“Meet my Character” is a new blog hop similar to the speculative fiction blog hop, only that it allows a writer to introduce a particular character.
Previous entries include Jamie Maltman, E.W. Pierce, Stacy Claflin and Jessica Rydill, who introduced us to her character Yuda Vasilyevich before handing over the baton to me.
Jessica Rydill writes fantasy and collects Asian ball-jointed dolls. This makes her living room an unnerving place to visit.
Many of the dolls are based on characters from her books. The bad guys stay locked in the cabinet.
Jessica wishes she could write like Russell Hoban. In the mean time, she has got a crossover going on between mediaeval fantasy with warlords, and steampunk adventure with lightning-wielding shamans. Plus Golems, Dybbuks, Kabbalistic demons and other nasties from Jewish folklore.
1) What is the name of your character? Is she fictional or a historic person?
Her name is Holly di Marco and she’s entirely fictional.
2) When and where is the story set?
In the far off future during the dying days of the Fifth Human Empire.
3) What should we know about her?
Holly is a mercenary and has been one since she was eighteen (she’s twenty-one now).
Holly has had a hard life. Mercenary is actually the most respectable job she’s ever had. Before that, she was a small-time thief and con-artist and lucky enough never to get caught.
She was born on a planet she calls “a poisonous hellhole”. Holly ran away from home at fourteen and never talks about her life before that point. She still has nightmares about it, though.
At the moment, she’s in the employ of the Galactic Rebellion against the Fifth Human Empire. She joined in a rare fit of conscience, even though the pay isn’t all that good. But now Holly is beginning to regret that decision, because joining the Rebellion has put her in the crosshairs of the Empire. And even though the official line of the Rebellion is “Everybody is equal. Everybody matters”, those who joined the Rebellion for political reasons tend to look down on the mercenaries who joined for monetary reasons. Holly knows she shouldn’t really be upset about that, after all no one likes or trusts mercenaries. But she is.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?
There has never been a time, when Holly’s life wasn’t a mess. But what messes it up at the moment is actually one of the few good things she’s ever done, namely saving a life.
Because during a mission for the Rebellion, where she ended up guarding some service tunnels, while everybody else got to have the real fun, Holly rescued a traumatised young man from an Imperial death squad. This young man turns out to be Ethan Summerton, only survivor of an aristocratic family with rebel sympathies, and a rather important person for the Rebellion. Saving his life not only brings Holly to the attention of the rebel leaders, it also messes up her own life, when rebel leader Arthur Madden bullies Holly into taking care of Ethan, because – as they used to say on Old Earth – saving someone’s life means being responsible for him for the rest of your own.
Of course, Holly suspects that Arthur Madden just makes up those Old Earth sayings of his on the fly. Nonetheless, she’s now stuck with Ethan who seems to have imprinted on her like a baby duckling, not that Holly would know what that is. Nor does she really mind much, because Ethan and Holly quickly became fast friends.
Though Holly sometimes catches Ethan looking at her and suspects that he sees her as more than just a friend. And those are complications she really doesn’t need. Besides, there is also the little fact that the Empire wants them both dead.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
All Holly really wants out of life is a decent standard of living and reaching old age in good health and with all her limbs still attached or at least replaced by cyber-prosthetics. Unfortunately, she lives in a universe where even such commonplace desires can be almost impossible to achieve.
Holly is well aware that she can’t work as a mercenary forever. So she hopes to eventually promote herself to a desk job running her own mercenary company, together with her friend Carlotta and maybe Ethan. And someday, she might even have saved enough money to retire to a nice warm pleasure planet somewhere.
Family and a committed relationship are not in her plans for the future. Of course, the future doesn’t necessarily care about plans.
Even though she works for the Rebellion, Holly isn’t a particularly political person. She’s unhappy with the Empire and its unjust system, but then pretty much everybody is or at least everybody who doesn’t directly profit from the injustice of the system.
If you asked Holly what she hopes the Rebellion will achieve, she’d probably give you a vague answer along the lines of “Kill the Emperor” or “Burn it all down and start over”. She doesn’t have any particular ideas regarding what that starting over should look like.
Besides, Holly figures that it doesn’t really matter what she wants anyway. Because there is a big chance that she and everybody she cares about will get killed while fighting the good fight.
6) What is the title of the novel, and where can find out more?
It’s actually a series, the Shattered Empire series. The first book is called Mercy Mission. Further stories featuring Holly and Ethan are Seedlings and History Lesson. There is also a fourth book in the series called Debts to Pay, which stars Holly’s friend and fellow mercenary Carlotta Valdez. And there are more on the way.
7) When was the book published?
Mercy Mission was published in 2013. Seedlings, History Lesson and Debts to Pay were all published in 2014. So far the series is only available in e-book form at all the usual places, but print editions are forthcoming, as are further Shattered Empire stories.
That’s it from me. I’d have loved to show you what Holly looks like, but she’s not on any of the Shattered Empire covers to date (only Ethan and Carlotta are featured), probably because it’s difficult to find suitable SF stock art that doesn’t feature women in full fetish gear.
SB James, formerly of the (in)famous Jersey Shore and now a resident of Florida, has been writing since she was in seventh grade. She is currently working on the five (and a half) book Steampunk series The Inventor’s Son. She also dabbles in graphic design and artwork when she has the time, mostly in between chapters.