Thursday, August 14, 2014

Origins of Ven Zaran

Every character comes from somewhere. There is some inspiration behind each one. Watching a documentary on James Bond a few days ago inspired me to write about where I found Ven Zaran.

To begin with, I didn't start with Ven himself. He first appeared in a story set much later, featuring his great-grandson, Mishka Zaran. He was history. In the first draft of Well of Dreams, that historical aspect hung on and I had to find him. By the end of the first draft he was mostly there.

I would be lying if I didn't admit that the smuggler archetype from Star Wars (Han Solo and Lando Calrissian) didn't play a part. But in equal part with the American trucker. Ven was born from that, but as the squeaky clean image a great-grandson might build. That wouldn't do so I deliberately mixed in a bit of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is a genius, the best at what he does, but he had a drug problem. That is an aspect of the character that has often been glossed over. No glossing with Ven. His drug problem is pivotal to that first novel. But there was one last piece that Ven needed to meet his destiny.

These first six novels tell his story and prepare him for what comes next. In a way it is two trilogies, but not in the conventional way. The first three do form a story arc, but only one of there. Books 1, 3, and 4 delve into Ven as a person. Books 2, 4, and 6 (in the planning stages) lead up to the next three books. But I couldn't wait to write all six before truly knowing who Ven was. Still, the last piece didn't come until I was planning book 5. But considering how long I have enjoyed that series of movies that inspired me for book 5, I think that piece was there all along. James Bond had a part in his development. In fact most every fictional story I have enjoyed had contributed something to the character of Ven Zaran, but those pieces are the majority.

Ven has turned into a complex character with hidden origins. Well, the details are hidden, but the effects are obvious. He knew what he wanted from childhood and was determined to get it and didn't let anything get in his way. That drive had pitted him against many antagonists with more to come.

Some authors put themselves into their characters and I'm sure that is true with Ven, but he is quite different. He is much more a compilation of fictional characters.

Some who read this and who have read the stories might wonder why Malcolm Reynolds hasn't been mentioned. Well, Ven was born long before I ever saw Firefly. I missed the original run and didn't see it until it came out on DVD. By then I'd written the first two novels. I noted the similarities, but that only encouraged me to keep writing about him.

Ven Zaran, part Han Solo, part trucker, part Sherlock Holmes, part James Bond, and in the end wholly original.

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