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Character Focus: Harbuu Valenti

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As we said when we first started this blog, we’re all writers, not that you’d know it from our recent posts. Therefore, we’ve decided to each do a character focus post for our favourite characters from our WIPs. Through these posts, we hope to give you an insight into the decisions we make about our characters, and what they mean to us. There will be no spoilers, but possibly references to character development. You can expect Kit’s in about five years…

The character I’ve chosen is Bu. In all the different versions of Fate, Bu has probably been the most consistent character. This might be to do with the fact that she was one of exactly two genuinely nice characters in the original concept, or more to do with the fact that the plot relies on her heavily, despite not being the title character.

If you haven’t read Fate, here’s a short summary of who Bu is. When Fate finally makes some friends, it’s with the group that Bu is tightly integrated into. She’s one of the most accepting members of the group, but also the one most keen to find out what he sees in her future. It’s this curiosity that eventually unleashes all hell on the group. Bu’s storyline reads like a chaotic game of fortunately, unfortunately; she just can’t catch a break.

Without giving too much away, Bu has had one of the hardest lives of all the characters. However, where some characters have been made distant and cold by their struggles, Bu becomes more extroverted the more she is struggling, almost to mask it. It’s when she stops doing this that the others know that there’s a real problem. Along with the struggles she faces in the visionary world, Bu has had a long-term battle with depression. For me, this was another key part of the story, as it’s this pessimism that drives her to pepper Fate with questions; having had so many people try to convince her of a light at the end of the tunnel, she wants to know that it really exists.

Another key part of Bu’s life is the unhealthy, suffocating relationship that she has with her boyfriend, Alex. When I initially wrote their relationship, I was just imitating my own experiences mixed with what I had read in YA books. It wasn’t until I grew up a bit that I realised just how messed up their relationship really is, but in the later drafts of Fate, this is deliberate. Sick of seeing toxic relationships in YA lit, I fully intend to use them as a bad example, the extent of which is explored more in my plans for the sequel, Death.

Equally as unhealthy is the relationship that she has with her family. A mixture of past trauma and clashing dreams have meant a loss of communication between Bu and her family. This means that, like many of the others, she leans on the group and on Alex for support. So yeah, just a little bit of a tragic backstory.

The name Harbuu is a Swahili name meaning “warrior”. I searched and searched for the right name for Bu, but this was the only one that seemed to fit, especially when shortened to “Bu”. I tend to go for more unusual names anyway, as I don’t like using the names of people I already know for main characters.

Over the years, Kit, Lydia and I have created various bits of art of Bu. Below is the best of what we made. Click on the images to enlarge them.

 

Even if you haven’t read Fate, you’ll see two distinct versions of Bu. While this is hard to explain in a spoiler-free way, this was an important distinction. The events of part one have a life-changing impact on all the teens, but Bu especially, and as such an open person it seemed logical that she would wear it, physically.

So, there you have it; our first character focus. Fate isn’t currently available to read, as I’m taking on the mammoth task of fixing all my 4-year-old mistakes, but when it’s done it’ll probably be back on Tablo, along with the rest of my stuff. It’s going well so far, though – today I wrote an extra 2,000 words, which for me is an achievement. Keep an eye out for our next character focus post, coming soon.


The line art used for the 2016 image of Bu can be found on DeviantArt and I would strongly recommend checking out her gallery. She’s one of my favourite artists!

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