Getting Inside a Character’s Head – Part 3: Answers with Catilen

Getting Inside a Character’s Head – Part 3: Answers with Catilen

A few weeks back I used my own suggested character exercises with Domerin. I enjoyed stretching my creative muscles and I thought it might be fun to repeat the exercise with a character from Island of Lost Forevers. So let’s take a look at our leading lady; Catilen.

Where does your character live? Go with them through the door and tour every room of their abode.
At the open of our story, Catilen lives in a small townhouse on the outskirts of San Francisco. It’s a small development with houses pressed close together and no shared green space. It’s a one-story building with a decent-sized, fenced backyard. The fenced backyard was of particular importance to Catilen because she prefers to have privacy for her outdoor activities. The fence is high, so it’s difficult to look over, and has no space between the slats. A small set of three stairs lead up to the front doorway, beside which is a small mailbox.

Inside the door is a small foyer area with a closet set into the hallway and a desk along the opposite side for letters, keys and such. This space opens into the living room on the right hand side, and continues down the hallway on the left. The living room is medium sized with a couch and a pair of chairs. There is a small TV set atop a small entertainment center, but Catilen doesn’t often use it, aside from watching movies. There are several bookshelves scattered throughout her house, filled with books. The books are well-organized and not overly stuffed onto the shelves. Small statues and figures also decorate the shelves with the books.

Continuing left from the living room is the kitchen. This is an open concept space, so the two rooms flow into each other. The kitchen is small and narrow and a small dining room table sits on the boundary between living room and kitchen. From the kitchen, there is a wide set of glass double doors that lead to the backyard.

The narrow hallway outside the living room, straight back from the entryway, leads to a group of three rooms. The first room on the left-hand side is the master bedroom, the larger of the two. Across the hall on the left is the guest room and the house’s only bathroom. The bathroom is small and wastes no space, but contains a combination tub/shower.

The walls of Catilen’s house are painted in earthen tones. They are decorated with bright, colourful paintings of a whimsical nature, usually related to the various elements or seasons. The house is well organized and usually clean, though Catilen rarely has visitors.

What is your character’s normal routine? Go with your character for an entire day.
Prior to her arrival on the island, Catilen was a literature professor at the University of San Francisco. Her typical work day started early, with a light breakfast and a cup of coffee. A second cup of coffee would be poured into a thermos for later. After preparing for work, Catilen would drive into the city. She always left ample time for the commute, in case she got stuck in traffic. A typical day at the office for her would involve giving regular lectures, meeting with students outside of classes, and attending whatever meetings required her attention.

In the evening, she would return home, cook herself a small dinner, and spend some time reading. Most of her spare time, even on weekends, was devoted either to marking of course material, preparing for future lectures, or reading through manuscripts for students she agreed to mentor. Catilen was a largely solitary creature, though she would occasionally go out with Damian and made certain to visit her mother every weekend.

Catilen’s time on the island transformed her into a social creature. She makes a habit of spending breakfast with her family, but spends the rest of her time moving throughout the bathhouse, interacting with guests. If there are tasks which need her attention, she deals with them right away, or sets aside time for them in the afternoon. If there is cooking or cleaning to be done, she usually tends to it in the afternoon. In the evening, she returns to socialization with the bathhouse guests, joining them all in the bathhouse’s grand dining room. Evenings are usually spent in the gardens or on the beach.

What is the most defining moment in your character’s history?
Prior to the events of Island of Lost Forevers, the most defining moment in Catilen’s history took place while she was in high school. Catilen has been an empath all her life; she can sense the emotions of others. As a child, she struggled to gain control of her abilities, unable to prevent ‘overhearing’ the emotions of others. Growing up in a small town, this caused her to gain a reputation as strange. Some residents regarded her as a ‘demon child’ because of her uncanny insights.

By the time she reached high school, Catilen had few friends. But aside from the struggle with her abilities, she was a typical teenager with typical hopes and dreams. She had a crush on one of the high school’s star football players and hoped to catch his attention. When she succeeded, she was so thrilled she thought nothing of it. She had finally managed to perfect her shielding techniques, or so she thought, and she hoped she could finally turn the corner to becoming a normal girl.

Disaster struck. The boy’s interests turned out to be a lie, a prank set up by him and several of the other popular kids. Of course, news about their ‘break up’ reached the entire school by the time she arrived the next morning. The constant assault of mocking, both silent and verbal, eroded her fledgling shields until they evaporated, exposing her to all the cruelty of her teenage peers. The experience left her raw and untrusting. It ultimately led her to move as far away as possible after graduation, and to choose a large place so she could ‘disappear into a crowd’ and escape her reputation.

How does your character view the world?
Catilen has a mystic view of the world. Her religion shapes the way she views everyday occurrences. Catilen is a witch, though she is a solitary practitioner and has never been interested in joining a coven. She tries to live by the tenants of witchcraft, taking only what she requires and giving as much as she can. Catilen draws a distinctive line between things she wants and things she needs. She truly believes that putting positive energy and action into the world will result in positive results and events returning to you. She abhors hatred and will do everything in her power both to avoid experiencing it and dissolve it when she encounters it (logical considering her empathic abilities).

Despite her past experiences, Catilen believes that everyone is inherently good, and will seek to find the good in people even when it may be hidden. That is not to say she trusts everyone – she doesn’t – but she will give people several chances to prove themselves, especially if she thinks they can be nudged in the right direction.

As a bonus, here’s a fun fact about Catilen:
Catilen has chosen a magickal name which she only uses during ritual (a common practice among witches). The original draft of Island of Lost Forevers included her speaking this name. But I decided the reasoning was absurd and cut it, leaving her magickal name a secret.

If you’re interested in learning more about Catilen’s adventures, don’t forget you can read the first three chapters of Island of Lost Forevers free.

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