The development of Ellisia mirorred that of Kraasian Darkwood for a long time. They were a pair from the start and they develped as one. Eventually, there were some other aspects I managed to show through her.
Since they shared their fate (originally being backstory characters dying off-screen before the trilogy’s beginning) and that fate changed hand-in-hand, much of the early development was shared with Kraasian Darkwood, Ellisia’s husband – development which I described in the first ‘episode‘ of these blog posts.
As time went, Ellisia shared the development process with another female character – Queen Illeana (who I’ll likely cover at some point in the future). That is, being a wife of a major character, serving mostly to develop their backstory. That was despite the fact that Ellisia is an active front-line warrior.
I intended Ellisia to be based on the ‘shieldmaiden’ concept (which I believe comes from Viking/Norse mythology) with some twists: she uses a shield not just defensively but for offense as well, to the point she had a custom shield forged, the edges sharpened to allow her unexpected counterattacks.
As for her name, it’s probably an amalgamation of many similar-sounding names I’ve ever heard, from several languages. The way I pronounce it myself has an italian hint to it, so to say.
Winds of change
In the early drafts, Ellisia and Kraasian were a pair of warriors who were quite alike in far too many aspects. As the story focuses more on the father-son elements, Ellisia’s personality did not get many chances to shine in the early drafts.
That was, until I delved deeper into Tyr’eshal. It made me think more about both his parents. Kraasian was shifted more towards the direct type who sometimes let the inner tactician prevail even in non-combat situations and thus being someone able to encourage his son when it came to his combat skills but not so much when it came to personal struggles – and the moments when he did, it was from a highly practical point of view.
Ellisia became the counterbalance. She did not get her chances that often but when she does, she makes it count. Unlike Kraasian, she knows the difference between justification and actual support when helping her son facing a difficult moments. And she does her best to protect Kraasian from himself when he might get carried away by his own plans.
Origins and backstory
For a long time, all I had regarding Ellisia’s backstory was that she met Kraasian during one of her assignments and they eventually became lovers, with no details for that. In fact, I developed most of these details only recently, caused by a random idea during a gloomy autumn hike (why is gloomy weather so good for inspiration, I wonder?) and eventually edited a few passages in the to-be first book to show some of it.
A few more random ideas led to a few smaller scenes that’ll show a bit more about Ellisia and her family (her parents will have a small appearance in the first and the third book) to show some other bits about her backstory.
To wrap it up, I’ll share the fact that Ellisia was, for some time, a kind of central character to my writer’s doubt. As some aspects of the Darkwood pair changed later in the story, I was often doubting they are different enough to not be just male and female of the same character type but a pair that complements each other. I think I’ll need to wait for some external feedback and see.
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