Wednesday, 22 May 2013

On Characterization in Kiya

Still on this writing kick of mine I scooped up the lovely Katie Hamstead to talk about her book "Kiya" and creating characters based on real people.

Take it away Katie....

Oh yes, Kiya. Make him love you, make him hold you in his highest regard....
When Naomi’s sisters are snatched up to be taken to be wives of the erratic Pharaoh, Akhenaten, she knows they won’t survive the palace, so she offers herself in their place. The fearsome Commander Horemheb sees her courage, and knows she is exactly what he is looking for…

The Great Queen Nefertiti despises Naomi instantly, and strips her of her Hebrew lineage, including her name, which is changed to Kiya. Kiya allies herself with Horemheb, who pushes her to greatness and encourages her to make the Pharaoh fall in love with her. When Akhenaten declares Kiya will be the mother of his heir, Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Kiya.

 Kiya must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. If she does bear an heir, she knows she will need to fight to protect him, as well as herself, from Nefertiti who is out for blood.

The characters in Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh were different with the way I needed to create them than ‘normal’ fiction characters. Because they were all based on real people, I need to research them first. Each character had varied opinions on what happened to them, even around events which were certain. So, I built a timeline of events using the theories I chose to construct the story, then interpreted the characters personalities on my own.

The main character, Kiya, although historically believed to be a Mitanni princess, I wanted to make a Hebrew. Yes, I took liberties with history, but I chose for my interpretation to be a Hebrew for the virtues her race and religion embraced which were different from other cultures at the time, it is ultimately, fiction. I wanted her to be someone who understood the perverted nature of the Egyptian royals, and was able to step in and protect her family from that life while still being able to survive it herself.
The whole story itself is based around this characterization. The others fell into place around her as she saw them. Nefertiti, her rival and persecutor, Horemheb the cunning and calculating commander of the army, the fiery princess of Persia Mordad, and Malachi the unassuming and gentle guard.
Akhenaten though was a character who took his own platform. He was someone whom history seems to have a wide variety of idea about. But I wanted to make him human. Although deformed and teetering on the edge of madness, I wanted to make him brilliant, aware and like so many hieroglyphic depict, gentle.
I spent a long time reading about them to try to get a feel for what they maybe would have been like. I also had to get my head out of the modern world and see life through a different time to gain clarity on how they’d each react to things which nowadays are completely unacceptable, but were normal then.
All in all, it was a long process to create the clarity in my mind for each of them. But I believe worth the effort as each came alive to me, and I hope to those who read the book too.

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