When I was writing ‘Reconquista‘ I had a discussion with a number of other writers about how much time it takes to develop a book’s main characters .
I did quite a lot of work to understand the personalities of the main characters in my own mind, even if some of their traits and foibles didn’t eventually appear in the final book. So, for example, I could tell you what Nathan thinks about girls; why Rebecca likes preparing certain foods and that Atta likes particular kinds of music.
This wasn’t a waste of my time. The extra depth of understanding would help me in future. Now that I am writing the sequel, I know, instinctively, how my characters will react in new circumstances. I can also develop them further by building on what I already know about them.
All of the characters who set out on their journeys in the first book now face a very different set of circumstances when they return home. They have all, to an extent, grown up. The most obvious example is Miguel, who is now ready to take on the mantle of the head of his household and family ( though he still doesn’t like authority ). To an extent, he has been preparing for this his whole life, though trying to avoid the responsibility.
Atta too has matured, he has lost his innocence and become much more sceptical about the world and the people around him. He used to idolise his uncle ( and still, to an extent, idolises his father ) but that absolute faith has been punctured by reality. Uncle Taf isn’t a terrible person, he’s just not the perfect being Atta thought he was. The Atta we meet in the sequel is a much more pragmatic person and much more independent minded than the Atta who we first saw on the battlements of Jerez during the siege.
Rebecca has grown from being a clever but somewhat foolhardy girl into a strong and strong-minded young woman. Her experiences have made her self-reliant, like Atta, and toughened her up. She is now much more likely to question things and take her own decisions, to try to determine her own future.
Ben has, perhaps, had the most traumatic growing to do. He has become both self-aware and aware of how others see him (this new knowledge makes him ashamed). He is still pompous and self-regarding, but he is much less judgemental of others, having learned a few lessons about his own behaviour. He is also in a different position in regard to his family than before they all set out.
All of them are still feeling their way, but the individual who is searching most obviously for self-definition is Nathan. He knew only what he didn’t want, but he now begins to realise that he has to decide what he does want and that he can do that best by himself. The sequel is, to an extent, his attempt to define himself and make decisions which will determine his path for much of the rest of his life.
Telling how all this unfolds, within an exciting plot and sub-plots is what i am trying to do right now. I’m already on Part Two of the sequel to ‘Reconquista’. I’ll let you know how I’m progressing.