Favourite Things About My Protagonists, Thorn And Lily - Joshua Khan
Let’s start with Lily, or to give her full name and title, Lilith Hecate Shadow, ruler of Gehenna, the kingdom of Darkness. Not bad for a thirteen-year-old girl.Lily is a reaction to all the sword-wielding action heroines that have popped up in books of late, one version of a strong female character. Been there, done that.
So, I wanted a create a new type of heroine, one who was bad-ass without being kick-ass, who played for the highest stakes imaginable, but never picked up a sword nor shot an arrow. She was inspired by two real-life heroines.
First up is Elizabeth the First, England’s greatest queen. Now she was never even meant to be queen, she came to the throne after her brother’s and sister’s deaths. Her father executed her mother and spent her early, formative years with the banner of bastard. Yet she was clever, wise, a player and led England into a golden age of exploration and literature. Never picked up anything sharper than a needle. Then we have Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who the Taliban tried to murder for promoting the education of girls. She survived a bullet in the head to become a Nobel Peace Prize winner, the youngest ever, and a valiant warrior for women worldwide. She, more than anyone, proved how the pen was certainly mightier than the sword, as it can deliver a message that could change the world.
Lily’s my fantastical version of both. She rules, or tries to, not with violence, but with wit and compassion, and just a little bit of black magic. Ok, quite a lot. She lives in a world where women are banned from practising sorcery on pain of death by fire but is destined to be the most powerful necromancer of the age. Hooray for Lily! So, Lily is all about power, and women’s rights. As I pitched SHADOW MAGIC early on, this is a feminist high fantasy.
Next up, and different is all ways, is Thorn, my peasant boy outlaw for a talent of trouble and a soul incapable of deceit. He’s my Robin Hood. Born and raised in Herne’s Forest, he’s a preternaturally gifted archer, but stubbornly just. As we grow older, and perhaps more cynical, we can lose sight of the truth. Children aren’t like that. They see clearly, and passionately. Thorn’s twelve, and aware enough of what the adult world entails, and that’s danger and hardship for folk like him, but utterly driven to being just, even if he doesn’t understand it himself.Chuck them in together.
The kingdom of Gehenna is one of deception, lies and betrayal, but great history and a glorious past. Lily wants the best for her people but doesn’t understand how to get it. Thorn sees what’s best, but has no power to make it happen. Yet Lily is a creature of darkness, raised in a lightless castle with ghosts and zombies as companions. Thorn was born under the open sky and has an affinity towards the natural, living world. They’re as opposite as can be but complement each other perfectly. Their relationship is inspired by my love for those 1930’s comedies with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, antagonistic, yet each respects the other, and they give as good as they get.
It’s been awesome fun writing SHADOW MAGIC and the sequel DREAM MAGIC, and I’m deep into the third book right now, BURNING MAGIC. If all goes well there will be more to come beyond that!
About The Author
Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings, and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.
*Tintagel, in case you were wondering.