A Galaxy of Possibilities: Discussing Character Writing, Diversity, Star Wars and Fandom – Week 2: Satkia Wayne

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Satkia Wayne, Students of the Light
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Satkia Wayne, née Beltrak, is the first character I created when joining SWRPG in July 2008. There was no hesitation that she would be a Jedi looking like Gillian Anderson and Mara Jade (Anderson’s character Dana Scully in the X-Files and Mara Jade have both been role models for me when I grew up and are still strong inspirations to me even now). Satkia could be considered a Mary Sue by some, because the fierce redhead who can steal traits from her writer goes back to my first novel, a dark fantasy piece still unpublished to this day. I had carried this character with me for a long while and it naturally led to Satkia be my first character on the board. Satkia eventually got a third claim associated: Marvel’s Black Widow.

The irony is that the only other – and very brief – attempt at roleplaying that I did – in the Farscape universe – was with a character named Satkia Telkis, also using Gillian Anderson. She was a ruthless Peacekeeper officer. While the character didn’t last long under this guise, it eventually served me to create another Star Wars roleplay character, my Empress Tatiana Renkl.

Why I think that Satkia Wayne isn’t a Mary Sue is because she always had defects; and even as I conceived her, I wanted to give her things I don’t. Do I have a strong connection to this character who has remained some kind of main alt after six years? Of course, but seeing the connection stem from both how her development fascinated me and how she stole elements from me without a warning at times (which happened with many of my characters), made the process extremely organic. This is why I don’t consider Satkia a Mary Sue and yet don’t mind if some people who know me well think of her like that, because she is a very layered character. I personally believe that incorporating elements of our own self as writers in our characters is something extremely natural, either on a conscious or unconscious level. To me a problem only arises if a potential Mary Sue becomes too perfect and too annoying, but this phenomenon doesn’t even require an actual Mary Sue and can happen through different types of characters.

Original Satkia art made by Khasidel Ihendrethan @ SWRPG

Original Satkia art made by Khasidel Ihendrethan @ SWRPG

Wanting to write a Jedi was kind of common choice. I had always played my character light side in Knights of the Old Republic, and she was called Satkia, which is where the name comes from, while Beltrak originates from another of my original stories. Beyond the name and face, there were a few things that were at the core of the creation process. I didn’t want her to come from a fancy planet and was drawn to Nar Shaddaa, the shady world controlled by the Hutts. I loved the idea of showing that beyond the general ideas and cliché, there were good people on this planet, who didn’t necessarily chose a life of crime. Even now that she is a Jedi Master, Satkia still has a great fondness for the planet.

Another planet normally not associated with positive elements that is very special to Satkia is Mustafar. She has always felt that this planet protected her. Not only did she make peace with her twin sister’s death there, through a vision, but twice she faced lethal threats and survived.

I had no idea when I started her that she would eventually become one of the sword masters of the Jedi Order, with proficiency in all forms, including Vaapad, nor that she would wield regular lightsabers, dual bladed ones and even light whips. She didn’t develop a strong inclination for this until she was a Jedi Knight. She very much surprised me with this, just as her love for elemental skills did, with her predilection for fire. She always was into mechanics and flying ships but she wasn’t lightsaber oriented. I still don’t understand why some of my characters love becoming combat experts when this is the most difficult type of writing to do for me.

Limb losses are a common pattern in Star Wars, which is why I am careful not to overdo it with characters and go for different health problems or grave injuries if I choose them to have some. In Satkia’s case, she had part of her internal organs upgraded after heavy battles, inducing permanent alterations to her diet for example. She also suffered from fertility issues cause by two different set of wounds, and even with technology and Jedi healing, she had little chance to conceive a second child, though it will eventually happen – which causes a risky pregnancy.

Original Satkia art made by Killian Quane @ SWRPG

Original Satkia art made by Killian Quane @ SWRPG

With Satkia learning and teaching so much about lightsaber combat, I now can demonstrate (things that doesn’t require the Force to exist at least!) a lot from the different forms, which isn’t a skill you put on a resume, but that makes me feel somewhat (and nerdily) accomplished, just as I enjoy knowing the Force skills Jedi can learn on this forum by heart! Satkia is one of my two primary teacher roleplaying characters and I know that it taught me a lot about adjusting to students, besides my writing craft. She has trained or mentored more than thirty pupils and it has been quite challenging! I find it fascinating when writing also spread out to other skills both because of research and actual writing.

While I don’t pretend that my characters can’t have a “larger than life” dimension, I find it important that they have weaknesses. For Satkia, it was her blatant lack of healing skills. Given that this is an emblematic skills for the Jedi Order, I found this all the more interesting to give this to her. Between that, her fierce personality and how she had ties to Dark Siders (and some former ones) most of her life, it made it enjoyable to have her never stray from the light side, despite when some other characters (or writers) believed that she was a solid candidate to be tempted by the dark side. She never even flirted with darkness. It wasn’t the kind of conflict that interested me to her, not the kind that felt right. She had to juggle with the loss of her twin sister, their mother wishing that it had been said sister who had survived, and several other losses. Finding her strength in these dark hours and how she could keep going was more fascinating to me than having her turn dark. She could have been a great villain, but it never was the suitable choice for her, though I understand what she could have been.

I support the term of “strong women” because I believe that this label is still needed and that there are many forms of strength, that don’t necessarily go rely on the physical. I consider Satkia a strong woman, but not simply because she has become a combat expert. She was this way before this development and is strong for many reasons. She is a teacher, a leader – who also supported the now reformed alliance between Jedi and New Republic, a mother and much more: she is her own person. She stood up for her conviction no matter whether captured by high ranked imperials or when deciding not to apologize for having found love with a former Sith Master who still held that position when they turned a long friendship into something different. And this strength also resides in admitting when she was wrong and that she still has things to learn, no matter the rank she holds. Just as the Jedi Code says: “Ignorance, yet knowledge.”

  •  How can your role models influence your character creation process?
  • How much of yourself tends to be found in your characters? Do certain elements tend to show up more than others, no matter the type of characters?
  • What do you think about strong female characters?

Book Review: The Heart of Self-Love by Heather Hans

heartofselflovecoverIn between of all my novel reading, I made time to read another personal development book. This time, it was The Heart of Selve-Love: How to Radiate with Confidence by Heather Hans.

I was rather skeptical with the first chapters (‘The Soul’, ‘The Body’, ‘Relationships’) not so much because I disagreed with the author, but I read much more compelling writings about it (such as Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, The Beauty Blueprint by Michelle Phillips, Miracles Now by Gabrielle Bernstein or anything by Mandy Hale). I didn’t engage as much with Hans on these sections of the book, as well as a few other ones.

I was originally pleasantly surprised with her including astrology and numerology in the introduction, but it felt that she could have developed more about them.

As much as I am glad that she brought up the importance of humor and creativity in life, I couldn’t help thinking that my sense of humor very much differed with hers, and it felt that mostly pranking was supported as a form of humor. I found it a little bit reducing because you can like humor without necessarily enjoying pranks. The same, I wish that she had developed the aspect about creativity in a more detailed way.

Now, there are sections of the book that I have found very interesting and inspiring. I would especially recommend the chapters ‘Education’, ‘Social Justice’ and ‘Standards of Excellence’. They were my favorite in the whole book and I think that Hans put so much into them. The way she talked about the importance of education (beyond academic settings and during one’s whole life) and also how tolerance, respect and equality are crucial for not only self-love, but a better world, was something I agreed with and she explored these different aspects in a thorough way.

The other element that I found most compelling, which shows up in several chapters of the book, was Hans’s words on spirituality and how she showed the bridges between different religions/spiritual approaches. I always appreciate when authors have such oecumenical considerations, regardless of their personal faith.

Feminist Friday: Early Childhood and Culture

Natacha Guyot:

This week’s Feminist Friday discussion was held at Part Time Monster but everyone is still welcome to chime in as the discussion run for a few days.

Originally posted on Part Time Monster:

A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled “Early Childhood Learning is About Parents.” That turned into a discussion about how to deal with the fact that children learn by imitating the people who take care of them. Today I want to look at the same issue from another angle. Children also learn from whatever larger culture they happen to be born into. They don’t just imitate the people who feed and clothe them. They also imitate people they encounter at school and people they see on television. In this post I’ll share a couple of anecdotes about things I’ve had to do to try and counteract attitudes with my six-year-old grandson that could turn into sexism if we didn’t talk about them honestly.

First, a conversation we had in a McDonald’s a few months ago. We were on the road and stopped there to take a…

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Links: Writing, Redefining Disability, Feminism and Cosplay

ID-100229963 - Tea by zirconicusso

Links: Writing, Redefining Disability, Feminism and Cosplay

 

Book Review: Star Wars 2014 Sampler

I rarely read book samples, even when excerpts are available at the end of a book I purchased and read. Yet, I couldn’t resist to download and check the Star Wars 2014 Sampler out! Prior to reading it I was mostly interested in one or two of the four books included, but now I can’t wait for all of them!

Source: Wookieepedia.

Source: Wookieepedia.

Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller

I am so excited for the upcoming series Star Wars: Rebels! I already had a soft spot for Hera Syndulla but reading this chapter made me like her even more (if possible given how fangirling I am over her, including because of Vanessa Marshall voicing her!)

I also enjoyed the imperial side of things and Count Vidian is creepy and a potentially interesting villain. Captain Rae Sloane is a character I am looking forward to see more off. I find it great they add more female characters in the imperial ranks, and while there were others present prior to these new books, I can’t help feeling that the game Star Wars: The Old Republic might have helped to bring more women to the Empire in new projects.

Star Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno

Frankly, I didn’t expect to be very enthusiastic about this book, regardless of how I enjoy Luceno’s writing. I think that Tarkin is a worthy character in the Star Wars universe, but he doesn’t rank anywhere near my favorite.

I was pleasantly surprised by the excerpt and Tarkin is now on my to read list once it comes out. Luceno always gets the Star Wars universe so well. I like reading more about the Imperials, which might be slightly tied to how many I write with my role playing characters and how the Agent in Star Wars: The Old Republic was one of my favorite classes.

Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

I am not a natural fan of novels written in the first person, but I can enjoy some from time to time. Heir to the Jedi seems to be on this list. I forgot the first person aspect almost right away, because of how well Hearn got into Luke’s head. And the mentions of Ben Kenobi also had me from the first lines. Any mention of Obi Wan’s death tends to have this effect on me since the first time I saw A New Hope when I was a child (and it still is one scene I can’t rewatch without being devastated, much like Mufasa’s death in The Lion King). I also liked when Luke reflected on Biggs’s death and his youth on Tatooine.

The way Luke didn’t suddenly become all grown up and making just right decisions because of becoming a hero of the Alliance and still needing to do things like everyone else, despite his reputation, was great. It made a lot of sense, especially in regards to The Empire Strikes Back and even Return of the Jedi.

I also liked Nakari Kelen, another interesting woman of color, and I was grateful that they didn’t set her up right away as a possible love interest for Luke. I hope it stays that way and that we see more of her.

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp

This novel wasn’t very much on my radar until this book sampler. I got sucked into the chapter right away. Thank you Mr. Kemp for addressing Vader’s suit, injured body and how he has been dealing with the pain since he had to be put inside of it in order to survive. That was a very compelling (and important) scene about disability awareness in Star Wars, something that I had been hoping to see for a very long time. I hope that this sets the path for future scenes, in books, movies and TV shows in the franchise!

I found the Twi’lek characters interesting as well and can’t help wondering whether (and if so, how) Cham Syndulla is related to Hera Syndulla (Star Wars: Rebels). His interaction with his crew, including Isval, was solid and full of potential.

Seeing Vader fly his starfighter and get things done his way also made a lot of sense, especially given how he goes to chase Luke and other Rebel pilots himself a few years later in A New Hope.

Spectacular Blog Award

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Thank you Hannah for nominating me for a Spectacular Blog Award! I am glad that you think so well of this blog and of me!

What’s the Spectacular Blog Award? Well, here are the rules:

  • Everyone else is free to snag the graphic and give it to blogs they find spectacular.
  • When giving the award, add a short post to your blog about the blog you’re nominating and send a comment/note/email to the person receiving the award…just so they know.
  • The blog receiving the award does nothing except enjoy it. No lists of facts, no lists of nominations, no lists of questions…just no lists. Of course, the nominated blog is free to grab the picture for bragging purposes. :D
  • Go forth and spread the love, people! ;)

I shall spread the love by nominating FANgirl – The Blog for this Spectacular Blog Award. This is one of my favorite sites that talks about so many things that matter to me: female fans, Star Wars, storytelling, female characters. Tricia and the other contributors are smart, kind, enthusiastics: in one word, they are true fangirls.

The Spectacular Blog Award was created by Nerd in the Brain.