When I first began writing Glow (what would be later called Return to Arethane,) the sole purpose of the story was to focus on these elves who had been dropped into this foreign world and had to learn to cope. It was intended to be a love story, an affair that had gone wrong, about two individuals that had been torn apart by fate and circumstance. Emily was meant to simply be the narrator, a sort of Nick Carraway to bring the reader into this fantasy world. I wanted the elves seen through the eyes of a human. The song "Amazing" by Johnette Napolitano was an inspiration for that moment, that first experience when the elves entered Emily's, and thus the reader's world.
My first incarnation of Emily was as a wallflower, a fly on the wall to this otherworldly love story. Her looks were very nondescript. Strawberry blonde hair, brown eyes, nothing too extreme. But the story suffered because of that. I couldn't see Emily in my mind and therefore the narration of the story had no voice. And then Emily started forcing forcing her way off the wall. She and Jarrad were never meant to be a couple. There was never supposed to be anything between them. Emily was just a tag-along as forces were navigated to bring Karawyn and Aerath back together. But Emily and Jarrad had other plans. The more the story progressed - one chapter at a time - the more it became apparent that Emily and Jarrad were meant for each other. Instead of fighting it, I had to give into them and boy, did they ever take over from there.
The problem still remained that I couldn't see Emily in my mind. I made attempts to flesh her out, wrote up her likes and dislikes, her favorite music, etc, but it didn't seem to matter. Around that time I met Aubrey's little sister. She had character, she stood out - with her short, choppy red hair, lip ring and unique fashion sense, she was someone who made an impression. And as I wrote more, the more that was how I saw Emily. So after asking her permission, (a courtesy I didn't give my brother and sister - you don't have to, with family) she became my inspiration for Emily and suddenly Glow had a voice, the reader became engaged, Emily, my wallflower narrator was someone the reader could relate to, could understand.
Eventually, much like with Jarrad, Emily became her own person. As she evolved, as her relationship with Jarrad evolved, and as the story evolved, Emily was fully formed and someone else entirely. In my mind, she favored the below image more and more, with the addition of a lip ring.
It's funny how characters change and how they grab the wheel of the story and take it where they want to go. I would read about other writers experiencing this same phenomenon and thought they were just being overly dramatic, that they were a little too into their art. But it's true, it happens. And while some characters explode onto the paper right from the beginning fully formed and fleshed out - like Karawyn and Dafne - others evolve and grow and make the experience of writing the story as much of an adventure as the story itself.
Right now I'm working on the last book of this series - or at least I'm trying to. I've been having a hard time getting motivated to write. I have about three to four other projects that are just started or a thirds written and I don't know if my wanting to work on those is killing my ability to work on this, or if it's because I know this is the end for these characters. These people and elves and creatures who I have lived with for the last five years will have their closure, come to their conclusion and maybe I'm just not ready to say good-bye to them yet.