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Monday, November 14, 2016

Meet the Characters: Baddies Male and Female and a Treat for Newsletter Subscribers

The Seven Noble Knights ten-copy ARC extravaganza has chosen its winners from 870 entrants! I'm busy mailing the copies out, and have faith that they will find the right readers.

A couple of weeks ago, we were introduced to Mudarra, the hero of Seven Noble Knights. This novel is so epic, there's more than one villain!

The story on which I base Seven Noble Knights contains many historical figures, but the existence of Ruy Blásquez and Doña Lambra has not been fully verified, perhaps because no one, even today, would welcome the possibility of being associated with such vile traitors.

Ruy Blásquez is even a little hard to define as a part
of the statue of his wife in Barbadillo
Ruy Blásquez doesn’t kill a king or even a count. But his heinous crime leaves him with all the power for a generation at the turn of the eleventh century.

The crime is all the worse because it's an assault on the family of Doña Sancha, his sister. There are few stronger blood ties at this time in history. An uncle is expected to take on an almost nurturing role, ensuring that his nephews realize their potential, especially on the battlefield, and for this surrogate father to actively seek their harm smacks of taboo. Additionally, Ruy Blásquez's close association with powerful Muslims taints him in the eyes of his Christian neighbors. His actions betray not only his blood relatives, but also the Christian faith.

Although I tell the story from many different points of view in my novel, Ruy Blásquez’s actions are so hard to understand that I dared not take a seat behind his eyes. The source material writers seem to have felt the same taboo. They make an effort to distance the audience from Ruy Blásquez, referring to him as I do here, always with his first and last names, and usually appending “that traitor” or calling him simply “the traitor.” I took a more subtle route: I made him slippery, hard to get a handle on in general, so that his incomprehensibility in the betrayal is somewhat believable. The reader is left to conjecture that his wife, Doña Lambra, made him do it.

The author couldn't help grinning with
the statue of her villainess in Barbadillo 
Doña Lambra, on the other hand, was too much fun not to try to understand. She’s frustrated because she has to marry Ruy Blásquez and covets the nephews’ superior power. She also feels an inconvenient level of sexual tension around her handsome new nephews-in-law, and when they get into an argument and kill her cousin, she snaps. She has to be a little insane to take such a disproportionate revenge, but she also has to be manipulative or influential in order to get Ruy Blásquez to agree, even if he is wishy-washy. It was delightful creating this dangerous beauty the reader loves to hate. I would imagine how I would handle the situation, and then have Lambra do the greatly exaggerated opposite. Readers get to live many lives; authors even more so!

Curious about Lambra?

Subscribers to my newsletter will get a truly special treat in December: a prequel short story that shows the defining moment when Doña Lambra went bad, told from the naive point of view of her foster sister and maid, Justa. It's exclusive: no one else will ever have access to this most illuminating story!