I’ve heard about this sort of thing happening to other authors – i.e. a character appearing unbidden, “out of the blue” (or perhaps from the author’s subconscious) – but I had not personally experienced it before. Now, I have.
Recently a character “walked right in” to the novel I’m currently working on, second in my Women of Beowulf trilogy. Her name is Runa, she’s Finnish, and she’s a young slave in Beowulf’s home territory in Sweden.
The sudden appearance of Runa has opened up a whole new area of research for me: Finnish folk culture and particularly the national epic, The Kalevala. I’ve been devouring this fascinating document for several days and nights. The work had been on the periphery of my vision for years; I used to read aloud to high school students a story taken from The Kalevala, “Louhi, Witch of North Farm.” Now, I’m absorbing the richness of folklore and characters it has to offer.
Since Finland is now “on my radar,” so to speak, Finnish sources have been popping up all around me. For example, I recently discovered that a longtime friend here in the U.S. is of Finnish descent. She loaned me two books on Finnish history which are turning out to be a goldmine of information. So it goes. When “way opens,” as we Quakers say, you just don’t know who will walk through that door or where they will take you.
In Faces in the Fire I went to Denmark and Germany. With Book Two (as yet untitled) I’m journeying to Sweden and now Finland. I wonder where Book Three will lead me? Time will tell – or an unexpected character!