Growing up, I was pretty involved with my church. While I’m no longer connected to the church, many of those experiences (as all experiences do) shaped me into the person I am today. So, it’s no surprise that those experiences helped shape my writing and worlds I create.
When I was in middle school, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Jamaica on a mission trip. This was my first trip out of the country (Canada doesn’t count, I’m sorry), and it was the farthest I’d ever flown on an airplane. Did I mention I was traveling to a third world country, one I knew next to nothing about? I was anxious and excited and completely unsure of what to expect.
|Jamaica me crazy!|
So when I met Martin, it’s no surprise that he would turn into the basis of one of my most important characters.
Martin was one of the missionaries residing in Jamaica. He helped shuttle us around, introduced us to the people, and taught us about the culture and land. I remember him being tall and a little intimidating, but he was charismatic in his own way. He had wide features and a deep voice, and I couldn’t help but listen to him any time he had something to say. I felt like I’d be missing something if I didn’t.
When I really got serious about The Chosen of the Light, I began rewriting and fleshing out my characters, turning them into real people. Most of my characters had always been real in my mind, so fleshing them out wasn’t too much of a problem, but there was one that I couldn’t get a grasp on. Nidic Waq, the prophet featured throughout my series, and arguably one of the most important characters. Spirit Summoner might be about Darr, but Darr is driven and guided by Nidic Waq.
My problem with Nidic Waq was I didn’t have a good handle on him. He was a wizard-type character in my mind, but that’s all I really had on him. Besides, he wasn’t a wizard, he was a prophet and Spirit Summoner. He didn’t have any human characteristics, and I knew that had to change. But no one in my life really seemed to embody the characteristics I imagined he should have, and so I had a difficult time trying to make him into a “real person”.
|"Besides, he wasn't a wizard, |
he was a prophet."
Martin, the missionary from Jamaica, finally helped me figure it out. Martin with his intimidating presence nonetheless drew me in and made me want to listen to whatever he had to say. He was the perfect basis for Nidic Waq. Of course, I gave my character my own little tweaks, making him exactly what I envisioned, but if it wasn’t for meeting Martin, I don’t know that he’d be the same character he is today.
I found out a couple years later that Martin had left his position as a missionary, turning away from friends and family, but that never discouraged me. If anything, it made me realize Martin, like Nidic Waq, was human, and prone to dreams and desires. I looked at Nidic Waq in an entirely new way, as a human who’d made a choice to become a prophet. Maybe one day, his choices will take him in a different direction.
EXCERPT FROM MATTHEW CAMPBELL'S BOOK "SPIRIT OF THE SUMMONER"
Blue light gathered on the stranger’s fingertips and the air about him rippled outward like the surface of a pond. No, not the air. A sheet of water had materialized before the robed figure, its surface heaving outward by some unseen force. The stranger dipped his hand into the glassy surface, stirring it, causing it to shudder before a rippling geyser of water exploded across the charred ruins of the Tyfran General Store. The geyser found its mark in the body of the firehound, as it leapt at Darr. The elemental froze, its maw split wide and its body contorted in upheaval. Then it fell to the ground and evaporated into smoke and steam.
" . . . the white robes around
his body shimmered softly."
Dumbfounded, Darr clutched the top of the counter for dear life, staring open-mouthed at the stranger. He could see him clearly now, incredibly tall, his face hard and set, dominated by piercing green eyes set above his wide nose and close-cropped beard.
The stranger raised his other arm, and the white robes around his body shimmered softly. The same blue light, this time laced with tiny sparkles of yellow, swirled around his hands and arms. The man gathered it up and sent it spinning upwards to the ceiling. Darr jerked away from the motion, but the chill of a misty dampness caressed his face. When he looked up again, the flames were beginning to die away. A downpour of rain fell all about the room. The raindrops swirled about the interior of the store, a miniature squall hanging on the ceiling, and yet visibly there wasn’t anything of the sort. At the center of the maelstrom, the stranger held his arms up high with glowing fingertips.
When the rain had washed away the fire, the stranger lowered his arms and his conjuring ceased. With eyes fixed on Darr, he started forward. The Summoner found he could only stare at the stranger’s face from his perch on the counter.
I know this man, but from where?
Without a sideways glance, the stranger walked to the man who had been on fire. Stunned, Darr rushed over. The Summoner lowered himself down beside the kneeling stranger. The stranger’s hands moved over the withered form, touching it, checking it in places. After a few moments, the stranger looked up, and his piercing gaze found the Summoner’s own. Untold knowledge glowed in those eyes. This man knew things no mortal could comprehend. A chill descended over him.
“Do not worry, Darr Reintol,” the stranger said, his voice oddly reassuring. “This man isn’t your father. It’s unfortunate, but there are worse ways to die these days.”
Questions flooded Darr’s mind, but he forced them away. The man’s charred remains lay before him, and a feeling of sadness and guilt washed through Darr over his relief that it wasn’t his father.
The stranger rose, his white robe enfolding him, armoring him. He walked to where a shelf had been overturned near the front of the store and carefully tipped it away. His father lay underneath it, his clothes covered in ash and soot, his face bruised. Despite being unconscious, his father’s chest rose and fell steadily with each breath.
Darr ran to his father’s side, checking the old man’s body to see if there were any broken bones or permanent damage on the surface. It appeared his father had been knocked out, but was otherwise all right.
When Darr looked up to thank the stranger, the man had vanished, gone as suddenly as he’d come.
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