Library of Characters: E. N. Leonard

Greetings, fair folk! I’m E. N. Leonard, aka Maiden Lionheart, a writer and artist with a flair for the wildly creative. Thus, it follows that I’m right at home writing fantasy. Now, you’re not here to learn about me, but one of my characters.

*opens the door to where all of my protagonists are hiding*

Li ríoroy Síusel! Who wants to do an interview? The people at Lucy’s blog want to meet you!

Ríadné: keeps listening to music.

Nikthoona: *eyes me distrustfully* “What is an interview?”

Zéra: *stops chasing butterflies* “Sure! What is it?”

Everyone, meet Zéra Nathírya!

Introduce your character to me — who is she? Which story is she from? 

Zéra is from my WIP Starsong, the last book in my WIP trilogy. The uncooperative protagonists are the MCs of the first two books. She is the only child of Gunu Nathírya, the Traitor of Nydel, and she lives in Amalasand with little knowledge of her ancestral home, the land her father betrayed. 

Give a synopsis of her past.

Without spoilers? Well, she grew up in all the opulence of Amalasand nobility — and all its oppression. It was a mixture of devouring books, riding horses, exploring the Oyaka Canyon, doing fancy needlework, and going on hunting parties as far as the pleasant stuff goes. Unpleasant involves seeing cruelty done to the peasants and being a Nydenya of the North in hot Amalasand. Starsong finds her when a strange darkness flows into the Oyaka River from the sea, forcing her to search for the secret history of Nydel. Only Riadné’s Hope can push back the tide of darkness.

What gave/gives you inspiration for her?

I was inspired to write Zéra by considering what a fantasy story would be like if I flipped around the Chosen One trope, writing from the perspective of a person who is not the chosen one but a supporter of that person. This grew into Starsong, in which the “chosen one,” Ríadnu, is viewed through the one he could do nothing without, Zéra.

“First I knew the wandering road of mine when starsong called me to venture this odyssey.” ~ Zéra Nathírya

How has her past shaped who she is now? What is that personality?

Her past was one of “follow the rules and don’t ask questions!” Naturally, she is very curious. She satisfied some of this curiosity by devouring the Amalasand Royal Library, which hunger her best friend, the Prince of Amalasand, never understood. She gets to tease him about not knowing the language of the Tersenya, though! Zéra also has loved horses since she was a wee lass. While she hung out around the stable, the stablemaster cultivated compassion in her and taught her to care for her horse. As he put it, if you don’t know what proper care is, you can’t make sure your horse gets it. All of this culminated in giving her a curious, compassionate, independent personality.

What are her strengths and weaknesses?

For physical strengths, she’s great with a bow and horseback riding. For the important and fascinating mental/emotional/spiritual ones, she’s idealistic, which urges her to pursue noble goals. She’s also pretty optimistic for all the little challenges it takes to get there. However, when the reality of her achievement falls drastically short of what she desired, her level of disillusionment reaches nigh cynicism and nihilism. Zéra can also be careless of details and impetuous, rushing into things headlong without planning. Her strength that I especially love is her compassion. No matter what state she’s in, she cares for others first to the point of a sacrificial love. Her curiosity and constant state of wonder also delight me.

Give a few examples of how she will/needs to grow throughout the story. (Without spoilers! 😜)

Heh. Heh. Heh. Poor Zéra…

First off, she has got to figure out that not every stranger is a potential friend. I don’t even know if that’s important to the plot, but she still needs to figure it out. “Look before you leap” would be a good maxim for her to memorize, too. The most important thing she needs to learn is to never ever let the darkness steal her joy or stop her fight against evil. 

“Hearken to the light, reminding: the darkness shall fade!” ~ Song of Rélír 

What is her greatest struggle/fear?

Zéra struggles to separate herself from her family’s past of treachery. It puts shame on her, and puts fear and doubt into all the people she’s trying to help, which wounds her heart deeply. Her decision to involve herself in the plot at all stems partly from a desire to attempt to redeem her family name.

What is she most afraid of losing?

Zéra has an intriguing greatest fear. She is terrified of losing what beauty, truth, and goodness yet remains upon the earth. This is so interesting because the gifting of the Nydenya actively works to preserve this and halt darkness.

“The gift of the Nydenya is alive and well in you, Zéra.”  ~ Gaphríné the Lie-breaker

Character appearance:

Long, straight, and smooth brown hair, green eyes, and pale skin. She is tall and carries herself regally, yet with careless grace. In Amalasand, one will find her with ivy leaves painted on her cheekbones and in a white mantle and white flowing linen that helps with the heat. In the northern wilderness, she gets to dress to her preference: simple gray and green with a nice warm cloak her aunt made, and no makeup!

“You are what queens ought to be.” ~ Ríadnu Seorsavrel

My thanks to Lucy for hosting A Chaotic Collection of Protagonists! It was really fun and helpful  for me to examine Zéra’s character and categorize what I found. May the peace and grace of our Lord be with you all!

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