By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
In a way writing characters is a bit like a friendship. Life has brought you together for some reason and you only grow to know that person by sharing good and bad times together. That’s when you both learn each other’s characters that deepen or break your friendship. Hopefully like your characters they become part of your life forever.
Science fiction and fantasy are full of time traveling heroes. It’s kind of hard to come up with an original angle without bringing some sort of comparison to something else in the genre.
To be honest Varran was the least developed character when I started writing the series. I knew who he was and what had happened to him. However I could only visualise him with white hair and beautiful sapphire eyes similar to the actress Meg Foster. He hated the military and possessed the most powerful weapon that once lead the Xereban armies. Varran is the typical scientist that has touched parts of reality that should be left alone; in this instance time travel. A genius ahead of his time from the planet Xereba, Varran’s break through is fully supported and funded by the government. Without his knowledge Varran’s work is being watched closely by General Solos. Solos is the most trusted military leader in the entire world. He has successfully saved their homeworld twice from invasion.Pretending to beforend Varran, Solos has him integrate this new temporal technology into his new battleship/space station, the Juggernaught. When Varran realises what Solos is really planning to do with his work, he goes underground on the run. When he is just about to complete the ultimate test of sending a person back in time, Solos’ squad tracks Varran down. A barrage of weapons fire short circuits the machine sending it out of control. Varran is plunged into a terrifying vision of the universe being consumed by a great darkness. the attack has also released a massive temporal wave that is aging the planet to death. When Varran wakes up he is aboard the Juggernaught with the last of the survivors.
Their home is gone. They have nowhere to go except the one place that Varran has seen in the temporal vision. They must find the third planet in a system of nine; a blue green world that is unknown to them, Earth. Saddled with the guilt of destroying his entire world, Varran leads the last of his people with only their faith that everything happens for a reason to keep them strong. Once they reach Earth the survivors blend in with the human populace leaving Varran to keep watch for the coming darkness. So far, Varran is unique as far as background is concerned but how else could I make him different?
Initially because of his being caught in a temporal explosion, I was going to make him immortal. Then I thought, how boring and limited is that. There is no drama in immortality. So I came up with the idea that what if Varran realised he wasn’t aging but did that mean immortality? As he tells Tyran at one point, he isn’t brave enough to throw himself in front of a speeding bus to find out. Additionally with the entirety of time and space at his fingertips, he was afraid of travelling to the future. His culture had no religion but were governed by the deeply held mantra that everything happens for a reason. For Varran, what if he discovered something in the future that changed his actions in the present threatening what should be. He reluctantly allows Michael to visit the 24th century in the Survivor and In Last, Will and Testament Tyran meets someone from Varran’s personal future that has fallen back through time.
A time traveller afraid of the future and carrying the blame for the destruction of his own world makes him a much more interesting character. he has several near death instances but we never get the answer to that question. he keeps the existence of the Juggernaught and his people a secret knowing humanity is not ready for the reveal. That said, he does make human friends across the years as seen in the stories The Moon Once More and Darkness in the World. In the former he sits at the bedside of his terminally ill friend helpless. The man with all the time in the universe desperately trying to give his dying friend just a little bit more.
The arrival of Jacke, Michael and Tyran bring out the fatherly side of him. At first he didn’t want them to be part of his solitary life but over their adventures together he mellows to the point they are his reason to keep going. Over the course of the first four books, Varran suddenly finds his family has quickly expanded. He is a grandfather figure to Michael’s daughter, Sarah and openly welcomed to the celebrations we have in every family.
In Tempest he discovers what happened the day Xereba exploded which changes everything. After that he loosens up a little trying to learn all about pop culture references and dressing a bit more stylishly. We learn he was engaged twice to both a man and a woman and fell in love with an Irish woman during the Famine who was murdered. In Red Water we learn his claim that he lived a solitary life during the first years of the Juggernaught’s arrival on Earth was a white lie. He walked the Earth to learn all about their new home and the place that would be the last battlefield between good and evil. He spent time with the Native Americans as we learn in Red Water where he rescued a Sasquatch child called Jacko. Having saved a vineyard’s crop in France he spent several months at the family’s estate home learning to dance, paint and ride horses.
He learns that the darkness he saw in his vision comes in many forms. He becomes obsessed with finding and stopping the Mentara after he stops a human harvest in Summer’s End. When he finally finds their home world in The Belbridge Mystery, he finds his steadfast beliefs shattered to the core. He realises their adventures have left him prejudice and assumptive much to his detriment.
So really my point is Varran grew through my stories. I learned who he was as he taught me when i took them to new worlds and new times. Any writers out there will tell you the same thing. Sometimes a character will guide you on what they want to be. You as the writer will place them on one road when all of a sudden they change direction to do something you never thought they would. A lot of the time it is for the better and is something that is a joy when writing a story. There’s an almost one on one relationship with these characters that live in your head. They travel to our world through ,my words and imagination gaining a life of their own. When those sudden twists happen you can see them smile and nod at you in your mind letting you know they are where they need to be in the journey you share with them. In a way writing characters is a bit like a friendship. Life has brought you together for some reason and you only grow to know that person by sharing good and bad times together. That’s when you both learn each other’s characters that deepen or break your friendship. Hopefully like your characters they become part of your life forever.
That journey is far from over because we have yet to feel the fallout from the events of The Belbridge Mystery but believe me when I tell you, you ain’t seen nothing yet.