Miri helps Gerti: Miri has this fierce sense of justice, of right and wrong, and here’s an instance when it gets her into trouble. This character trait/flaw is one I’m intimately familiar with.
Page 54: Miri speaks out and gets them all punished. This scene was tricky and took many attempts, partly because it has such lasting consequences. I feel for Miri here! She means well, but the outcome is not what she expects. Was she right to speak out? Better to follow the rules? I don’t think that everything a main character does has to be the right choice, and I don’t want any of my stories insisting that there’s only one right way to do anything. Her actions here were true to her character and moved the story along, but I don’t know if she acted well or not. There are many events like this one in the book. What I hope for my readers is not that they try to model their own behavior after any character, but that the actions of a character help them think through things and decide perhaps what they would do, figure out what they believe about things.
Miri’s character: I feel like I was kind of lazy when I started writing this book and made Miri a lot like myself. As her character was forming on the page through the action, I let her react as it felt natural to me, let her relationships form as I remembered mine from that age. This made her character trickier rather than easier to write. It’s hard to be objective about yourself! Again, figuring her out took many drafts.
“Miri thought she understood how a lost goat would feel on meeting a pack of wolves.”: Everything in the book is pushed through Miri’s own experience. Although it’s a third person narrator (says “she” instead of “I”) and uses words in ways Miri might not, still, every simile, metaphor, analogy, etc., must be one in Miri’s realm of experience, and since she’s spent her life isolated on a mountain top, that experience is narrow. So, a lot of goat metaphors. Writing this book, I grew very fond of goats.
Page 58: Another trait Miri and I share--trying to make people laugh. How many times have I said something I thought was funny and no one agreed! I feel for you, Miri, darling.
Academy princess: Miri has a goal! It’s important for the main character to have something they desire. There were many things she longed for back home--to be useful, to be sure of her pa’s love, Peder--but here’s where she first names something she’ll strive for there at the academy.
Laura asks: "what part of Miri's story came to you first?" The general concept came first, the idea of a village where one girl might be chosen as the next princess. The characters and why the story mattered to them came through the process of writing.
Sally asks: "I've often wondered when reading PA if you did research on stone cutting, working in a quarry and stone in general to write this book?" Yes indeed, I did as much research as I could, and as usual with research, ended up only using a fraction of what I learned. For a while there, I felt like an expert in marble and granite quarrying!
Katie asks: "Did you do very much research in your first draft or did you just write and then research?" I do minimal research before beginning, write the first draft or two, and then do more intensive research, so that I already know what I'm looking for. I like the story to lead the research, not the other way around. I know other writers research in different ways.