A desperate outlaw. A sheltered diplomat. An imprisoned heretic. If you’ve been following my blog posts over the past few months, you know we have one more Sunshield protagonist to meet. I’ve introduced you to Lark, the dreaded Sunshield Bandit, and Veran Greenbrier, the earnest court translator. The final cog in this trio is Tamsin Moropai—poet, musician, and the epicenter of an ambitious political coup.
I was worried about Tamsin before I started writing her, and it was for the same reason other characters in the book are worried about her—for most of the plot, she’s trapped within four walls. Rather than being concerned for her physical wellbeing, though, I was worried that placed next to the action- and dialogue-packed POVs of Lark and Veran, her story wouldn’t hold up. It’s difficult to write a captive character and still give them agency and intrigue—I learned this lesson while writing Ashes to Fire. For a while, I put off writing her chapters simply because I was worried she’d be… boring.
Man, was I wrong.
Tamsin is a perfect example of how characters can surprise their authors with their personalities. Originally, I’d thought Lark would be the snarky one and Tamsin more introspective. But it was Tamsin who emerged with a streak of stubborn, spite-based humor, while Lark faced her own dire consequences with a more serious outlook. Right from the gate, Tamsin fought for every ounce of relevancy and agency in her tiny prison. She grabbed her predicament with both hands and a delightfully wry interior voice, forcing her bad situation to bend to her will.
Tamsin also provided me with much of the important symbolism throughout the book. Being a poet, she wrings meaning from the details of her limited surroundings—the subtle shift of colors in the sky, a rainstorm, the bats that swarm outside her tiny window each night. If Lark and Veran provide the action and exposition of the story, Tamsin weaves those threads together into something bigger and weightier than the other two protagonists realize.
Her chapters revolve around the mysteries of her captivity: who planned the brutal attack on her coach? Who is levering her as blackmail? And who, inside the glittering, powerful Moquoian court, is actually a traitor in disguise?
So there are our three protagonists of Sunshield. Lark, the titular outlaw, world-weary and sharp-edged. Veran, son of the Silverwood's most famous Woodwalker, with everything to prove. And Tamsin, captive political revolutionary, who unknowingly pulls her two fellow protagonists together.
I hope you've enjoyed meeting these three characters. Stay tuned, as always, for lots more goodies as we get closer to Sunshield's release. Like what you've seen so far? Click the banner below to pre-order the book!
Draw this in your style challenge!
There's just under one week left to enter the DTIYS challenge to win a copy of Woodwalker! To enter and see more details, hop over to Instagram!
February art Round-Up
A lot of book fan art, including some childhood favorites that I recently read to my kids and Samantha Shannon's The Priory of the Orange Tree, plus a ToonMe portrait challenge.
Emily B. Martin
Author and Illustrator