I don’t remember a time when I struggled to create characters. I think its the cornerstone of my whole creative process, I’ve done it effortlessly since I was a child. I tend to think that they make themselves up. It starts with something small, like a color, which through my own indescribable-even-to-myself association game leads to physical properties and a necessary function in the world, their relation to it, to the other characters or countries that already exist in the same framework. Base themes are culled from human nature and systems, but the specific world doesn’t quite already exist to inform the first characters, it is somehow generated in tandem. Ergo, the world wouldn’t be it without them.
As a kid I played role playing games. In fact me and my two younger brothers made one up completely from scratch, with our own probability engine that improved on the usability and realism found in those laminated paperback tomes we studied and cherished. We made it on the basis of a many worlds theory, “dimensions” that your character could travel to via “rips” that were randomly found in the main world. Eventually we had several dimensions that were closely related to the main one and they started to intermingle. Many colorful characters came out of it. I loved how free and limitless it was, yet inimically ours. We had developed our own style of high fantasy.
But high fantasy comes from somewhere. We were foot soldiers to the cause. There is a common impetus to get at the root of things, the study of survival, the formation of cultural identities. In this way mythology and philosophy are stabbing at the same core. There is a chaotic, fractal pattern of causality that forms and destroys everything, it is stored within our genes and it programs us to continue its design. Through allegory we make models of it to understand it better, because we are also the curious spectators of our own existence.
My characters can be born out of a simple color scheme, but my subconscious has archetypal information mapped to those colors, then the form they take, the clothes they wear, the expressions and moods they have. At first I have to trust they mean something to the whole. Later I jam together the puzzle pieces of the overall schema, the allegorical worldview that that is caused in my mind, like reality, by relationships. The way it has formed echoes the same way I form my idea of the world, and the idea of who I am, all models of real things.