Today we’re finally digging into the two characters you’ve been asked to discuss since I started these posts…Hazel Medeis & Killian Drake!
Hazel was a bit of a special case for me as far as heroines go. Typically I create female protagonists that I feel can–through particular facets of their personality–give unique spins on stories. (ie: Elle of Beauty and the Beast is a lot more sarcastic and curious than the average fairy tale heroine, but she faces the same events and emotional high points.) Before I really nailed down the story, though, I began creating Hazel because I wanted her to be ever so slightly different from typical urban fantasy heroines, which was going to affect the events in the plot a lot more. (Meaning the story had to react to her instead of visa versa.)
Of course, Hazel still has snark and sarcasm by the boatloads, and she can kick butt and take names. But at the core of her character, Hazel is what’s called “a paragon,” a trope that is pretty popular in epic fantasy books.
Paragons are typically male characters who operate entirely out of doing what they believe is right. They don’t hesitate in their actions, they are driven by their goals/desires, and they see the world as black and white–or what’s right and what’s wrong.
As you can see, that pretty accurately describes Hazel. She joins the Drake Family not because she wants to survive, but because she believes she owes it to her House. She is willing to forsake her House beliefs and kill to spare innocents and save others, and her parents betrayal in Magic Forged hurts her to the very core because she believes so deeply in trust.
Urban Fantasy heroines are typically the opposite. Either because of the tragedies they’ve lived through, or because they have no other choice, a lot of UF heroines tend to see the world as shades of gray, and occasionally toe the line of good and evil. It works well with the genre’s tone.
I needed Hazel to be the hard line of right and wrong, and to stand her ground as a paragon because I wanted to use her as the standard to raise all the other characters in the series.
But a twisted part of me also wanted to make Hazel a paragon because you don’t see a ton of paragon heroines. They can be tough to write because they have to be entrenched in their right vs wrong beliefs which can make them come off as unemotional. I was able to skate by because Hazel has so many traumatic things happen to her she never gets a chance to really just chill.
And, yes, as soon as I started working on this series I KNEW I had to make Hazel short. I’m on the taller side of the scale myself, but the vast majority of urban fantasy heroines are at least average, if not slightly taller than average. So I just had to get that prod in there.
And now we have our main male protagonist, Killian Drake. Let’s start this study of Killian’s character with me assuring you Killian actually isn’t so old that he met the real King Arthur, but he never outright denies it because Killian is a master at using assumptions and rumors to increase his perceived reputation and power.
No one really knows how old he is because it suits Killian to have everyone assume he’s old as dirt, and that he has all the power that comes with that age. (In reality, he’s not nearly as ancient as people think–aka no King Arthur for him–but he still is quite old and is a proper Elder vampire.) As a result of people mistaking his age, they often make assumptions about how he was turned into a vampire, and how many vampires he himself spawned, while he intentionally keeps information on his Family spotty at best.
The shadowy way Killian conducts himself extends to his Family. The Drake Family has an incredibly high percentage of adopted vampires in its ranks, which is really unusual because to vampires bloodlines are everything. And yet, every Drake vampire has absolute loyalty to Killian no matter their original lineage, and each and every one of them consider themselves a Drake through and through.
That’s where Killian’s real power lies. Because he cares deeply for his Family while most vampire Elders are lackluster leaders these days, his people deeply respect him. So when he asks them to wear suits, learn firearms, and lift weights they agree to.
The Drake Family is one of the best organized, best trained, and most deadly Families in the USA. The power the Family displays is what makes others assume Killian must be as old as the dinosaurs to be able to lead them, when in reality it’s merely that Killian is an excellent leader, and is charismatic enough to swindle people into believing what he wants them to believe.
As a result of the way he wields these psychological weapons, he the same problems Celestina has–he works more than he should, has no friends, and never has a chance to relax.
Hazel was uniquely poised to affect Killian because she stands outside his circle of power. The going-ons of vampires doesn’t hugely affect Hazel, so she is able to request mercy when Killian–to keep his front of absolute power–would feel he couldn’t offer it. (And it’s Hazel’s paragon character that makes her daring enough to even ask for mercy from someone as feared as Killian, because she feels all the way to her bones that it is right. And in being totally honest, before Hazel, mercy hadn’t really occured to Killian.)
This is also why Hazel and Killian combining forces brings a new power to both of them. Obviously it gives House Medeis a lot of physical backing, and while the Drakes prosper from having wizards fight with them, the alliance gives Killian and all the Drakes the chance and excuse to soften in some areas and still keep their dark and brooding images. (They don’t have to kill if they are confronted with a fight, because they can always blame the sensibilities of their wizard friends.)
As obviously shown by the book’s final battle, the vampires are still willing to eliminate threats, but they didn’t rip through the Night Court forces like they could have because the wizards were there to provide an alternative method. (Similarly, the wizards were strong enough to provide that alternative method because the vampires had been training them for weeks.)
Whew! I went off on a bit of a tangent at the end, there, but I wanted to show how Killian and Hazel are stronger together than apart–which has ramifications on their Family/House as well. I hope you enjoyed this deeper look at Hazel and Killian, and thanks for reading!
Urban fantasy is my favourite genre. It was the magical beings rehabilitation centre books that introduced me to your writing and I have always enjoy reading your blog posts about the inspiration and thoughts behind the worlds and characters you create.
I’ve found the ones about the hall of blood and mercy particularly interesting though because I can tell that your urban fantasy reading experience has been very different from mine. A lot of the things you’ve mentioned in your recent posts as being uncommon in urban fantasy I have found to be quite commonplace. (examples from this post being short heroines and paragons.)
Your explanation of paragon heroes is a fairly accurate description of the heroines from quite a lot of my favourite urban fantasy series. It would not have occurred to me to use the word paragon to describe them though since as you quite rightly observed it’s a term more associated with epic fantasy. I will definitely be using the term in future discussions thank you for that.
I think it is great when a genre is large enough that people can be equally well read in it but have very different experiences it makes for interesting discussions. I have really enjoyed reading about hazel and her world and I hope you will write more in the urban fantasy genre someday 🙂
For other enneagram junkies like me- maybe Hazel might be an enneagram type 1 with a 2 wing and Killian a type 3? Hahaha! Sorry, just nerding out! I never considered it until I read this post 🙂
Meagan C. says
I’m so happy that I got to meet Killian and Hazel! I loved seeing how they grew through their interactions. They were really interesting characters and they were so much fun together! If you are doing any more extras for their story, but I would like to see an extra from Killian’s POV for the moment when Hazel tells him her idea for their strategy. He spends the whole series talking about how he’s not going to do it, I would love to see his reaction when he realizes he’s going to have to!
I can’t second this enough!!
As a vertically challenged individual, I love that you made Hazel petite. If you plan to do more short characters in the future, here are some insights that could add humor/realism to your scenes.
That point when Hazel stole Rupert’s car? She would have had to readjust the seat with a slow-moving button (levers are faster). That would have been a big frustration for her in a moment when she was short on time.
For short people, putting on high heels is like opening up a whole new world. I discovered a whole new set of options located on top of my workplace’s coffee maker the first time I wore heels to work. Hazel wears heels to all these high society events, but rarely at home. It would be interesting what she notices at Drake Hall with the extra few inches added to her line of sight.
Also, Hazel would have had to constantly readjust equipment in the weight room. In my PE classes growing up, I had to become an expert at how to make adjustments for my height for each piece of workout equipment I wanted to use. Annoying, but I did get a perverse glee out of forcing these big jocks to make huge adjustments after I was done with a particular exercise machine.
Thank you for the bio on Hazel and Killian. These two characters were fun to read together. They foil each other well while emphasizing the need to be different in order to compliment and complete each other. They have different strengths and while it might be a pain (and fun to read about) at first, to sort through the differences and experiment on how they can work together, in the end the result is worth the efforts, and sooooo entertaining. 😃
Thank you for reassuring us that Killian isn’t King Arthur old! Also, how OLD is he? Like, is he 1800s Old? Or is he 1700s old?
Killian is at minimum 300 years old because he mentions seeing Versailles at its height, which was during the early-to-mid 18th century (1700s). That is the earliest reference in his point of view narrative (and not someone else’s assumptions or insinuations) I can recall to something he directly experienced. However, he has a certain amount of inner-monologue disdain for other vampires who dress from that time period and seems regard them with mild condescension (“kids these days” is the vibe I get) so I think it’s plausible to assume he’s older even than that. Though of course Killian regards most vampires not in his family (who don’t tend to keep up with the times) with a baseline level of disdain, so it’s hard to be sure.
Thank you so much for even more insight into Hazel and Killian. Honestly, everything you just wrote is what made this series so good. In real life, the most successful relationships are because the people in them are willing to grow together. Hazel makes her house better because she is willing to change and it makes her people stronger. Killian won’t fall into mediocrity and it makes his family stronger. So together, as people who can adapt and who know that they need others in order to be better themselves, they are unstoppable….not to mention adorable, fun, and just great to read about. Seriously, though, their relationship and the way they enhance others around them was by far my favorite part of this book because it represents so much to me of what my marriage and what all relationships are about. We are better together 🙂