I thought it might be best to start out slowly, with a character that isn't yet engaged in actively telling his story.
Not that I haven't tried, of course. Konaton is ... not the chatty sort. As you'll no doubt get to see firsthand. That's next week. The origins alone, the sheer span of time it has taken me to get him even this far out of his shell, totally boggles my mind.
I was trolling search engines, looking for names for secondary characters. Unique, but viable, spellings. I hate nonsense names, and I hate to arbitrarily just change the way something is spelled just for the sake of differentiation. Especially not without verifying any meaning or source it may have. There are so many cultures out there in the world, varied and rich, one tends to sometimes stumble upon unintentional meanings.
|From the US Geological Survey, Geographic Dictionary of Alaska.|
I wanted to poke at him. "Hello, who the hell are you and where'd you come from?"
No answer, of course.
Just this. Below is the original character sketch I drafted when "Konaton" first crossed paths with me and took up residence in the darkest reaches of my mind.
The name is South-Pacific Islander in origin. Rolls off the tongue nicely, with a combination of sharp consonants and round vowels. He's someone who changes moods in the flash of an eye. A man who can smile at you one minute and stab you through the heart with your own fork the next. Not in the back; he does have honor after all.
He's a "black irish".... No flaunting his temper in a head of red hair for all to see. This one, you don't see coming, like a Mack truck with no running lights plowing through an intersection. His eyes are the icy grey of a winter sky, offering no promise of warmth and not even the faintest hope of relief in sight. A Winter Solstice Dream.... the longest night, with only the dismal anticipation of brutally cold weather ahead. Though many cultures use this pagan observance as a reason to indulge in revelry and the celebration of light and life that the coming spring will bring, Konaton is the "Black Death" lurking in the shadows, leering. He is the wolf pack racing over the ice-crusted snow, hunger spurring their speed as they ambush their prey. He is the deadly chill that freezes the sap in the trees and shatters them with a sound like the volley of cannon-fire.
Konaton is, understandably, a cynical pessimist. Not so much "gloom and doom, woe is me" as he is "yeah. sure. let me get right on that" while he keels back, kicks up his feet, and tosses down a shot of whiskey. One never knows if a task will hold his interest long enough for him to complete it or not. He lives for a challenge, but the best way to ensure he'll follow through -- is to engage his self-preservation instincts in the process.During the time that I was co-writing FOAT with Aleks, I went searching for a photo to serve as a visual representation of the character I was writing. I needed to "see" him. I found one -- but I also discovered the silhouetted figure of Konaton as well. I saw it, and knew in my gut it was someone. Was distracted with the current project, though, so I saved it to my computer. A few weeks later, he deigned to make the connection for me.
The excerpt wasn't written until early September, shortly after the co-write project reached resolution. I had the opportunity to chat with a few vets about PTSD, about the things it does to them. About their experiences, both before and after retirement from the armed forces. It's rare that they talk about such things. People don't understand what they've been through. People don't understand what the military trained them to be. They just want to be left alone, not poked and prodded like lab rats.
One vet in particular told me of roosting outside his mother's house for months on end, because he wanted her to be safe. It was this instance that birthed the scene, that inspired it. Konaton spoke up, and showed me what it was like to do that sort of thing. The mindset that a former soldier would have, what would drive them to do it.
It's difficult for me to see where Konaton is trying to take me. What he'll show me next, or even the nature of the story he has to share. It's entirely possible that this is the predator to pit against another of his own ilk.
What a showdown that would make -- sniper versus vampire. Who's hunting who?