The Creation of Haedyn: A Walk Through Building an Unusual Character

Jennifer L. OliverI’m excited to welcome fellow fantasy author and WANA-ite Jennifer L. Oliver to my blog today.

Jennifer was born and raised in North Carolina and now lives on Florida’s gulf coast with her husband, two cats, a dog, and multiple fish. She is the author of dark urban fantasy and paranormal thrillers. When she’s not writing, you can find her giggling with her granddaughter and enjoying time with her family. The Unnamed is her debut novelette and prequel to the upcoming novel Haedyn, due out this year.


Being your guest today is such a treat for me, Marcy. Thank you for having me!

Every author gets their ideas for stories in different ways. For me, a story starts out as a character first. Most of them begin as partial images or wisps of shadows, like ghosts floating through my mind. They don’t speak but rather hover in the corners until I coax them to come forward. The more time I spend with them, the more solid and detailed they become. Then they tell me their story.

Haedyn, the protagonist in The Unnamed and main character in my upcoming novel, was different. She walked right up to me and said, “Here I am. Create me.” Who could say no to that?

So there I was with so many options that I wasn’t even sure where to begin. The one thing I was sure of was that I wanted Haedyn to be unique and possess qualities of the strong female leads that I love. I made a list, picked out a few, and analyzed what it was about them that stayed with me.

IllyriaOn the TV show Angel the character Fred (Winifred Burkle) was taken over by an ancient demon, Illyria. Now, as saddened as I was to see the death of such a loveable character as Fred, I was immediately intrigued by Illyria. She was powerful, arrogant, and oozed of superiority. Until she found out that her world was gone and there was no one left to worship her. But that’s a whole other issue.

What struck me about Illyria was her looks. She was different. Unique. From her awkward movements and proper speech to her blue-streaked hair and bright blue eyes, she took otherworldly to a whole new level for me (probably due to Amy Acker’s fabulous portrayal of her). That’s I wanted for Haedyn.

I gave her features that would make her stand out: pale skin, silverish-white hair, and deep red eyes. Humans mistakenly believe she has a rare form of albinism. But it isn’t just the genetic disorder that made humans distance themselves, it’s something else. Something instinctual. It’s that voice that tells our subconscious that we are in the presence of potential danger and we need to be wary. Suddenly I had a full image of Haedyn in my head. It was awesome.

Then I moved on to her personality. At first, Haedyn took on the awkwardness and proper speech of Illyria. She was a loner and didn’t know how to deal with others, human or supernatural. She had complete control over her emotions and kept them buried so deep that she forgot how to feel. She was detached. She was… a robot. Um, yeah, that wasn’t going to work.

I didn’t want Haedyn’s uniqueness to hinder her strength. I wanted her to be affected by her differences but not defeated by them. So I pulled a little from the character Fred, the girl who Illyria infected and eventually took over.

Fred was likeable and sweet, an innocent in a cruel world who had to endure terrible things just to survive. She found the strength within herself to overcome being sent to an alternate dimension and still managed to hold on to her innocence. I wanted Haedyn to have that kind of inner strength, but I didn’t want the vulnerability and naivety.

Which lead me to one of my all-time favorite female leads, Selene from the movie Underworld. She definitely had some influence in creating Haedyn. Selene is a vampire and a death-dealer. She’s strong and loyal. No matter what job she’s given, her elders know she’ll get it done. Death and killing don’t affect her in the slightest—she can’t let it. It’s how she survives in a world full of back-stabbing, power-hungry vampires. She trusts no one and she’s not only smart, but street-savvy. And she fights for what she believes is right, including love. 

Haedyn is very much like Selene in these ways, but she also has the underlying desire to belong somewhere, to fit in. She’s lonely and yearning for a higher purpose—much like Illyria was at the end of Angel. I think Haedyn has a good mix of all the things I like about my favorite female leads. You’ll have to let me know what you think after you meet her yourself in my novel Haedyn, due out this year.

Who are your favorite characters? Have they had any influence in your life or your work?

The Unnamed by Jennifer L. OliverThe Unnamed:

The demon Azazel will stop at nothing to corrupt souls, even if he has to make his own. But in doing so, his process mistakenly creates an abomination more powerful than he imagined: the Unnamed.

A blind albino, Haedyn has never fit in with other children. When she comes face to face with pure evil, she discovers that she’s not even human. She must decide what to do in a world where she doens’t belong.

The Unnamed is a prelude to the upcoming novel Haedyn, due out in early 2013.

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