Author Guest Post: Colleen Houck Talks Characters that Live Long and Prosper!

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Hey all! Colleen’s guest post is an awesome one. She talks about some of the influences that helped to create one of her favorite characters, Mr. Kadam. Lots of wonderful fantasy and sci-fi references in here!

I have to give you a warning: if you haven’t seen the Star Trek movie The Wrath of Kahn and don’t know what happens in the film, there’s a major spoiler in here. You might want to read with caution. But other than that, read away!

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I’ve often been asked if any of my characters are based on real people. Sometimes they are, but often the various personalities in my books end up being inspired by other beloved characters. Almost every famous hero’s journey has a mentor of some kind, a character that guides the hero with sage wisdom. A guardian that leads by example, directs the early footsteps of young champions, and knows when it’s time to send their young protégée out into the real world.

I am a huge Sci-Fi/Fantasy buff. There is nothing I love more. My Mr. Kadam was inspired by some of my favorite characters from Science Fiction and Fantasy. I often say that Mr. Kadam is one-part Mr. Roarke from Fantasy Island and one-part Spock, but in reality there are also glimpses of Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Data. He also has a smidge of Gandalf and glimpses of Dumbledore.

These beloved characters have shaped how I view the role of a mentor. With Gandalf, I have incorporated the idea of rebirth and, as a result, Mr. Kadam become much more than what he was. Like Obi-Wan, he coached his charges in the art of warfare. There is a sense that there is more to Mr. Kadam than meets the eye, that there are powers hidden beneath the surface like the character of Dumbledore.

In Tiger’s Destiny, we see that Mr. Kadam is able to glimpse future possibilities much like Yoda. Mr. Roarke was clever, poised, and mysterious. The actor, Ricardo Montalban, who played both Mr. Roarke and Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, loaned his rich voice, a twinkling eye, and the sense of dramatic power that I imagine in my character.

Mr. Spock and Mr. Data from Star Trek not only inspired the “Mr.” part of my Mr. Kadam, but also lent a dry sense of humor and the need to work things out using research and logic.

I have loved the character of Spock for decades. Spock is the ultimate—a multifaceted, profound, and mesmerizing character. Others have come close—Data, 7 of 9, and Gandalf, but none have as tight a grip on my heart. Spock is a faithful companion, an unwavering friend, and a man willing to sacrifice his life for the safety of the crew.

When I was young my parents took the family to see The Wrath of Khan and I wept bitterly when Spock died. The scene was heart wrenching, sweet, and left an indelible impression upon my younger self. Even now I can quote every line from the scene and recreate it perfectly in my mind—As a blind Spock bumps against the glass separating him from his Captain, he speaks in a raspy voice, “You have been…and always shall be…my friend.” Those words make me tear up even now as I’m typing. Never before that and never since has any character ever impacted me in the same way.

To me, Mr. Kadam has become more than just a character. Literally his thoughts are my thoughts, my mind is his mind. He speaks to me and often I feel I am just dictating his story, writing the things he would have me share.

I have led my fans to believe that the tiger series is Kelsey’s story, Kelsey’s journey. It is in some ways. But, it’s also very much Mr. Kadam’s story and, like my favorite character Spock, Kadam has a past and a future that even Spock would call, “Fascinating.”

At some point I am going to have to leave Mr. Kadam’s story behind. It’s a sad thing for me. A sobering thing. Perhaps even more so than leaving behind Kelsey or her princes. Another Vulcan once said, “In accepting the inevitable, one finds peace.” I’m not quite there yet but I do wish all my characters, especially Mr. Kadam, a peaceful end. My goal is that somewhere, at some time, a little girl or boy might feel about my Mr. Kadam the way I feel about Spock.

Live long and prosper.

Colleen Houck

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Thanks Colleen! Want more? Check her out at tigerscursebook.com and on twitter at @colleenhouck.

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