Continuing my relentless exploration of the men in my books... and how they developed into the pain-in-the-patootie hunk-muffins that they are... I'm going to let you all get up close and personal with a secondary character that many of you [according to your drooling emails] have found irresistible, in spite of the fact that he has six fingers on each hand, webbing between his fingers, and has gills.
Yes, cupcakes, that's right. Ren, from GABRIEL'S GHOST. The 6’ 5” tall, blue haired, alien Stolorth guy who is [and I have a feeling this is part of the big attraction here] a virgin.
As some of you know, GABRIEL'S GHOST originally started out as a short story entitled FEAR. ANYWAY, GABRIEL'S was initially simply a meeting between two long time enemies who'd eventually become lovers: Captain Chasidah 'Chaz' Bergren, and Gabriel Ross 'Sully' Sullivan. But everytime I wrote about Sully (another major pain-in-the-patootie hunk muffin), I kept 'seeing' the shadow of someone by his side.
That someone, I knew rather quickly, was Frayne Ackravaro Ren Elt.
A snippet from my May 2000 working notes as I began to plot out GABRIEL'S GHOST:
[SNIP]...Chaz accompanies Sully after agreeing to work with him. She meets with two others -- convicts like herself. One non human. They go to the shuttleport. Most obvious place for an escape and that's why Sully works out of there. So obvious no one thinks to look. Supply shuttles come irregularly from a nearby Station. Personnel/prisoner transports, too. He utilizes certain supply shuttles.
Sully and Chaz adopt the garb of Avarian monk/nun. He finds a perverse humor in this. 'Brother Sudral' and his acolyte, 'Sister Berry'. The other human convict is well known as 'Guardian Drogue' -- Chaz has seen him twice before, never knowing he was locating her for Sully. Drogue will return to Moabar often, accompanies them only to the Station.
The non-human is a blind Stolorth; a thickly muscled male of indeterminate age. Six fingered - webbed. Gill slits. His name is Frayne Ackravaro Ren Elt. He has very long silvery blue hair, worn plaited back in a braid. Stolorths are aquatic but can live for up to 48 hours out of a hydro-environment. Clearly Sully doesn't like him but he needs him. The Stolorth worked for the Labor Ministry as an Mediation Empath. Ren was privvy to several illegal negotiations by the Labor Ministry -- exporting and importing of slave labor. Perhaps illegal breeding of slaves with genetically defective mentalities. Ren 'knows where the bodies are hidden'... [END SNIP]
These are WORKING NOTES, kidlings. Ideas jotted down as to where I thought the chapter MIGHT go. Obviously, those of you who've read GABRIEL'S GHOST see that while I had Ren's name and description correct, I had his occupation totally wrong.
These things happen. Characters often play hide and seek with an author, and it wasn't until I began to actually write the chapter that Ren revealed himself to me.
One scene that did make it from my original working notes into the final book was the scene where Ren, blind, 'sees' Chaz's face by touching her. My original working notes state:
[SNIP] ...Ren's empathic abilities help steer them clear of those prison admin who might be suspicious. Chaz senses that Sully dislikes the fact that Ren's abilities are helpful. Ren is solicitious if not a bit curious about Chaz. He hasn't had much experience with human females.
On the supply shuttle, accomodations are cramped for the 8-hour trip. Ren's innocent curiousity amuses Chaz -- reminds her of her young half-brother -- and annoys Sully. He 'sees' her by touching her face, which really annoys Sully... [END SNIP]
However, one scene that did NOT make it into the final book called GABRIEL'S GHOST is Ren's death. Yes, sweetlings, in the first draft of the book, Ren was killed near the end of the book, as Sully and Chaz fight the bad guys on Marker. I thought it would be a good catalyst for Sully to reveal his 'secret' to Chaz (and for those of you who've NOT read the book, I'm not going to discuss any further what that secret is). However, the reaction of my crit partners to Ren's death was LOUD, IMMEDIATE AND THREATENING. So I had to do a bit of rewriting... with a few cyber-guns pointed at my blonde head.
In any event, to answer the emails that I've received about Ren, yes, he gets his own book. The immediate sequel to GABRIEL'S GHOST is CHASIDAH'S CHOICE, release date late 2007 or early 2008. I’d love to follow that with a series called DOCK FIVE—no promises right now. But if I do, Ren's own story will either be one of the DOCK FIVE books, or perhaps a stand alone. Not sure at this point, other than I DO know who his lady love is, and who eventually takes his virginity. Sigh. So you can all stop sending me bribe money. No, you cannot get in a hot tub with Ren!
Well, actually, one of you on the list will, because that person on this list is the creator of Ren's lady love, Lt. Kahri Beckert.
Here's a section of her short vignette she emailed me that convinced me she'd created the woman Ren would eventually, completely love:
[SNIP] ...Kahri stripped out of her battle uniform, zipped herself into the form fitting gray utility water suit and stepped into the sani-stall. She rolled her shoulders, then braided her hair while the quick-drying mist sprinkled over her. Grabbing a thick woolen robe used for both a cover-up and to dry off after a hot soak, she hit the palm pad on the thick steel doors leading to the hydro spa. She padded barefoot over to one of the cushioned benches, dropped the robe across it and turned toward the heated pool. Frozen in place, Kahri watched the lithe, muscular figure gliding effortlessly through the water, his loose-fitting blue swim shorts billowing around his slim hips. Ren. As he came to the end closest to where she was, he stood, wrung out his long, blue-tinted hair, pausing mid-twist. Nostrils flared, head tilted toward her, he appeared to be inhaling the very scent of her. A shiver of apprehension raced up her spine. Kahri didn't want anything to do with this alien creature - a member of a race that had destroyed her family.
"Kahri". The low, sultry voice wrapped around her like silken threads of the finest made cocoon. He held out a hand, palm up, beckoning, daring her to come closer. She would not. She could not. She did... [END SNIP]
As I said, the above was written by one of Ren's fans and emailed to me. So beware when you befriend an author... you never know where you, or one of your imaginary characters, will show up and be brought to life.