Tomorrow, it will be a week since I published Gron’s Fated, but I was living with those characters for five months, and with Ruth and Gron for longer. I’m intrigued to see what people think of my Gandry tribe, and so far, most people hate Kranu. Well, he is the villain, but gosh, you just don’t know him like I do. Overall, responses to the book have been enthusiastically positive, and I’m blown away almost every day by new comments or new personal records being broken.
For example, Gron’s Fated sold more in two days than Ruth’s Bonded did in a month. Before Gron’s Fated came out, my personal record for most copies sold in a day was 32; now it’s 78. That same day, over 40,000 pages of my work were read. A Google search led me to discover that Gron’s Fated made it to at least 4th place (out of 20) on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Science Fiction Romance. If I had found that list sooner, it might have been higher up.
Thank you, everyone, for buying, reading, reviewing, commenting, and recommending my work. You have made this experience what it has been for me.
Anyway, below is a character study of the named cast. It might be a bit spoilery? I’ll be talking about Kranu and Troii, who will have bigger roles to play in the next book. This post is really just so I don’t disappear a week after I publish a book, since it’s going to be months before the next book comes out. I want to say something to reward everyone who has helped me sell Gron’s Fated beyond my wildest expectations. People have questions, and while I’m not ready to answer everything just yet, this might help keep debates informed.
Let’s start with our hero and heroine:
I wanted to make Ruth an audience-identifier character. She doesn’t get too much physical description. She was originally called Sue, as I’ve already said, and I wanted to give her a bit of a grandma, Plain Jane name, rather than some Kindle Romance heroines. She’s a temp because I had just got out of being a temp myself.
I’ve heard her called practical, but I wasn’t aware of that when I was writing. I think I just didn’t want her to get overwhelmed, and figuring out the next step is her coping mechanism. She thinks ahead to avoid thinking of the present. This means that sometimes she breaks down, but once she’s all cried out, she can get back to what she was doing.
Every now and then she’ll fight if she has to. She’s scrappy but she’s not aggressive. That being said, she will throw down for Gron. My thinking behind this is mostly, what else is she going to do? She’s under a lot of stress, Gron is her only friend, and I like the idea that the two of them are receiving social traits from the other through the Bond. I haven’t explored this in the books, so it’s not cannon, but I like to think Ruth is being made possessive and quick to violence because that’s what a Gandry Queen would be. Similarly, I like to think Gron’s monogamous feelings are because that is what a human man would be.
She misses home. She likes to have an exit strategy and think about how she could survive without Gron, because she’s really not thinking about how awful that would be. She greets every situation with “Okay, I can do this,” because everything is new and scary and dangerous. But she is not particularly delicate. She’s tough, but it would take a heavy toll to have to make the hard decisions. She’s ready to face anything, but having Gron to hold onto means that she’ll still be the same person on the other side. He’s her crutch, her shelter.
At this point, all she wants is to understand her surroundings, so she enjoys the peaceful domestic routine they enjoy when they split to form their own tribe. This allows her to start to slowly expand out from Gron’s protective shadow. She sits with his family and joins in with their tasks and learns what they know. Eventually, there’s no reason she won’t be a valued and equal member of the tribe, one of the family, instead of a stranger. Once she’s safe, she wants to knuckle down and get involved.
I’ve already explained why I designed Gron the way I did. The word I hear associated with him the most is definitely “sweet”, by a mile. I’ve also heard kind, thoughtful, and recently, submissive. A lot of that comes from his society; he’s been raised to do what a Queen tells him, to cherish her, to provide for and protect her if that’s what she needs, and to be honoured to be chosen to join her court. And that’s what he tries to do.
The fact that Ruth is human complicates this of course, because he can’t understand what she wants, and she expects a different dynamic than he does. He realises that she is not going to dominate him the way a Queen would, and that she can’t survive on her own, so he shoulders the responsibility of feeding her and protecting her. That in itself is not enough to make him possessive of her the way he is. As I said above, I like to think he’s receiving some human vibes through the Bond that they share, which, incidentally, may not be a real thing.
It might just be how the Gandry think of love. I don’t know. I kind of like the idea that the Gandry think of “The Bond” as this great, mythical, unbreakable, invincible force of destiny, when really, it’s just plain old love, same as what we human have, they just assign it much greater importance.
Either way, Ruth has become Gron’s whole world. It’s not like he has a job, or has to work hard at surviving. Without her, he would just be sitting around. Personal relationships are the closest the Gandry have to careers. By being chosen by a Queen, Gron is already successful, but his success is not assured, which is why he works so hard at it. The hard truth is, if it goes wrong with Ruth, it would be like being stuck in a job you hate or an unhappy marriage for the rest of his life, but he would be healthy at least. As you see in Gron’s Fated, a male without his Queen is a mess. Ruth has made Gron’s life worth living, and he adores her, more because of her differences than in spite of them, and he is very aware of how easy it would be to lose her and what would happen to him if he did. It makes him a little crazy, and it only really gets resolved when he throws off what his society taught him.
Kranu, Kranu, Kranu.
The main point of contention.
I wrote him to be a villain. In Ruth’s Bonded, the villains were the aliens who had taken them, rarely seen and usually covered up. They were nebulous and unknown and undefined. They were violent and malicious and obscure. No one had any idea what they were doing or why, or what their motivations were. With Kranu, the villain became personal, close to home. Gron’s brother.
He’s bigger than Gron. He’s older. He holds more sway in the tribe, because he’s intimidating and focused and vocal. He’s ambitious and clear-sighted and determined. He knows what he wants and boy, does he want it. His desire, envy, ambition, whatever, absolutely consumes him. This is typical villain stuff. This is threatening. A reined-in, targeted emotional force.
Before he was abducted, Gron was more aloof. He didn’t amount to much. He was loyal to Grasta, and was nice to people. He didn’t try very hard because there was nothing to try for. Kranu is a tryer.
Kranu is a male with more potential and drive than his society allows for. He wants to expend effort, he wants to achieve, and he wants recognition too. He wants to strain and be rewarded. He wants to be looked at. But he has no avenues to release this energy. He was not chosen by Grasta, so he has no role in the tribe, he is just spare. My editor called him a Slytherin, and that’s basically exactly what it is. He is bigger than the space he has been given. He could accomplish a lot of good if someone pointed him in that direction, but as it stands, he’s hit the glass ceiling, and the doors have been shut in his face, and that frustrates him to the point of rage.
All his swaggering, trying to do something, has made him unpopular. He does not act like he should, he is bad at being just another male tribe member. He is interfering and meddlesome and dominating. He uses his size to get what he wants and he is not afraid to fight – he likes to fight because it is strenuous and he is good at it and he wants to show off. He knows the others don’t like him and he thinks that’s unfair. In his eyes, the others are just reading him wrong. They are ignorant and slow and lazy. So he doesn’t mind fighting them if they don’t like him anyway. Kranu is a male without any friends in the tribe. Even his own parents think the worst of him, even though he doesn’t think he has done anything wrong. He thinks he is being treated unjustly.
And his relationship with Gron. Gron is not like him. Gron was like all the others, content. And Gron was popular. Everyone likes Gron and they let Kranu know it. Kranu has been jealous of Gron since the day he was born, because he had the undivided attention of three parents and then suddenly had to share it. As children, Gron was the good one, well-behaved, polite, calm, well-liked. Whenever Kranu tried to take a step out of bounds to see what was out there, he was told “Why can’t you be more like Gron?” So he picked on Gron, bullied him, started fights, ignored him, anything to bring his brother low and reassure himself that he was better. Kranu did what he did best to prove to himself at least that he was strong and skilled, and Gron was weak, a coward, out of control. But it only made things worse and this cycle dug deep trenches of hate between the brothers that they couldn’t overcome as adults. The pattern remained, Kranu starting fights, Gron losing, Kranu coming out the bad guy. Until Ruth gave Gron a reason to fight, and win.
And doesn’t that just take the biscuit. Gron, his little brother, who never tried at anything and yet everyone preferred, disappears, is assumed to be a wandering, lustful traitor, and then comes back. With a Queen. A strange one, yes, but one who clings to him in front of the whole tribe and looks at him like he is the strongest male in the universe. Kranu has wanted to be chosen for years, to finally attain some rank and have something to dedicate himself too, but there was no way, no Queen he could offer himself to. Grasta did not want him. To admit that he wanted another Queen to Bond him was foul treachery, leaving the tribe to look for one would have blackened his name.
But here is another Queen. Possibly his only opportunity. Yes, his odious brother would be his brother-mate, but he could live with that. They are brothers anyway, and he can best him in a fight to get his own way. All he knows is that the churning ocean of loneliness and frustrated potential that has been building over the years has taken his choice away from him. So he says things he shouldn’t say and doesn’t really mean, but he is hit with such longing when he sees Gron with Ruth that he can’t stop himself. All he wants is to touch someone like that, be touched like that, be loved like that, and not derided or turned away.
It’s just his bad luck that Ruth is monogamous. Gron struck gold with that one. It’s an unworkable situation and Kranu finally is forced to leave the tribe, to seek his own happiness. He has a very slim chance of finding it, but having the personality he does, he will face forward and run it down.
Where Kranu is physical, Troii is emotional. Kranu’s defining characteristic is ambition. Troii can be summed up by emotional intelligence. He is called wise in the book, but really, he is just especially adept at understanding other people’s points of view. It is the reason he is one of the few people who can get on with Kranu. He grew up in the same tribe as Kranu, and understands him very well. Both Kranu and Gron are totally immersed in their own desires that they can’t see out of them, but Troii can. He can see that Gron is being hurtful as much as he is trying to do good, and he can see that Kranu is not evil as much as he is doing harm.
Troii was like Gron, content to be just another tribe male. He doesn’t need very much to be happy. He loves Grasta in his own way, and is faithful to her, and his life was idyllic before Ruth came. his life was simple and calm. Then Gron offered him more and suddenly he wondered. He had always been a tribe male and so he never let himself think very much about what he wanted, what he should have. Thinking about becoming Bonded was the first dark little worm of self-interest and curiosity that had really penetrated his mind in his adult life and he couldn’t get it out again. Who knows what starts the Bonding process? Maybe just thinking about it is enough, and Troii and Kranu both have incomplete, unfulfilled Bonds torturing them, something Kranu has been struggling with for years.
Now that he is wandering with Kranu, he’s a mess. Everything he knows about himself has changed. He’s a traitor to the tribe now. A criminal. He doesn’t have the tribe anymore, and it’s because of his best friend, a kind and gentle male. He feels betrayed by Gron and scared of the future and desperate to find a place to belong. His need for a social group is stronger than average. He also has to temper Kranu while not getting under the other male’s feet. Troii is like Kranu’s Jimminy Cricket, if Jimminy Cricket needed Pinocchio to survive.
When they stumble upon another Queen, Troii sees an opportunity, just like Kranu does, but he also sees a threat. If Kranu Bonds with this Queen, he might chase Troii off. Troii can’t let that happen. He will have to navigate this situation very carefully.
I think that’s enough for now, this post grew longer than expected. I’ll do another one soon for Grasta, Gryla, Griss, Brur and Mruin.