The queen was, for a long time, a minor character compared to the role of her husband, King Venelaos, or her daughter, Princess Nadyenne. Yet, as I developed the backstory, she gained some degree of importance – not one to take her to the spotlight but one that makes her an integral part of the story due to her heritage.
During the very earliest stages (concepts and demo), Illeana was limited to mentions of ‘the queen’. Even during the first two or three drafts, she had barely any other role. It was the result of other aspects of the story: King Venelaos took care of ruling the kingdom while Princess Nadyenne was taking the ‘social spotlight’ of the family.
The moment when Illeana’s backstory became important was when I needed a reason why the pair has only one child (Nadyenne) and is known to have given up on pushing for a male heir.
Creating the backstory
What I came up with? The queen was victim of a disease that left her severely weakened, to the point giving birth to Nadyenne almost killed her. As the same disease killed the king’s mother, Venelaos decided he did not want Nadyenne to grow without a mother as well – and knew she was unlikely to survive another pregnancy. Thus, Venelaos got another apsect of his personality: compassion.
I haven’t delved deeper into this part of the story until I got midway through drafting the to-be book two, where the elven nobility makes a larger appearance. When I did, the queen’s backstory was expanded even more with a strong tie to the events unfolding in the second half of book two and the third book (which I can’t mention due to spoilers and some details being still work in progress). Yet, as it was compassion what saved the queen from being sacrificed for a male heir, it was the queen’s compassion who shaped the pair in their youth – based on the backstory I had thence forged.
What I can say at this point? The queen’s backstory became a light take on the ‘family feuds‘ cliché: House Redshard has a bitter hatred towards the House Crystelan after suffering a defeat at their hands several generations ago. Illeana decided to put that aside and went as far as to marry their sworn enemy. The potential of this rivalry is dulled by the fact Illeana was from a side branch and thus not a heir of House Redshard but it caused bitterness among her own – to the point some consider her a traitor.
While all of this is merely a backstory, it’ll have a significant impact on the Eternal Defenders in the second half of the trilogy due to the connections between Nadyenne and Tyr’eshal (again, can’t say more for spoiler reasons).
This is pretty much everything I could say on the matter of creating the queen’s character. The last bit I will share is that her first name is pretty much a random idea.
If you want to see the queen’s backstory in a more factual matter, I’ve written a character overview. You can also have a look on the other mentioned characters:
King Venelaos (development process | character overview)
Princess Nadyenne (development process | character overview)
So, another look behind the scenes of my writing is over. See you next time!