This is our last batch of deep dives into characters, and we’re hitting up our main protagonists: Rigel and Leila!
When I first designed this series, I knew Rigel was going to be a challenge. I mean, the guy tries to kill Leila the first times he sees her. Ingratiating him to other characters, much less you Champions, was going to be a difficult task.
Moreover, I needed Rigel to be believably competent to the point where he was almost scary, but then I needed him to believably switch to helping Leila. The tension of the story would be terrible if he easily switched sides, and if he started the series by siding with her that was going to make the whole thing of him trying to kill her totally fake. And Rigel needed to be the one to try to kill Leila because it would make for interesting romance–which is a real fight for me–and he was my best source of clues for hinting at who was ultimately responsible, which I badly needed!
To make it worse, Rigel wasn’t a talkative character! Killian is charismatic and totally willing to carry on a conversation, which makes it easier to show out the different facets of his personality. Rigel–silent with a penchant for looming–was the exact opposite. This meant I had to show more scenes from his point of view so readers knew what he was thinking and, more importantly, I had to make every sentence he spoke and every physical action he took count on about five different levels.
It’s a huge deal when–during their wedding–Rigel steps up to protect Leila. But it took pretty much the entire book to set up for that moment so you’d be able to understand how crucial that change was.
I wanted Rigel to fall in love in a way that was different from my previous male protagonists–particularly Killian and his love story with Hazel. That was partially what inspired me to make him an assassin–the idea of taking this silent assassin and mashing him with loveable Leila and watching the sparks fly made me actually excited–instead of petrified–to write their romance.
Hilariously, the hardships with Rigel became the very thing that made him fun to write: his subtleties. The way he can tell the glooms and shades apart and will pet them, the fact that he listens and hears Leila when she’s up late at night and fighting an emotional battle–he shows his character and his love in a hundred tiny ways. And while that was daunting at the start of the series, by the end I was having an utter blast dreaming up all of his minute actions.
Plus, I love a good villains-to-lovers romance, so I was destined to like our taciturn hero!
Fierce, blunt, and hilarious Leila is undoubtedly one of my favorite heroines I’ve ever gotten to write. Her sarcasm combined with the general obliviousness of the fae–and their horror at her playfulness–made her a dream to write.
She tumbled onto the scene because I wanted to write a modern day heroine who didn’t want to be queen and was so different from her people she was practically alien to them. I knew it would make for some great laughs, and I also knew that in order for the fae to be “saved” just as Hazel and Killian have begun whipping the vampires and wizards into shape, that the fae needed someone who wouldn’t back down but was also kind enough to listen.
And that is Leila’s true power. Yes, she won’t take death threats sitting down, or let her nobles push her around, but she’s willing to forgive, and she can be kind. That’s why she accepts Chrysanthe’s friendship–and Chrys pays her back tenfold. It’s why she loves the night mares even though they look like something that stepped out of a horror story–and again, they pay back her love tenfold.
While Leila’s sarcasm is the flashiest part of her personality, it’s her kindness that makes reclaiming the Night Realm possible. The Night Court would never have shown up for a queen who only belittled fae and did whatever she wanted. But they would die for Leila because she’s strong enough to stop the infighting, and soft enough to forgive them.
For example, even though she hates socials and does everything she can to decrease spending, she knows those events are important to the fae, so she makes sure they happen. (On a much more reasonable budget, but it’s the thought that counts!) And while she resists tea for almost the entirety of the series, her loyalty to her people is what makes her break and try tea–and she’s rewarded because it turns out her people decided to try coffee because of their loyalty to her.
Leila is all about opposites coming together. She’s human and fae; sarcastic and soft; strong in magic but weak in her own realm; intelligent but ignorant in a lot of fae ways.
There won’t ever be another heroine quite like Leila, but I loved her story, and I can’t wait to watch her keep growing as the Magiford stories continue.
That’s all for today, Champions! I hope you enjoyed our character studies. We still have a few more themed posts to go through–I hope you’re having as much fun as I am! Until next time, have a beautiful day!