The "Unexpected Inspiration" Characters

Jul 20, 2015

Maps (layouts) of the carnival wagons




Maps! Okay, these are technically blueprints or layouts, but I’ll share actual maps at some point soon. :) My characters are part of a carnival troupe, so they live in what I call carnival wagons until I can think of a better term. They’re something like a cross between a gypsy wagon and a motorhome.

While I've worked out that they have stoves and running water (pumped from a tank), I've been toying with the notion that instead of being pulled by horses or some kind of animal, they're pedal-powered. Magic can't grant propulsion, but this is a country where the magic users are the artists and inventors and magic supplements a lot of the technology. There's no reason why the wagons, large as they are, can't be driven like bicycles. Or maybe they hover off the ground slightly instead of using wheels and the pedaling powers a blower, kind of like a hovercraft? These ideas would work fine in the main country where magic is common and the land is flat with well-made roads. I'm not so sure how well it would work when the characters head into the mountains of the very cold north in book 3. I know I want to do something fantastical with these, though.

Anyway, back to the wagons. I think they uploaded to scale with each other. These are pretty plain sketches, but I'm happy with them because they give me a good idea of the layouts. The top one (Blythe's) is where a bunch of book 1 takes place since she shares it with another main character. (Adair is afraid of heights, so he can't stand the bunks. He sleeps on the floor instead.) The second wagon shows up almost as much since that's where the MCs' best friends live. The Healer wagon belongs to Blythe's mentor, so she's in there a few times during the course of the series.

I'm not set on the layout of the last wagon since that belongs with book 3 and I haven't started writing that one yet. All I can see in my head is Blythe grumbling over the fact that after having her own space for several years, she’s now stuck living with two people and they’re always in her way!

Oh, and it's kind of a joke that I put Adair's cat into each of my maps at least once. She'll show up again later. It's like a game of Where's Waldo. ;)

~Meri

Jul 8, 2015

Art of the "Unexpected Inspiration" Trio

“Hey! You! Stay right there.”

Adair fumbled the small sack when he heard that familiar voice call out in its authoritative tone. He did as he was instructed and waited until the Soldier stalked over to him. [...] Adair remained where he stood and held the sack up, although whether as the intended bribery or as a shield, he couldn't be sure. He gave a weak smile and hoped that an innocent expression would help.

The woman looked down at the sack then back up at Adair's face from under a fringe of dark bangs. Then back down at the sack. Finally, she asked, “Why are you handing me a bag?”

It seemed as though Adair had managed to perplex her. That was a start. “Peace offering?”

She took the sack somewhat reluctantly and kept it away from her face as she looked inside. Even from that distance the smell was able to waft upwards. “You brought me a pastry? What did you do to it?”

“All I did was carry it from the inn to here. I didn't eat it or something, if that's what you mean!”

She was eying him again. Adair fought the urge to fidget. Finally she seemed to reach a conclusion. “You really wouldn't think about tainting food, would you?”

Oh, so that was what she had meant! “Why... why would I do that?”

“Simple. Because you're trying to get where you don't belong.”

Adair gaped at her. That kind of reasoning was so foreign to his way of thinking that he couldn't even begin to wrap his mind around poisoning food. “No! I just thought you'd be nicer and not wave your knife around at me if I did something nice for you first.”
- From the current draft of Unexpected Inspiration: Colorweaver (book 1)
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More character art! I commissioned this one from ilovezombiesxxx on DeviantArt. If you’re looking for custom art, check her out! I love Ty’s drawing style! It’s a little cartoony while being somewhat realistic, which is fun, and it was her use of colors that drew me to contact her. I love how fluid and vibrant the colors are in her art!

Anyway, this art is of my main characters in the “Unexpected Inspiration” trilogy: Blythe, Adair, and Etri. The blurb is from the day Adair met Blythe and ... well, he’s really big on pies and desserts, so it went well with the art. I love how Blythe has this expression on her face like “Where the heck did you manage to find another pie??” Adair’s obsession with food is actually what earns him Blythe and Etri’s friendships; he tends to use food to get on peoples’ good sides and it usually works. ;)

Here's a short summary about the characters. Blythe is trained as a warrior and serves as their carnival troupe’s assistant healer, blade dancer, and part-time guard. (She has her favorite knife on her belt and the flowers in her hair represent that she loves plants and gardening.) Adair is one of the few non-carnies in the series (although by book 2 he’s been accepted into the troupe) and is a cartographer/painter with illusion magic; he got his tattoo-like skin discoloration during a magic fight because for his type of magic user, magic has color. (He has his paintbrush behind his ear and the sling across his chest holds his painting supplies.) Etri is the carnival troupe’s fire eater and knife performer, as well as working as a sort-of thief on the side. (He’s incredibly foreign, so he’s much taller and paler than anyone else in the series.) These three become close friends in book 1 (Colorweaver). Part of the plot of book 2 (Sentinel) involves their relationship progressing and they end up with a kind of psychic/empathetic link thanks to Plot, the artists’ magic and customs, and some meddlesome ghosts of deity-like beings. This link is normal for Adair's subculture and is essentially the artists’ form of marriage- which the three wander into pretty blindly. Hilarity, some drama, and more pies ensue.

I’ll get more into the characters later when I share individual art. My husband is working on a drawing of Adair, so he'll probably be first.

~Meri

Jul 7, 2015

Art of Firedrake!


Firedrake Doll (fire dancer) Firedrake Doll (fire dancer)
“Are you all right?” the stranger asked as Talan climbed unsteadily back to his feet.

Talan brushed his hair out of his eyes and winced. [...] Then he gaped. There was a reason the stranger's words worked where his failed; the human standing in front of him was a sparkler. There was no denying it when his rescuer possessed the brilliant glow that encompassed the body from head to toe.

Once Talan recovered from the shock of a sparkler striking up a conversation with him, something he always avoided in case he needed to feed from them later, he was hit by another surprise. His rescuer was the most memorable human that he had ever laid eyes on. They had waist-length hair that framed a face with delicate features. Their long coat reached their ankles, but left their arms uncovered, a style Talan had previously not seen worn by anyone else. What he noticed most, though, were the patterns of their skin: their face was marked by dark, intricate swirls and the sleeveless coat revealed the facsimile of scales that reached to their wrists.

“Do you talk?” the stranger asked when Talan made no response.

Talan finally realized that he was staring. “Oh. Yes. I do. Sorry. Thank you for helping me,…?”

He hoped that leaving this gap would allow his rescuer to supply a name. It did, or at least Talan assumed this was a name. To his ears it sounded more like a species. “Firedrake.”

In response Firedrake held out a hand. Talan stared at this for a moment before he remembered that it was part of a common human greeting custom. Unfortunately this left him further baffled. Was he supposed to shake it or kiss it? That seemed to depend on the gender of the person offering the hand, but Talan didn't know enough about humans to determine the correct response in this case. When Firedrake raised an arched, thin eyebrow in his direction at the delay, Talan decided to go with his first instinct. He brought Firedrake's hand to his lips; in this brief moment he discovered that Firedrake's nails were filed into sharp points, reminiscent of the claws Talan once possessed.

The corners of Firedrake's lips curled up slightly. Talan took this to mean that he had done something right because he knew humans smiled when they were pleased.
- From the current draft of “A Sparkler’s Glow” (short story)

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I'm so excited! My husband finally finished drawing the art of Firedrake, so this means that I can share that along with the plushie I finished months ago! The colors came out weird in the photos, though- the art should probably be a little brighter and the doll should be a little darker. The doll is crocheted with fabric paint and polymer clay embellishments, and stands about 6″ tall.

Firedrake is one of my main point-of-view characters in book 1 of my “Unexpected Inspiration” trilogy, as well as getting their own book later and staring in the aforementioned short story. They’re one of my carnival performers- a blade and fire dancer. (The doll is holding fire swords while the art has Firedrake’s beloved dragon-hilted long daggers strapped to their back.) Firedrake is almost always in costume and their stage persona is something like a stylized dragon, including dragon scale tattoos on their arm and red paint on their face. My husband doesn’t have a lot of experience drawing people who aren’t male (Firedrake is agender), so the drawing came out a little too masculine, but that’s basically Firedrake. :)

(I make custom dolls, so if you have a character you’d like made into doll form, check out my website!)

~Meri