going, plus the nieces and nephew//hence i am ALL THE EXCITEMENT WHAT HO.

thinking: about this article… i am ninety percent sure that one of my books fits in the psycho-horror thriller genre. it helps me develop and explore the particular redemptive theme better, methinks//allegories are a wonderful thing//i will never tire of people-watching//someday i’ll learn violin and play it on a mountaintop//life is hard, life is rough, but when i choose to revel in the little things, when i remember how much i am Loved, life is gloriously good//people really are just the same the world over–same hopes, same fears, same dreams, same pitfalls, same need for Jesus//one of these days i want to write a novel that puts vampires back in their proper place of horrific, non-glamorized beings (think Dracula). they’re more to be pitied and avoided, than swooned over//the workings of a human’s mind will never cease to fascinate me… we are so complex and yet we are nothing compared to the vastness and simultaneous simplicity of our Creator//the “duty of care” is heartbreaking//if i could choose a superpower i would love something fast, like flying//nutella is LIFE.

listening to: many songs that are road trip perfection, but at the moment this makes my heart glad. plus a goodish amount of murray gold, hans zimmer and various lyrical musicaks//nothing like singing along at the top of your lungs to Mary Poppins songs. ^_^

reading: Third Girl by agatha christie is on my lap//there’s a wodehouse book on the car dash//and a plethora of novels for this week in our book bag//in case you’re curious, here is the list:

A Tangled Web (montgomery). Inkheart. Dracula. Halo: Fall of Reach (eric nylund). Isle of Swords. Several wodehouse and agatha christie. Jackaby.

feeling: torn between elated, content, and please-just-let-me-sleep-before-i-lose-what-little-sanity-remains.

loving: triple chocolate chip cookies//my littlest niece’s squeals of delight//when the Older Sister communicates via walkie-talkie with our brother in his car ahead from us (“Honey Pot to Rubber Duck, do you read me?”)//birch trees like so many maiden dryads//the words stardust and sea-spray//owl charms on key-chains//

thankful for: being alive//a family that’s my support group + besties + confidantes + all-around epic humans//my hands–just sliced my thumb yesterday so, goodness, i am grateful that i usually have full use of my fingers//air-conditioner//unexpected intrusions of beauty//the warm, safe knowledge that my Saviour is always with me… no matter how far from home i am//spring-time.

Beautiful People — Dead Shot and Laser // sneak peek at Mingled + UPDATES WHAT HO

I am a worm of low degree. OF LOW DEGREE.

In other words, I can’t believe how shamefully I have neglected you all lately! I feel like I need to reacquaint myself with Curious Wren, dust off the cobwebs, fling open the windows and let the fresh air in…

In my defense, the Older Sister and I are road-tripping right now which, by the by, has been a magical and rewarding experience. Made new friends (I fully intend to visit Germany someday now), bought lots of books, wandered idyllic side-streets, cried over the beauty of sprawling, green landscapes… the list goes on. Yay for road-trips. I can feel my soul stretching and deepening every time I go on one.


I feel like I need to reacquaint myself with all you dear, wonderful people too so please, pretty please, tell me how life has been! What are you reading/writing/learning? How has your May been thus far and what are the happenings? I wish to know all, lovelies. And have a chocolate chip cupcake whilst you’re at it. ^_^

And now, Beautiful People. Also hosted by Sky.

I was toying around with the idea of several different stories this time–the questions are just. that. good–and I finally decided to use two characters from my science fiction, steampunk series Mingled. This is the first time I’ve mentioned it on the blog, but it’s basically like the Avengers meets Star Wars and it’s quite deliciously steampunkish and futuristic. The idea is that a special team called Mingled is formed by the leading governments of three planets (including Earth) and they end up like this adorable gang of feels and angst and much mission accomplishing.

The charries are as follows:

— Captain Lukas Keyes. Ship captain and leader of Mingled. 28. Male.

— Lechra Keyes. Historian/Translator. Lukas’ younger sister. 24. Female.

— Archangel “Angel.” Gunslinger-esque agent. 32. The Keyes siblings best buddy for his whole life. Male.

— “Dead Shot.” Infamous assassin. Crack shot, hence his “title” given to him by a past client. Uncertain age. Male.

— Sii Sari. Top bounty hunter. 26. Female.

— Laser. Tech geek. Near genius. 20. Male.

(I’ll be highlighting Dead Shot and Laser since they are polar opposites.)

Dead Shot

1. How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?

Once upon a time Dead Shot hardly ever smiled, and when he did it was more of an ironical smirk, but now that he’s part of the “gang”–what with ridiculous antics, constant humor, and slowly-growing friendships– he has ample cause for unexpected smiles. Which, of course, remain unseen because he never takes his face mask off. 

He does not smile at strangers.

2. What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

One word: “No.”

He became an assassin.

3. What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

For Dead Shot actions speak louder than words every time. Lechra once brought him a mug of tea when he was in a rough spot emotionally and mentally (which she didn’t know at the time). He was so touched he couldn’t even bring himself to drink it. Lechra found the mug later, still full to the brim with ice-cold tea. She thought he disliked it. 

4. What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

This ties in with #2, but essentially that memory is the whole reason he chose to become an assassin–and not only an assassin, but the best one to be had. 

5. What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

How to Win Friends and Influence People? Or any book teaching people skills that doesn’t involve broken necks, a switchblade or poison.

Actually, probably the Bible would he best. *coughcough*

6. Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?

Hah. Hah.

Dead Shot’s been pulled from death’s door enough times to make him a walking miracle. Eventually he became skilled enough and subtle enough that not many people have the training to actually be a threat to him.

If he’s hurt he tends to himself stoically or seeks aid if the injury is too severe for even him to handle.

7. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?

He and Lukas have built a cautious balance of trust and respect in their respective roles as assassin-who-answers-to-someone-besides-himself-now/ship captain turned leader of a motley crew. 

Dead Shot holds a high opinion of Lechra. Sii Sari annoys him to no end. 

His and Angel’s friendship is of the love/hate variety and Laser is like the kid on the block that you tolerate and end up getting out of scrapes left and right. 

I love these guys so much.

8. On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?

Depends on who he’s around. As a general rule, he’s about a 5. Only because he has a tendency to blend in with the background and people forget he’s around. Until he abruptly joins in the conversation, that is. 

He regularly gives poor Lechra and Laser near heart attacks. 

9. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

Well, seeing as he can already travel most anywhere in the world, and has actually traveled further throughout the galaxy than most people….

10. Who was the last person they held hands with?

Probably his mother? Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far–oh, wait.


1.How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?

Laser has an exhaustive repertoire ranging from a deceptively innocent smile to genuine mirth to full-out glee. He uses said repertoire frequently. 

If a stranger smiled at him he’d probably either grin back or pretend to be blind depending on his mood. 

2. What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

Most of his peers had nothing but negativity to say about his level of brilliance, but the worst was when his girlfriend broke up with him and told him that the only thing keeping him from being utterly worthless was his brains. 

Needless to say, since then Laser’s avoided relationships, and most girls around his age. 

3. What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

The kindest thing hasn’t been said to him yet.

4. What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

His grandpa taking him on an illegal space jump. Laser was grounded for six months when they got back, but the dazzlingly splendor of the universe was burned into his mind and the resulting hunger to travel throughout the galaxy directly influenced his decision to join Mingled.

5. What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

I…. actually have no idea. 

PSALMS. He needs all the verses about how loved and precious we are. 

6. Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?

He broke his left wrist once. Worst three months of his life (he’s left-handed). And he has a germ phobia of sorts so when he gets so much as a paper cut he’s scrambling for iodine, skin adhesives, ANYTHING AT ONCE PROMPTLY AND ASAP.

7. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?

Wellll. Laser has authority issues so his first few months interacting with Captain Lukas were….. interesting. Angel is his object of hero worship (which said Hero feels slightly unworthy of/soaks it up like a sponge. Oh, honey). Sii Sari is basically like the intimidating big sister and Lechra the lovable big sister… who still has stern moments anyway. 

Dead Shot scares him, and also fascinates him because ASSASSIN. Laser’s still very much a boy at heart, bless him. 

8. On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?

A six, methinks. Being just out of his teenage years he’s still going through some rough patches when it comes to maturity and all that. But Laser tends to be a weird combination of easy-going and high-strung so it makes for some interesting group dynamics. Basically nobody in Mingled has any qualms putting him in his place if need be, but they all are affectionately rough or supportive depending how they express their care for him. 

(For instance, given a certain situation, Sii Sari would hit him upside the head and tell him to stop being such an idiot. Lechra would ask him questions designed to get him to think it through.)

9. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

He particularly wants to visit the Scarlet Cities that orbit Jupiter. His Grandpa told him incredible tales about its people and the spice markets and how if you stand under the golden hourglass in a particular market square, you can actually see all seventeen kaleidoscope-like cities at once. 

10. Who was the last person they held hands with?

Lechra. It was in the middle of a mission, Laser happened to be along instead of on the ship running backup as per usual; he got distracted, Lukas had no intentions of leaving him behind so when they were discovered he told Lechra to grab the “kid” and make a run for it. 

This not-actual-family makes my heart happy.