Beautiful People: Raymond

It has just occurred to me that God of Wind and Fire has come a long way from its original purpose as a fun, swashbuckling frolic of a break from my 'serious writing'. I've already got a blood feud, a battle, and slavery...and I'm only on chapter 12. My main concern now is how to handle these very real but also fairly dark themes in a way that won't cause unnecessary trauma to potential readers. I have no wish to wallow about in darkness, but I have realized that, especially in the context of this book, it is necessary to be honest about what darkness does to people, both on individual and societal levels. We can't get properly excited about Light until we have some idea of the depths of the darkness from which the Light sets us free. That being said, I'm very excited to finally be getting to the place in God of Wind and Fire where I can begin writing the story of one of the book's agents of Light.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
Source
"I wonder at times if I would have been so certain of my calling had I known what would befall me when I pursued it. I had visions of hardship, and even, I shall admit, of a martyr's death. But this life! Can I even call 'living' an existence which is, for me, a constant death? My courage fails me, and my resolve is put daily to the hardest of tests. I may even admit, sometimes, to being at the point of despair. I have no friend in whom I may confide, and I am often impressed to the depths of my being by the complete loneliness of my state. I am broken in body and soul, and all my highest resolves and aspirations are gone away. I pray simply for the strength to forgive these cruel masters who make my life a daily torment with their strange, harsh words and quick tempers. 

This is a wild land to which I have been taken; a land of fierce winds and bitter cold. My various discomforts here have been too many to number - of cold, of hunger, of deprivation, of bodily injury and of mental agonies - but I would gladly suffer these and more could I be certain that I suffered for the cause of Christ. Were I certain that I was not abandoned here at the furthest fringes of civilization, did I have faith enough that this was all some part of the Divine plan, I truthfully believe that I would be content...that I could even learn to love these masters. Is it faithless of me to ask for a sign? For some small token that I am not abandoned and that there is a Purpose in this endless torment?

My God, my God! Hast Thou forsaken me? I am sore beset and my heart and flesh are faint, yet I believe...help Thou my unbelief."

-Raymond


Questions from the March edition of Beautiful People:

  • What first inspired this character? Is there a person/actor you based them off? I knew from fairly early on in the writing process that I was going to need some sort of a monk missionary character. Probably my earliest inspiration for him was the description (from the point of view of another character) as 'a strange-seeming man dressed in shabby, faded brown.' Undoubtedly, the stories of Patrick of Ireland and of some of the earliest missionaries to the Native Americans inspired the character of Raymond.
  • Describe their daily routine. Raymond is the slave of one of the leaders of the clan of the Horse People. He mostly spends his day doing whatever his master tells him to do, whether that be cooking or helping to look after the livestock.
  • What is one major event that helped shape who they are? Raymond's decision to join a religious brotherhood obviously had a profound impact on his life, as did his obedience to a missionary calling. Getting captured and sold into slavery wasn't exactly what he was expecting, but it will become one of the most pivotal events of his life.
  • What things do they value most in life? Hope, faith, and obedience. After that, probably food and a warm place to sleep.
  • Do they believe in giving other people second chances? Do they have any trust issues? His masters don't make it easy for him, but Raymond tries his best to love and forgive those who abuse him. 
  • Your character is having a rough day...what things do they do to make them happy again? Aiming for happiness is probably, in Raymond's case, aiming a bit far from the mark. But he does sustain himself through prayer and through meditating on the Scriptures and the liturgies that he learned at the monastery. 
'From the corner of her eye, she noticed another wood-gatherer; a strange-seeming man dressed in shabby, faded brown. He might once have been straight and tall, but now his shoulders were slumping in weariness. His face and arms were burned and scarred by the wind, but the rest of his skin, as revealed in the places where his robe shifted to his movements, was pale. There was mild humility in his carriage. He did not seem to belong to a world of horses and grass and men going to war, but to somewhere foreign and unreachably far away. The man caught her look and a kindliness - almost a smile - flickered across his face.'
- God of Wind and Fire

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