There are several characters in Seven Noble Knights who began as a throwaway phrase in the source material. An important character named Yusuf came about because Mudarra needed a guide through Christian Spain, and as we saw last week, Justa blossomed out of Doña Lambra having "a single maid" at one point in the story. They both took on their own story arcs, which seemed to develop independent of my intentions, but fit into the novel so beautifully, they look planned.
Blanca Flor, however, is all mine. The epic poem states that Ruy Blásquez and Doña Lambra had no issue, but what if the case was more that after the terrible things their parents did, no one wanted to be associated with them, especially by blood ties? When I write the sequel to Seven Noble Knights, that tension will feature throughout.
|Doña Lambra, raging mad by Ayal Pinkus|
Personally, when I think of a female between 14 and 20 years old, I don't see a fully grown woman, but in the tenth century, that was the age of maturity. So I took inspiration for Blanca Flor's look from her mother.
I was going for the beauty of the mother, but full of kindness.
Here's how the description ended up, from the point of view of Mudarra:
He ducked behind the tree trunk, from where he observed a being who radiated so much brightness he hardly dared to keep watching her, and yet he couldn’t look away. As he stared, he distinguished two long braids the color of gold thread that pulled the hood from her head and whipped from side to side and front to back as the girl-woman changed her gait to suit her mood. Her mantle flew away from her body with each step like the wings of a giant bird taking flight. At her neck, an underdress of a fine, almost transparent fabric protected her fair skin from her tunic's blue wool. The skirt, covered in embroidered whorls, danced stiffly atop soft leather boots. Somewhere below the rapturous feelings the female caused in him, Mudarra thought he would visit a cobbler and have similar boots made for himself. She distractedly passed the empty bucket from one soft-looking mitten to the other as she meandered toward the riverbank. He had never laid eyes on anything like her.
We'll see a lot more of her in the sequel!
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!