Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Elements of Modern Storytelling: Character Development, A Guest Blog by Patricia Burroughs

By Stephanie Osborn

Here is a very cool article by Patricia "Pooks" Burroughs about how her very choice of name defined her character and their world. It was originally published on, on May 23rd of this year.

"What's in a name?" Sometimes, quite a lot...

How a Name Defined a Character and a History

I can’t remember how I chose the surname Fury. I liked it because sounded cool with Persephone, and had a power of its own. There was the concern of it being so closely aligned with a mythos of its own that I might be making a mistake to use it, but I loved the name and decided, done!

My idea for the Fury family was that they were part of the Norman invasion, aristocrats back to the year dot, so to speak. Persephone was a daughter of privilege, raised in luxury, a part of the magical Regency Society. I assumed that Fury was probably a French name, which supported the Norman invasion bit.

But research showed me that I was sadly mistaken. That instead of Norman, my Fury family would be… Irish?

Wait. How could my aristocratic family in the early 1800s be Irish?

If you’re not familiar with this aspect of history, the Irish were pretty much under British thumbs for centuries, were looked down on with great disdain. It was fairly unlikely that any Irish family would be living in England with a position of wealth and prestige unless—

Well, let this adage of the Magi in my books give you a hint:
“In England it is said that the Furys have a gift of pleasing kings.“In Ireland ‘tis said, never trust a Fury.”

Enter: Bardán Fury.

Bardán Fury is my Fury family’s ancestor. He has been dead for centuries when my book starts. Why would he have characterization issues, and why would it matter to me writing a book about his descendants? Well, that’s what I got for choosing an Irish name, and his characterization did end up mattering.

A lot.

When Henry VIII made his move on Ireland, my Bardán was quick to side with power. By betting on the right side to win, he ended up in the English Court as bard and advisor, without Henry or anyone else ever the wiser that they had a magical person amongst their numbers. He even received a lovely manor house as a boon for his services.  You can read more about that here, because that presented its own set of plot twists and rich historical irony.

But Bardán read the writing on the wall and saw that if Christian vs Christian could result in forced conversions, executions and even war, the Magi were in deep trouble if the Ordinary people ever figured out that magical people walked amongst them. He turned the silver tongued charms, political savvy and power of persuasion he’d honed in Henry’s court toward the Magi, and convinced them to withdraw from the Ordinary world completely and form their own society, their own world, right down to establishing (with Bardán’s careful guidance) their own king and court—the House of Pendragon. Of course there was no claim to a true connection between Arthur Pendragon and the first Magi king, but they didn’t let that stop them from usurping the name.

Thus, the idea that the Furys not only pleased kings, but were king-makers.

And again, being no fool, Bardán established the ideas and ideals of a new society, and left the politics and hard work of making it all happen to all the new Magi lords jockeying for favor. He took his own family, retired to his manor house with his music and his stories and a future unfettered by politics and world wide open for exploration.
But he also made certain that none forgot his role, his power, and his family’s importance

When they reached the fireplace, all other thoughts fell away. The Fury marble, the warm, dark green of a forest glade touched by sunlight. The gift of Bardán Fury to King Constantine, it was a miracle of art and magic and skulduggery, an emblem of his support and a reminder for the ages that it was Bardán Fury who had made this king a king. Carved into its surface high on the wall was the handsome countenance of the king in all his splendour, but the mantle itself was supported by the exquisite nude carvings of an unnamed god and goddess, physically and symbolically supporting the king and his progeny. All knew that the god, his tightly curling crown of hair and classically perfect body with strong shoulders and long-fingered hands carrying the weight above, was patterned after Bardán Fury himself, his eyes cast at the floor in all modesty.

Persephone stepped forward and laid her hand against his shoulder and gasped at the contact. It was warm, despite the fact that the fireplace itself was cold and empty. Her eyes closed, and she felt the marble beneath her palm throb in recognition. She reached deep for some inkling of that first Fury, some bit of magic to soothe her, to resonate, and felt nothing more, after that first quick pulse. Finally, regretfully, she let go and found Lord Greylund’s eyes upon her.

Fast forward two-and-a-half centuries and we find the Fury legend and reputation of king-makers is alive and well, as various factions begin circling in an effort to get close to the Furys, to form alliances by friendship, marriage or even abduction.

Suddenly, I had the beginning of a premise, the presence of a threat.

Just as Bardán Fury’s image supports the weight of the vast marble carving of the first magical king, his history and his character support the weight of the story I built.

All because I chose the name Fury.

The blurb for the first book:

Persephone Fury is the Dark daughter, the one they hide.

England, 1811. Few are aware of a hidden magical England, a people not ruled by poor mad George, but the dying King Pellinore of the House of Pendragon.

The Furys are known for their music, their magic, and their historic role as kingmakers. When Fury ambitions demand a political marriage, Persephone is drugged and presented to Society–

Only to be abducted from the man she loves by the man she loathes.

But devious and ruthless, Persephone must defy ancient prophecy, embrace her Dark magic, and seize her own fate.

Be swept away into the first book of a dark fantasy series combining swashbuckling adventure, heart-pounding romance, and plot-twisting suspense.

-Stephanie Osborn