Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Will the real Rena please stand up?

There seems to be a bit of a hullabaloo of late about the character Rena in The Light of Asteria. Some keep comparing her to Alice in the Twilight series. While there are some similarities, I honestly didn't think about them when writing the book.

You see, Rena is based on a my best friend of some 20+ years. I first met Rena (whom the rest of the world knows as Corina) when she crashed a party I was throwing in college. She was 17 at the time and had done drum corp that summer with some friends of mine. She was down from Chicago visiting, and the first thing I noticed about her was her fierceness. I'm not even sure she reached 5 feet, but she gave the impression that she could take on the entire Alabama offensive line and pummel them to the ground. She was tan with big brown eyes, and her short hair spiked beneath a tam (which was popular head wear at the time) reminded me of one of those kids who sold papers on the street corners during the depression.

Her life had been tough early on, but her intelligence combined with a fair amount of street smarts gave her an edge over just about anyone I knew. She had a freakish instinct, could read people within five minutes of meeting them, and had a warrior's heart in a dancer's body. When she smiled she lit up the room, and her laugh literally bubbled around her. To this day, every time she laughs I can't help but laugh with her.

Imagine the combination. This instinctual-fierce-warrior-take-no-prisoner-dancer-who-personifies-joy. If that's not fodder for a great character then I don't know what is. And so when I started Asteria, I knew Rena had to be in there.

As for her "Jasper" brown eyes (which, for those of you who don't know was Alice's husband's name), Asteria, and Keepers for that matter, is chocked full of symbolism. I know, most of it is a party in my head and most people will never pick up on it, but I can't help it. I love symbolism.

Jasper is one of the twelve sacred stones in the Bible. It was on Aaron's breastplate of judgement, made after Moses came from the Mountain of God. The Bible references jasper as meaning "glory of God ... symbolic of brightness and beauty". It's also the first stone set at the new foundation wall meant to serve as protection in Revelations 21. Between the real Corina's brown eyes and the biblical description of protection, beauty, wrath, and judgement of the biblical jasper, it just seemed the perfect fit. That's why Rena's eyes are jasper.

The first time Corina read the story she was, understandably, a little freaked out. But, as her usual way of handling things, she embraced the idea of the character, grabbed hold of the dream with both hands, and encouraged me to publish.

Rena and I talk everyday. It's been her tenacity that has seen me through the worst times and that has encouraged me to stay positive. She is one of the main reasons I found the strength to share my work and to open up to the possibilities of living and authentic life.

I'm so blessed to call her my best friend.