Memorial Day Tribute

On this Memorial Day I hope everyone takes the time to remember all those who sacrificed their well-being and even lives for us here in America. I have a great deal of respect for the armed forces; something I hope has made it through in Night Hawk.

I’ve been asked if the war I wrote is in any way a parallel to our own current conflicts. The short answer is: No. I am not in any way trying to make a statement about any of our conflicts past or present. The longer answer is, yes, there are parallels – just not the way people think when they ask me.

People have always fought over what they feel is rightfully theirs. They fight for power, they fight for vengeance and they fight for the protection of their own. This is seen on both sides of the Vairdec War in Night Hawk. But I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to show the struggle and sacrifice of those who chose to stand up against a force bent on their destruction. It’s not an easy thing to write, since everyone responds differently to the trials they face. However, after watching and listening to numerous accounts from actual members of the military, I feel as if I have been able to at least touch on the complicated emotions faced. I’ve been pleased that the response to the book from those involved in the armed forces has been positive. My desire is to always show respect for the reality of those facing war.

It’s been an interesting journey to get Night Hawk to where it is today. I’ve had the chance to learn more about what our soldiers go through and have gained a great deal of respect for them. I admit the Earthenian military does not match that of the USA – as it should not. However, as the writer it has been educational, even enjoyable, playing the strategist and implementing what I’ve learned in my writing. With the third book dealing with the post-war and inevitably the post-traumatic stress involved, I hope I can continue to show respect where respect is due.

Here is to all those that served and are serving – your dedication is not going unnoticed. Thank you.

What’s In a Character

Of all the characters in the Night Hawk world, only four were around in its humble beginnings: David, Darkracer, Mike and maybe to your surprise, Dr. Juliana Meranser. Two of the other original characters will join in upcoming books. The rest developed throughout the years and even decades. And despite when they arrived on the scene, they all have evolved, some dramatically. Okay, some of you might not believe in evolution and I’m not one to argue, but when it comes to stories and their characters, yes, evolution exists.

Darkracer was originally a horse, no different than what we have here on Earth. He wouldn’t stay quiet, though, so later became a special talking horse. For a long time he remained more horse than anything – even to wearing a bit (“all forbid”). Finally he bucked all that and became a Candonian. Mike has also seen changes, though maybe not as dramatic. He has always been the good-natured, friendly type, but for a while he had a rougher side that rebelled quite openly with the military. (Apparently Riechet drilled that out of him.)

Amber came six years into the world’s deßvelopment and was much younger – being the teenage daughter of the deceased, yes deceased, Kyler Riechet. David cared for her as an adopted big brother. It was Black Ice, not Phantom, who was closely associated with her, being nothing but a horse much like Darkracer. When Amber “grew up”, Black Ice grew younger, once being completely removed from the stories before coming back in, Battle Cries.

As for the rest… Kailyn has grown more mature and professional from her original, sassy, girl-with-attitude beginnings. Keven came into existence (as one of the most recent characters) evolving from an obscure detective friend of David’s simply known as Detective Brenner. Toodat, Yehgrett, Jylin and De’oolay all came onto the scene at about the same time, though each had to work their way through many versions to get to where they are today. Lash was actually the first alien to join, being more or less a humanoid cat. Some of that can still be seen in him to this day.

Then there’s Nathaniel Darson. With the various versions of the early books he swung most dramatically of any character to the extremes of personality. At first he was a playful, fun-loving prankster with a friendly, bubbly personality. While some characters found him exasperating at times, everyone liked him and he made friends easily. At this time he and Amber were part of a spin-off series and the two were actually dating. What?! Yep, Nathan and Amber were teenage boyfriend and girlfriend. Meanwhile, a character with just the opposite personality to Nathan was making his way onto the scene as a jealous opponent to David. When that character and his subplot storyline proved to complicate the series, he was given the “ax”. As the spin-off merged with the growing story of a war involving the Vairdec, the personalities of Nathan and the “axed” character blended. After several tweaks, Nathan as we know him today, came into being.

Even the Vairdec have evolved – probably the most dramatically when it comes to physical form. Like Amber, they didn’t come into play until six years into the Night Hawk stories. When they made their first appearance, they were hideous, fearsome creatures with fangs and tentacles on their heads. Ever one to try doing things a little differently, I began removing the typical fierce bad-guy features. A thick black mane replaced the tentacles. The fangs grew smaller and eventually disappeared all together. I then began to think, why do bad guys have to look ugly? What if they are a very beautiful species? So, that’s what I did – made them elegant and beautiful (at least by Human standards).

Only one seems to have changed little over the years – David himself. There were times I tried to change his personality to fit the early versions of Night Hawk. He was an eager-fighter, a joker and even arrogant for a while, but nothing I tried ever stuck. David is David – a deeply intellectual and even deeper feeling person with a great deal of compassion for life. He shows skill and courage when needed but is never boastful. Sometimes his compassion creates personal struggles and he doesn’t always have it together, but even when he wants to give up, he ultimately finds himself unable to stand down from doing what is right. As far as I’m concerned, he’s what a true hero looks like, and I have no intention of changing that.

Hawk ‘n Hawks

As a native to the Seattle area, I have inevitably joined the rallying cry of the “Twelfth Man”. I find it interesting that my home team and my novels share the name of Hawk, which I assure you is not connected in any way. However, it does make me look at this latest development in the Seahawk’s journey from the perspective of Night Hawk. Both the team and my characters have had a lot to overcome. On Telamier, the Humans are not a major player, and while they’ve shown their qualities, many other species view them as lesser in strength and significance. Through perseverance and devotion to each other, Humans prove otherwise – much like the Seahawks have over these past years.

Like the team, David Malard has had some remarkable victories, but as with all things in life, has had to deal with the failures and disappointments as well. As I’ve written these past two stories, I’ve learned that it is through these low times that the true spirit of the character shines. Defining moments come from the decisions made when everything goes against you. For David, he has learned what it means to take a stand in these dark times. He has overcome personal loss, guilt and hopelessness, realizing his own strength through the courage found to face each challenge.

It makes me proud to hear how the Seahawks have responded to the disappointment of losing the Super Bowl. The battle was hard fought, and for the moment it has not swung in their favor. However, they stand by each other and look to the future with confidence. It is a trait I have seen develop within the Humans of Telamier, which gives them the strength to face overwhelming odds – standing by each other and never giving up.

I believe this Super Bowl loss is a more defining moment for Washington than last years’ victory. How are we going to choose to respond? Will we stand proudly together, or fall apart? Will we support or give up on our team? This very well could be our greatest hour. And as Darkracer stated, “We can’t wait for the perfect time to live our lives. Otherwise we lose a great deal of what it means to live.”

So What’s Up With…?

As I am beginning to get the question of “so what about…?”, I’m going to try and set some things straight right away. Yes, I know there are some things mentioned in the first book that are not dealt with in great detail. There’s a reason for this – Night Hawk is a series. Not everything can be revealed in the first book. The swords (Norian Blades) are touched on, but you may have noted that there is a great deal left unsaid. Yes, I do know their full history, so this is not an excuse to something I have not developed great detail on. An upcoming book (either book four or five), The Blades of Norian, is dedicated to giving the full story of the swords (as the title obviously suggests). So if you’re wondering why the blades are never brought together in a museum or who exactly is Norian, just wait. The answers might surprise you.

The Assassin is another point only briefly touched on. I know there isn’t much on him in the first book and absolutely none in the second, but this isn’t his story – it’s David’s. So while this mysterious killer is essential as a catalyst in the beginning, he has no real importance during the war. Sorry. Don’t worry, though. For anyone intrigued by this character, I assure you he will come back into play. This also goes for San Terres, which was actually the original main setting for the series and will be again in book three.

And then there’s David’s past and the reason behind the whole hawk theme. Yes, this is important and will be revealed slowly as needed. Hey, if David’s not ready to tell the people in his life, he’s certainly not going to tell his readers. Blades of Norian will most likely be the biggest game changer. And the gates? Well, they’re still around but not much is known about them among those on Telamier… yet.

– Jolene Loraine

Moot Bolarda!

As we enter the wonderful holiday season of Christmas one might ask, “Do they celebrate Christmas on Telamier?” Why yes, yes they do.

Christmas on Telamier is a bit different than the traditions we’re use to. It is not filled with the presents and feasts and parties we all know. In fact, Christmas is a one-day affair that remains in large part a holiday for those of the Christian faith. Yes, Christianity made it to Telamier with a missionary couple. For Humans, it is the most prominent faith recognized, though many do not follow. Those that do set aside the darkest day of the year as Christmas, where they have a special service and lighting ceremony to represent Christ’s coming to bring light into the darkness of the world. It ends with a feast and the singing of traditional carols.

So what about the holiday traditions we know and love? That all happens during the most widespread celebration on Telamier – Bolarda. Bolarda takes place on the last nahm of the year, Reuvmet, which is also the last nahm of winter. (The Telamierian calendar starts on the first day of spring.) It began as a New Year celebration, saying goodbye to winter and hello to springtime. Many cultures set aside the full 20-day nahm period for celebrating, going to various parties, feasts and ending with a large gala that usually flows onto the streets.

Humans adopted Bolarda with many Christmas traditions including the decorating of trees and giving of gifts. The tradition of Santa Claus has faded over time and has been replaced with the stories of a giving spirit that inhabits those of good heart. To show your good heart, gifts are freely given to both loved ones and those in need.

One of the most popular traditions involved in Bolarda are the Bolarda bands. The festivities begin with wearing a band, which is much like a charm bracelet, where each bead represents something hurtful or unwanted that has happened to the wearer over the past year. It can be as generic as fear and sadness to more specific issues (loss of a loved one, loss of a job, etc.) People flock to shops selling these bands, stringing the various styled beads to represent themselves or purchasing a generic one with the beads of sadness, fear, hopelessness, pain, loss and anxiety. On the last night when the biggest party begins, bonfires are set in the center of the celebrations and at midnight, people throw their bands into the fire. They then replace the old bands for new ones that represent the many joyous events to come (wedding, new job, baby, etc.). There are generic ones for this as well, depicting joy, hope, love, peace, friendship and prosperity.

So from Telamier, “Moot Bolarda!” and for all those on Earth, “A very merry Christmas!”

Cry to Battle

Right versus wrong. Good versus evil. It’s the universal theme of humanity and for Battle Cries, this is no exception. Some may feel this concept is overdone in our literature, films and television. I disagree. After all, it is the ultimate conflict every person faces regardless of whether you’re battling an alien invasion or simply a bad day at work. To choose between right and wrong is at the core of our being. So what is right and what is wrong? Depending on one’s beliefs, this can become very confusing and muddied, in depth discussions I will leave for others. However, I believe there is a universal law. Hatred, slaughter, destruction of others for personal gain and power – bad. Compassion, care for each other, respect and courage – all good. There aren’t too many that can argue those points.

Sadly, I see the line between good and bad blurring. “I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad.” (Wreck-It-Ralph) We use the terms “bad” and “wicked” to mean “cool” and “desirable”. We elevate villains, making them the heroes. “No right, no wrong – I’m free.” (Frozen) Unfortunately, without absolutes, society falls into the trap of doing whatever each individual feels is right regardless of others. Like Mike says in Night Hawk, “I’ve heard it said that the just side of war is determined only by the side you are on. In a way I suppose that’s true, but I don’t think it’s completely accurate. As far as I’m concerned, a moral absolute plays a role in any conflict.

So, yes, Battle Cries may have a rather “overused” theme of good versus evil, but this is something everyone needs to constantly see and be reminded of. There is good and there is evil. There are individuals out there who wish to perpetuate evil, so there will always be a time when people must take a stand for what is right. It is the sad, but true story of humanity. So heed the cry to battle as Telamier faces its deadliest enemy and David Malard must decide what stand he will take against the overwhelming odds.

– Jolene Loraine

Favorites

If anyone asked me who my favorite Night Hawk character is, I wouldn’t hesitate to say David. He and I have been on this journey for a couple decades now. He was (perhaps still is) my hero, one developed for my personal edification during hard times in my teen and young adult life. I poured not only myself into him, but my hopes and ideals on what I consider the heart of a true hero. Yeah, it might sound rather sentimental, even a touch sappy, but it is the truth. Of all the characters I’ve ever written (in this series and other books) David has been with me through the most. This might sound strange to those who are not writers, but it’s a very real, and very personal side of the writing process. In fact, David’s been with me so long that he writes himself. In other words, no matter what I write, his thoughts, feelings and actions flow in a certain way – even if I originally intended something different.

This also goes for Darkracer, the other original character of Night Hawk. Even though David is, and will forever be, my favorite, Darkracer has a very special place in my heart. There’s no changing him – he is who he is. I’ve had suggestions given to me about him including changing his name and even as far as making him a robot (since this is science fiction) but there is no changing Darkracer, who I must admit can be rather stubborn at times.

Other favorites? Well, all the lead characters hold special places in my heart. I care about them as family (yeah, another sappy writer’s thing). Favorite alien species other than Candonian? Teshian. Favorite line from the book? Night Hawk’s tag line, “We can’t wait for the perfect time to live our lives. Otherwise we lose a great deal of what it means to live.” Favorite setting from the first book? The Piña Dorado, whose ballroom and mural hallway I literally dreamed up. And the Avenue – it just sounds like a lot of fun! (at least when it’s not under attack) Favorite technology? The Predator. That ship’s been in the series for almost as long as Night Hawk has existed. For me, she has become a character in herself. I can honestly say I love that ship far more than Mike ever could. Favorite scene? This is probably the hardest to answer. I really don’t have a true favorite. David’s recovery when he feels Darkracer’s comforting presence is special, as is Riechet departing for Valor Peak and the birth of the baby. On the action side, I admit I enjoy the aerial battles. However, I’ve found them to be some of the more difficult pieces to choreograph and write. Perhaps this is why I like them so much when they work out.

– Jolene Loraine

 

Night Hawk and 9-11

Did the horrible tragedy of 9/11 play any role in Night Hawk? The answer is yes. Specific plot points and events within the story are not written around the real-life terrorist attack, but the emotions I felt on that day helped shape the feelings the characters experience within the sudden attack of their world. I was actually in the midst of writing an earlier version of the invasion of Telamier when the events of 9/11 took place. I made a point to keep going that day, writing through my shock and grief. With the event so well documented and playing nonstop on every channel, it was easy to get a clear view of the very real reactions from witnesses. Of course the events on Telamier are quite different with different outcomes, but Human emotion is fairly universal. I can see how a lot of what I felt that day made its way into David’s thoughts and feelings.

9/11 also gave me a new perspective on how incredibly evil otherwise intelligent beings can be. Those involved in the orchestration of 9/11 showed a complete lack of humanity. Those attacks were pure evil. If Humans can do such monstrous things to each other, what would another species be capable of? One thing that actually ended up being removed because of 9/11 was a scene I had written involving Mike flying through a building. Using the Predator’s heavy armor, he blasts a path through a sky rise, going fast enough to stay just ahead of its collapse. Obviously unlike 9/11, he survives, but after the event I just couldn’t bring myself to leave the scene in.

So in closing, yes, 9/11 did affect Night Hawk, but, no, it is not where the story originated. Nor is Night Hawk in any way a commentary about the real war that followed. My book is about unique events on a distant world whose connection with real Earth events is nothing more than how my feelings from that day brought a sense of raw realism to the scenes.

– Jolene Loraine

A Part of Me

It is known that authors often write a piece of themselves into their characters. This is understandable since we can only draw from our own experiences and lessons throughout life. In the case of Night Hawk, David and I are probably the closest. No, I have not experienced the same traumas. I grew up in a loving home with a mother and father who care deeply for me. I’ve never lost anyone close in a tragic way. And I’ve certainly never faced the front lines of war. However, he and I both know what it’s like to grow discouraged with life and lose hope in the future. His struggles with “What good can I do?” are all too real for me. These are not egotistical feelings. I believe each one of us longs to make a difference in life, and in David’s case, he longs to protect those around him. Knowing he cannot do this all the time and being forced to watch people die leads to serious emotional struggles. By drawing from my own times of “What am I here for?”, along with feelings of helplessness, I’ve hopefully made David resonate on a very real level.

On a more positive note, David’s grief is not the only part he and I share. David was written as a character who learns, grows and strengthens as he recovers from his losses and develops through the experiences he faces. I, too, have grown much through the twenty-two years of walking alongside David. There are other characters I have strong connections to. Amber is my tough, sassy side; one I don’t normally show but is always lurking just under the surface. Perhaps a part of me wishes to express the confidence and leadership she shows (I’m more introverted), so she becomes my outlet. Mike’s playful humor also comes from a side of me. People say I’m easy to get along with, which I hope remains true throughout my life. Even Darkracer and I have a bit of a connection. I’d like to say it’s his wisdom, but that comes from my faith, not my personality. Unfortunately, I’d have to say his slight bent toward pessimism is more in line with me. Maybe I can learn from my own writing enough to lean toward Mike’s optimism.

Overall, the characters and I are deeply connected, but there is still a great deal I have learned from them. I’ve seen them grow into role models I wish to aspire to. My hope is that readers will find the attributes in characters like David, Amber, Mike and General Riechet ones to aspire to as well.

– Jolene Loraine

Finding My Inspiration

Star Wars, Avatar, etc.? No. Whether or not you see commonalities, I did not base my characters or stories off other works of fantasy or science fiction – at least not consciously. Of course all artists pick up inspiration from other artists, and as the old saying goes, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” So if you’re thinking, “Oh, she made the Celehi after Avatar’s aliens,” (who are also blue), nope. In fact, the Celehi were in place years before Avatar ever came out. And if you think Mike and Han Solo are the same – wrong again. Mike was not inspired by Han despite them both being pilots. Remember, Mike is a very compassionate, self-sacrificing individual who was never a criminal. Nor does he have the same attachment to his ship as Han does the Millennium Falcon. Furthermore, Lash is certainly not Chewbacca. The friendship between Mike and Lash stems from their years together in the same squadron where they learned to trust each other through very dangerous missions (pretty much like any buddies in the military). Oxyrans and Ewoks? No. It was natural to give Oxyrans a hairy covering since their world is further from the sun than Telamier. This also plays into their compact bodies. In fact, much of my inspiration comes from the natural world. I’ve always been fascinated by nature and like to think about why things look and function as they do. My innate love for animals played heavily into the development of the alien species – in case you hadn’t noticed.

Other things found their inspirations not in things that are, but rather in things that are not. For example, I had David getting drunk by drinking bottles of an alcoholic beverage. The question was posed as to how to make this different. Well, if “what is” is to drink a liquid, what about eating? Now go a step further. The result – alcohol pills. Dreams have also inspired both settings and action. The mural in the Piña Dorado hallway and the “water floor” of the ballroom were things from a dream I had. Inspirations have also come from random things in the world around me. I love to look at all kinds of art, listen to all kinds of music, and observe all kinds of events. Little observations have played important roles. When it came to the comlinks, I wanted something other than the traditional talk-to-your-wrist device, but what? Let’s face it, a device attached to your wrist is a very logical way of doing things. Then something seemingly insignificant caught my eye while watching the movie, S.W.A.T. Jeremy Renner’s character of Gamble wears a com device around his neck (like I’ve seen various law enforcement and military personnel use), and I suddenly went “Ahha!” Now the comlinks on Telamier are collars that pick up voice signals while a small earpiece fits behind the ear and relays the incoming messages. And the control for all this? That came from a Nova documentary on new technologies. Apparently scientists are experimenting with using the mind to control devices. The crazy thing is – it works! Comlink problem solved. So my inspiration comes from many different places and I never discredit the small stuff. However, I always try to avoid purposefully copying other works of science fiction.