Omake: Morgan and Tania, and the Plot

by Matt P.

As a reminder, Border is on hiatus until February 2nd while I prepare Book 2 and the possibility of a short story. All posts this month will be on things related to Border, but not actual plot updates–these posts will be about background and behind the scenes things. They are labelled as Omake, which is a Japanese term from anime and manga for extra or bonus parts, because I can.

What Changed: Morgan and Tania

The biggest changes to Book 1 came from Morgan and Tania, the two (spoilers) Faerie Queens. From the very beginning they were going to have the positions they had–Morgan was going to be a doctor and the Winter Queen, and Tania a newspaper mogul and Summer Queen–but they were going to be far more remote characters than they are in the story. Even more Morgan than Tania was originally going to be a more enigmatic and mysterious figure, who when it comes out that she is a Queen of Faerie is treated with concern and sometimes even suspicion. She was going to be a powerful force that wasn’t always helpful to the Border crew in the investigation.

But that wasn’t something that lasted very long, obviously. First and foremost it was because I wanted another adult female character for the cast, rather than having her come in and out mysteriously. But a second big reason was I found that I liked having Walter and Morgan in scenes, and I felt like there was a good possibility of them becoming interesting love interests. This also meant that I changed her backstory a lot to make her a more sympathetic and human figure.

In Border as it ended up, Morgan and Tania are Mab and Titania but not the FIRST Mab and Titania–that those names are titles that have been held by other women, and that there is a very rare tradition of successive Queens in the Faerie courts. Originally they were going to have been the ONLY Mab and Titania, thousands of years old instead of centuries and more remote from the human world despite their being connected to it by the Border. Changing them to being younger (relatively speaking), and half-human, helped them be easier to relate to, and gave fertile ground for their background with Oberon.

Tania stayed much more the same person she was before, because she ended up being more of a foil to Morgan. Part of what I wanted to play with was the personalities of the Faerie courts as they are often depicted. The exact reasons why they are different are still to come out, but they are obvious throughout book one. Tania is hot-headed and remote, while Morgan is more sensitive and soft-hearted–she can also be sad and serious. The two also worked better as clone characters and parallels for Antigone and Siobhan with their new backstory.

What Changed: The Plot

The other thing that changed a lot was the plot. I’ll talk more about my writing process later, but I didn’t start book 1 with a lot of idea about where it was going. I knew the main characters (Walter, Siobhan, Antigone, Ryan, William Alexander, Morgan, Tania), and I knew there was going to be the Three Stripes killings–but I had no idea what they were at the time. I started to develop the idea that they were related to the Faerie Courts, but originally they were going to be Faerie power activists rather than anything about Oberon. Oberon was a later development that helped define and sharpen the Three Stripes group’s opposition to Morgan and Tania. It also helps them be more important later, because if you look at book 1–the Hound disappears and is at large, as is one (or more, hint hint) Lord of Nightmare.

The whole Nightmare sequence also came about very, very late. Once I’d figured out that the Three Stripes killings were Oberon trying to draw out Morgan and Tania (whom he couldn’t recognize as part of the geasa), I figured the next step was to give them something they couldn’t pass up–a chance to go get him. They suspected it to be a trap, but the idea of having the trap be getting them stuck in Nightmare was pretty much done as I was writing it. Ultimately I’m glad that I decided to, because it gave me two additional worlds to work with (Dream and Nightmare) which will be fun to work with later. Dream and Nightmare are especially reminiscent to me both of concepts from the Wheel of Time series (tel’aran’rhiod) and from Japanese and Japanese inspired worlds (Yume-Do from Legend  of the Five Rings comes to mind), even though I wasn’t thinking of these when I first made it.

The plot also directly changed at the end. Originally I intended them to come back from Nightmare and then, days later, have to chase Oberon again. But a loyal reader (hi, Charles!) commented when they were trying to get through Nightmare that he thought we were close to the climax. That got me thinking, and it made me realize that it really did make more sense to go from Nightmare right to the climax; it would be far too repetitive for me to have another so similarly set-up scene. And that is one of the things I enjoy about the format of Border, is that I was able to make changes based on good points raised by readers.

Next time in Omake: How many people read Border, and what are my next steps for Book 1?