What are your most and least favorite characters to work with in The Infernal Battalion?
Favorite is really hard! It’s like asking someone to choose a favorite among their children. But I can talk about difficulty a little bit — some parts of The Infernal Battalion were definitely easier to write than others.
Of the major characters, Marcus’ part of this book was probably the easiest for me to write. That’s actually something of a reversal from earlier books — he had much the harder part of The Price of Valor, for example. What it generally comes down to is how much of his plotline is relatively straightforward military stuff, and how much is twistier political or interpersonal stuff.
Marcus is in his element with the former, and not so much with the latter, so I try to switch between them to keep his story in balance. But from an author’s point of view, the military stuff is very straightforward to write. In some ways, I think this is because that’s the part of the book that sticks closest to history, so I have some guideposts as to how it “should” look — generally the challenge is figuring out how to fit a reasonable depiction of events into a point of view.
Anyway, in The Infernal Battalion Marcus is mostly marching with the army and fighting against desperate odds, so his whole plot went relatively smoothly. You can actually tell from my outline how difficult I feel something’s going to be — personal conversations usually have a slew of notes about how things need to go, while battles just have a few lines because I’m confident I can fill in the details as I write.
While Raesinia’s plot was relatively complex, it’s also largely separated from the others until later, so in The Infernal Battalion it was definitely Winter’s story that I agonized over the most. Part of this is just the nature of the story, as I said above — her plot is more personal and less military. Partly, too, it’s that Winter’s story has become so central to the series that there are a ton of moving pieces that needed to mesh just right in order to get her to the ending, so slotting things together sometime felt like building a watch with tweezers!
Ultimately, though, Winter probably has the most difficult emotional journey of any of the characters in the book, and that contributes a lot too. I love working with characters like that — which is why I can’t really talk about favorites — but it definitely means those are the parts of the novel I sweated over and revised most often.
I’ll also put in a word for Cyte, who was probably the most interesting of the non-POV characters to write. She came kind of out of nowhere and surprised me. Secondary characters are fun that way — often they’re not in the outline, so they can develop in ways that startle even the author!