Sometimes, I wonder how much of a hand I actually had in the creation of some of my characters.
Let me tell you about Floerian Silverstring.
It started with Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve played the game for 14 years. Over ten years ago, I created a bard character called Floerian Silverstring for a particular game. He with a bit of a swashbuckler-type, with the flair and flamboyance. This part of his character came from his namesake, a hare called Florian from the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. My Floerian’s main gimmick was that he wore outrageous clothing — every piece a different colour. The main one was the bright orange feather that he always keeps in his hat — a nod to a character called Simkin in the Dark Sword trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Simkin was, as I recall, a bit of a goofball who knew more than he let on, and always had some orange on him somewhere (he was a shapeshifter). This leant some more inspiration to Floerian’s character.
At some point, Floerian started collecting titles. I think he would normally introduce himself as Floerian Silverstring, Humble Bard of Great Renown (my grade 5 mind thought this was a brilliant oxymoronic joke, and truthfully, it fits the character). Then in the course of the D&D game, he was granted a formal title, so he tacked that on the end of his introduction. Then he started picking up any titles he could get his hands on, legitimate or not.
“Floerian Silverstring is my name. Humble Bard of Great Renown, Wearer of Bright Colours and New Fashions, Player of Flute and Lute, Actor of the League of Theore, Writer for the Free Times, Lover of Music and Women, and Flamboyant Travelling Minstrel Extraordinaire.” He struck a jaunty pose.
—The Nexus, draft 1
Those are but a few.
One other thing that came from the D&D game was that Floerian would tell fairy-tale-type stories about a chicken named Biggles, who was a famed adventurer.
That D&D game didn’t last too long after Floerian joined, but the character stayed in my mind. A year or two later, I started playing EverQuest — and though my main character was a high elven enchanter named Uuloui (another character of mine who’s taken on a life of his own, though he’s basically me in most ways), at some point I created an alternate character — a half-elven bard named Floerian.
There’s a lot that could be said against EverQuest, but I was lucky enough to find a group of steadfast roleplayers, so when I played as Floerian, I played in-character. It was here that Floerian really came into his own, getting to play his off a whole bunch of other people, gaining new quirks and everything. His colourful costume inspired a satirical news story in which peasants were blinded by his passage, he engaged in the occasional pun-off with others, became the Herald of the guild but was always late answering the door, and everyone was either greatly amused or greatly annoyed by his titles, with which he announced his arrival to the whole guild every time he signed on.
This of course rocketed him into immortality in my mind. He appeared in half a dozen other D&D games in brief cameos, each time with new titles (and different stats). He had a knack for ridiculous diplomacy and bluffs, convincing homicidal cultists to help him rather than fighting them. His colours and antics are legends amongst those circles of friends that have encountered him.
And then, when I started writing The Nexus as a novel, somewhere in my planning stages I realized that here, I had the perfect opportunity not only to reuse this character, but to finally canonize him, maybe even bring him to the general YA reading public, drop him on an unsuspecting world. So I did. And in the course of my planning for the novel, I came to realize just how much I could use this character, and The Nexus became something of his story — though not with him as the protagonist.
As I explored what I could do with his origins, I made some decisions that I realized helped explain why he is the way he is — even though he’s always just been that way.
Somewhere along the way, I began to wonder just how much of his character I actually had a part in creating. He’s grown beyond the context of his origins, beyond the text. He has a life of his own. His scenes write themselves.
I’m working on the second draft of The Nexus right now. Every page is riddled with green pen — except the scene with him.
Floerian Silverstring has become so much more than his original incarnation, so much more than the characters on which he was originally based. He’s so large in my mind, so real–
…and now, hopefully, soon, he will find his way out into the world, and I can share him with you.
Don’t be intimidated by his introduction. He’s really quite nice.