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Monday, November 21, 2016

Seven Noble Knights Characters: Long-Suffering Justa

Perennially overworked Justa 
Justa is one of the characters I added to the mix from the original epic story I based Seven Noble Knights on. In the old draft of the story that no one will ever see, Justa was conceived as a snarky maid for Doña Lambra, the main narrator, and a commentator on the story.

When I started over, I decided Doña Lambra was negative enough. She didn't need a snarky sidekick. So Justa became a sweet girl who longs for a normal life, but her ties to Lambra won't permit the freedom to pursue it. She took on more of the characteristics associated with her name, which is the same as an early Spanish martyr saint, and whose meaning has to do with fairness or justice, and then it turned out that she needed a snarky foil. That sassy role is filled by Gotina, a minor character.

Using the distaff and watching the kid 
Partly because my critique group really liked her character, and partly because it fit brilliantly into the plot, Justa turned into a major character with a fairly complex arc. When I write the sequel to Seven Noble Knights, it will focus largely on Justa, the decisions she makes before and after Seven Noble Knights comes to a close, and their ramifications.

She was born into a family of the minor nobility the same year as Lambra, and she looks enough like her that they could be sisters. In Part Two of Seven Noble Knights, our hero, Mudarra, is afraid she might be Doña Lambra when he first meets Justa. She comes into Lambra's household as a foster child when her parents are killed in a border raid, and lives as if she were Lambra's sister until Lambra's parents are killed. From that moment on, Lambra treats Justa as her personal servant, and Justa suffers it because she has nowhere else to go. The ties created when Lambra's family took her in are not easily broken, but everyone has their breaking point. When Justa finds hers, the story comes to an end.

It's a pretty important role for someone who started out as a snarky maid.

This is artist Ayal Pinkus's rendition of Doña Lambra.
Justa looks a lot like her, but she never gets to throw a fit. 
The last chapter of Part One is devoted to Justa's point of view. She gets to fall in love and dream of possibilities beyond her bad-luck servile situation. The romance may not be coincidental: this is the novel's only Chapter XIII, which is the lucky number my husband and I adopted. In this chapter, Justa lets slip perhaps her most iconic line:

"She may control everything I do, 
but she doesn't have any secrets from me."

Smart readers who subscribe to my mailing list will get to catch a glimpse of how Justa's and Doña Lambra's characters were formed in a prequel story in December, just in time to celebrate the release of Seven Noble Knights!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven Noble Knights by Jessica Knauss

Seven Noble Knights

by Jessica Knauss

Giveaway ends December 14, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
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