Friday, May 24, 2013

Characters: Mudarra

Mudarra is the somewhat unlikely hero of the second half of The Seven Noble Knights of Lara. The reader spends a lot of time in his point of view, so my first priority was to make sure we could see the world through his eyes, sympathize with him, and generally root for him. Then I had to present him from the outside, when another point of view character meets him for the first time. He should have dark hair and light eyes and a scruffy beard, much like the picture above, although probably even a bit younger.

This guy should credibly play his father in the movie version. (Oh, yes, the role of Don Gonzalo is coming for you, Mr. Clooney!)

I could have looked online for inspiring pictures like these, but at the time, I thought it would be more creative to draw a picture myself. I've never been a particularly visual writer, so I thought that might jump-start those muscles. Sometimes the creativity only really gets flowing in one area when you take a break and try to create in another medium. I never took drawing lessons, but here's my description guide for Mudarra.

Would this make an impression on you?

Here's how the description ended up:

... how could it be anyone else, with the same cowlick in the front of his dark, almost black hair that pointed in every direction before curling almost tamely under his ears? His eyes were shaded under the same wild brows, and his long, straight nose, exactly like his father’s. His square chin supported the same half-grown stubble of a child on the verge of becoming a man. His mouth was pursed in seriousness, but Sancha recognized instantly its shape, always ready to burst into a smile or laughter. ...

Where had he been all this time? He’d been doing well. As he knelt before them, his long cloak opened to reveal that it was lined entirely in a fur as fine as silk and much warmer than the hole-ridden lynx pelt. The tunic he wore underneath, made of a soft-looking, fuzzy fabric, seemed to create its own heat with its bright red color and golden embroidery. The hand he held out to her and her husband had golden rings embedded with shimmering carbuncles on each finger. Even his boots were studded with beads that sparkled as much as rubies. The only detail that seemed out of place for a well-landed lord somewhere in Andalusia or in the borderlands was the length of rough string that secured a small pouch around his neck.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Characters: Doña Lambra and Doña Sancha

I used these illustrations of ninth-century noble ladies as the inspiration for what Doña Lambra and Doña Sancha, the two main female characters, are wearing the first time they meet each other in Burgos before the wedding. 

I colored the edges of Lambra's chain mail girdle and sleeves to appear as if they were pieces of jade in a brass setting. Her dress should probably be a richer color, as it's her best dress, inherited from her mother. I think the most inspiring element of this sketch is the haughty look in the tilt of her head and pursing of her lips.

I imagined Sancha's underdress or chainse to be made of a delicate, expensive fabric, and the tunic or bliaud to be richly colored, but with a more Hispanic type of embroidery. The mantle seems mainly practical to me, but perhaps it was once dyed a very dark color that has faded to grey with washing. I imagine her shorter than Lambra, even though she's much older, and the pleasant expression in the sketch is appropriate to the character I describe in the novel.

These come from Tom Tierney's Medieval Fashions Coloring Book. Sometimes, writing gets to be too much and you just have to color.

Cultural note: The title doña is the female equivalent of don, which is used in the same manner as English "sir." It may be used with the first name or the complete name, but not with the last name only. Derived from Latin dominus and domina, they translate more or less to "Lord" and "Lady."