The Meet My Character Blog Hop is a fantastic tour of indie speculative-fiction authors’ work, allowing readers to get more of an inside scoop on what makes all those protagonists and antagonists tick.
Last up was Patty Jansen, author of the bestselling Icefire trilogy.
Patty lives in Sydney, Australia, and writes both Science Fiction and Fantasy. She has published over 15 novels and has sold short stories to genre magazines such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact.
Patty was trained as an agricultural scientist, and uses a lot of biology in the background of her stories. Her next novel will be book 3 of the Space Opera Thriller Ambassador series.
Today, it’s my turn. I’ve chosen my favourite creation: the Irish hellcat, Billy Peyton. Introduced in Ruin as a minor character, readers will be seeing a lot more of her in future. Here’s your chance to get acquainted.
1) What is the name of your character? Is he or she a fictional or an historic person?
Billy Peyton is a fictional inhabitant of County Cork, if we’re being strictly objective. As far as I’m concerned, she’s a fully formed human being with hopes and desires, regrets and flaws. She just happens to live inside my head.
2) When and where is the story set?
Billy’s story begins in Schull, a tiny coastal town in southern Ireland. But things aren’t all rosy; Billy was born into a world ruined by the End—an apocalypse that caused the vast majority of the human race to suddenly vanish without warning. Forty years have passed since that day. The world is quiet, empty, and life is hard.
3) What should we know about him or her?
Eight years old, with fire-red hair and a face riddled with freckles, Billy knows nothing of the Old World. What she knows of Before all comes from the few stories Daddy, Ma and Grandpa tell by the fire, and the bedtime stories they read together—that, and the shadowed carcasses of great cities on the horizon, covered over with trees and rust.
Sometimes men come from far away to trade; they brings strange magic fire-starters and maps of places across the Sea. But she never sees them; Daddy always tells her to stay out of sight, stay hidden.
Sometimes she wonders whether Daddy and Grandpa only tell fairy-tales about the other men, and that they really are the only people in the whole world.
The four of them had lived on the farm by the seaside for as long as she could remember—for as long as time.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his or her life?
Famine has struck. Nobody in the family has ever seen anything like it. The crops lay dying in the fields, wilted and black. Nothing will grow. For the first time other men and women are coming and demanding food, food they can’t pay for.
Daddy and Grandpa have had to fight off more than a few. The winter set in hard, and as the long nights wore on and Billy listens to howls of starving refugees wandering in the dark, Ma grows sick.
It begins with the Coughing. Then she stops eating even the scant rations they can afford. Soon she can barely breathe and she is so skinny that her plump face is withered and sunken.
For a time Billy sits with her as the days pass and their stores dwindle to nothing, and watches Ma’s skin turn blue. They talk, and talk. They talk of Before, of what once was, and they dream of good times.
Ma grows fainter. Soon it’s only Billy that talks.
And then Ma goes away. Before she had been made of light, with all her warmth and peace; now in her place there is only a loose bag of wasted flesh. Daddy and Grandpa take her out and bury her behind the lemon bushes.
And still they go hungry.
Soon they grow desperate and plan to sail across the sea to New Land, where Daddy insists there will be food. And so they leave behind everything Billy has ever known in search of the most meagre morsel.
Soon strange new horizon’s meet Billy’s eyes, people who speak oddly are all around, and somewhere out in the wilds of New Land is something that means them harm.
And Daddy has started coughing.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Billy wants nothing more than for things to go back to the way they were. Since Ma got sick with the Coughing, and Daddy and Grandpa stopped tending the farm and started planning to cross the sea, things have all gone wrong. Soon she’s embroiled in a struggle she doesn’t understand, surrounded by people she never knew existed, and those precious to her are being taken away one by one.
She will do anything to hold on to what remains of the Peyton family.
6) What is the title of the book(s), and where can we find out more?
Billy is introduced in Ruin, first instalment in the Ruin Saga. She will take on a much larger role as the trilogy progresses, and will most certainly be making an appearance in the extended works of the Pendulum Universe. Her journey has just begun.
7) When was the book published?
Ruin was published 25th August 2014. The sequel, Brink, is due out Spring 2015.
Next up in the Meet My Character Blog Hop is Vincent Caine, whose debut novel was released on 1st January.
Vincent Caine has been publishing professionally (under a different name and in a different genre) for the last twenty years. He has also worked in the science and education fields, and many of the inspirations for his fiction come from that work. His favorite thrillers are non-stop action fests that feature speculation on technology and humanity’s future.
Keep your eyes peeled for Vincent’s post on 11th January, over on his blog.