Interview with an Antagonist

The last few days I’ve been prying information out of my characters. After the initial round of talkativeness, they left while I got my notes caught up (and some of my reading).

The twins came back to talk to me again last night. They let me know that they are modern kids, so I dove into the research I needed to tell their stories. To begin with, they are rock climbers and spelunkers—interesting skills for a pair of teenagers. Most of the cousins are hikers, campers, and love being outdoors; a few could take it or leave it—preferably leave it. But the twins love climbing and exploring caves, basements, and other underground areas.

While researching their hobbies, I got to know the twins a little better. But I really got to know Talbot when he unloaded to me.

He is a troubled young soul who feels out of place in the world into which he’s been born. And he is—sort of. Almost every other family member resembles their great-grandmother’s side of the family, but Talbot is the spitting image of his great-grandfather, Duncan—complete with his affinity for the proverbial “dark side.” That affinity was reinforced when he found his great-grandfather’s journal.

Talbot complained to me about everything, especially the twins. I got the feeling that he resents their existence in a way I cannot fathom. On the other hand, his complaints were not limited to the fact that they look like every other member of the Alterian family where he does not. He didn’t want to be the Big Brother. He wanted his parents all to himself and saw the twins as intruders and outsiders. His jealousy raged.

But he hates himself as much as he hates the twins because they have a way of placating him, soothing his resentments, and making him feel what he doesn’t want to feel. Sometimes when he’s with them, he isn’t the outsider he believes himself to be, and he hates that they can do that to him. Many of the cousins give him a wide berth and avoid him at family gatherings, which feeds his resentment against them.

So much about himself and his family became clear after finding Duncan’s journal. Once Talbot deciphered the journal, he set out to find this cave of crystal formations. He found the cave some five years before the twins. By then, he had discovered one of the secrets of the cave—deep within the mountain was a portal to elsewhere.

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