Last month, I introduced you all to Sunshield and one of it’s protagonists, Lark. But she’s not the only main character. The book is written in rotating perspective among three characters, and while it’s Lark who gives the book it’s name and muscle, there’s another narrator who might strike a chord with readers of the Creatures of Light trilogy. His name is Veran Greenbrier, and he’s the son of Mae, protagonist of my first book, Woodwalker.
Though... it could be said he takes after other members of his family.
In this month’s post, I’ll share a little bit about Veran’s character, his struggles, and his earliest sketches in my notebooks. For the sake of readers who haven’t yet read Woodwalker, I’m going to keep this post free of spoilers for the Creatures of Light trilogy. Readers already familiar with Mae will know Veran’s lineage and the kind of upbringing he had. Those not familiar… let’s go not so much with mama bear, but mama wolf, who cuddles her pups before leading them out to kill an elk and howl about how great her territory is.
See it all after the jump!
Though Sunshield was conceived back when I was still writing Ashes to Fire, Veran didn’t appear in my sketchbook until I was done with Creatures of Light two years later, mostly because that book had to undergo a complete rewrite and fundamentally changed his family dynamics. All his chapters in the early Sunshield manuscript were blank spaces, waiting to be filled in once I figured out what his mom was going to do in Creatures of Light. Almost the same day that I sent Creatures to my editor, two versions of Veran bloomed in full color, right next to a sketch of his mother and above a sketch of him placed alongside Lark for the first time.
When Sunshield was first announced, the pitch described a “desperate outlaw, a sheltered diplomat, and an imprisoned heretic on a quest to expose a system of corruption.” In that equation, Veran is the filling in the outlaw-heretic sandwich. When Sunshield begins, Veran is a thousand miles away from his home in the Silverwood Mountains, serving as a translator in the opulent palace of Moquoia. If this seems at odds with his upbringing as the son of woodsy, salt-of-the-earth Mae, don’t worry: it is, and it’s his most constant—but not only—source of anxiety.
Veran is the fourth of five siblings, all of whom already have a list of accomplishments to their names, including a brother who has almost earned his rank as Woodwalker, like their mother. Throughout Sunshield, Veran is dogged by his determination to make his mark amid his storied family. As he tells another character:
“It’s not so much that I want a victory to call my own, it’s that I don’t want a colossal failure.”
As events in Sunshield unfold, this fear drives him to take more and more risks, eventually leading him out of the palace and into the merciless Ferinno Desert, right to the point of the Sunshield Bandit’s sword.
As for what happens next... we'll have to wait for Sunshield's release on May 26--pre-order it to get it that day! And keep an eye out for an exclusive excerpt coming in March, and some advance copy giveaways—follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to get all the latest goodies! If you’d like to get to know Veran’s mother, Mae, check out Woodwalker (available through any major bookseller, but go here to buy it from my local indie; you can request a signed copy). Ashes to Fire and Creatures of Light will both be on sale over the next two months, so now is a great time to dive into this series. Or, as always, request them all from your local library!
January Art Roundup
A slew of commissions as I work to get through my queue before Sunshield promo amps up, though I did manage to do some sketches from some of my favorite childhood books that I'm now reading with my kids.
What I'm Reading:
Emily B. Martin
Author and Illustrator