I decided to tackle the ‘Beautiful People’ challenge/exercise/thingy that I saw on Cait’s blog (Paper Fury), because this time, the theme is friendship. And man, I am all about that friendship vibe in books, and I thought it would be a good way to tell you a bit more about The Knight Shift beyond how I’m approaching rewrites, which seems to be all I’ve talked about lately.
This novel focuses on a group of university students, and there’s a lot of friendship going on there, particularly in larger groups. However, the central triumvirate is Ani, Peter and David. It would be unfair to leave any of them out, so I’m going to write about all three of them.
1. How long have they known each other, and how close are they?
Peter met David the term before he came to university, so he was seventeen at the time. Ani met them both in her first week. Since the book covers their first academic year and some of the summer, they’ve known each other a bit under a year. They’ve spent a lot of time together, though, and they live on the same corridor, so they know each other really well. They fight together, travel together, and live together.
2. What’s their earliest memory of being best friends?
It’s not particularly early as they weren’t childhood friends or anything, but I’d probably go with when Peter cooks a meal for the whole corridor at the beginning of the book, and makes sure to make a vegetarian lasagne specifically for Ani. That’s when she realises he’s not so annoying after all. But they didn’t know yet that they’d be best friends.
3. Do they fight? How long do they typically fight for?
Well, I mean, they’re knights, and David and Peter are regular sparring partners, so… Heh. I guess that’s not what you meant. Actually, hitting each other with swords every couple of days helps them take out their frustration and avoid arguments, but they do crop up sometimes, although they usually don’t last long.
4. Are their personalities similar or do they complement each other?
Ani and David are in some ways more similar than David and Peter or Ani and Peter — they’re both total nerds, and watch Star Trek together sometimes, even though Pete’s the one who does Physics! They’re also studying more similar subjects, which include combinations of arts and histories. That said, Ani was raised quite differently, so her values aren’t necessarily the same as the other two’s ideals.
5. Who is the leader of their friendship (if anyone)?
There isn’t a leader as such. Peter introduced Ani to David, but since they live next door to each other, they probably would have met anyway. And a lot of the things that make them become friends are external.
6. Do they have any secrets from each other?
Mostly, they’re quite open with each other. Okay, at first David and Peter didn’t tell Ani that they were modern-day knights…. because hey, that’s not what you do. And there have been various things that have come out over time (backstory), but for the most part they’re not keeping anything major. Well, Peter has one thing, but to tell you that would be a spoiler, so…
7. How well do they know each other’s quirks and habits?
Very well. They live all in a row on the same corridor, so it’s kind of hard to hide when they’re being nocturnal, eating or dressing bizarrely, or the fact that they spend most of their time sword-fighting. David also has some mental health problems (Type II bipolar, an anxiety disorder) and his coping mechanisms for that were something Ani noticed but didn’t understand at first; she understood when he explained.
8. What kind of things do they like to do together?
Hit things with swords. Watch Star Trek. Go to the beach. Fight anarchists. Track down each others’ missing parents / family history. Eat food. Procrastinate on actually studying for their degrees.
9. Describe each character’s fashion style (use pictures if you’d like!) How are their styles different / similar?
Man, this is a hard one. Ani, Peter and David actually have the least distinctive fashion taste of pretty much all my characters — Camille, for example, is a big burly black guy who wears floral prints and pastel colours; Kay, the leader of the knights, has been seen in a penguin onesie more than once; Scarlett’s favourite hoodie is bright orange. Etc. Ani was brought up as a bit of a hippie, so now as an act of rebellion she refuses to wear anything tie-dyed or similar. She’s all about the practical: jeans, t-shirt, hoodie. David wears clothes that are comfy, and spends way too much time in his pyjamas. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I imagine Peter is a bit smarter, maybe buttoned shirts with jeans. Then again, they spend a lot of time in training gear.
10. How would their lives be different without each other?
David was a knight for a while before he knew them, and Peter and Ani definitely became a support network for him after they became friends, so without them I think he’d struggle more with his anxiety and he’d have fewer people to look after him on bad days. Peter would probably still be a knight, and in some ways he might be happier and less self-destructive (which relates to his secret from earlier), but he’d also miss them — they get him, in a way that a lot of people won’t. As for Ani, without them she’d probably never have become a knight, would be on better terms with her family, and would have a lot more time to focus on her degree… but she may never have met Kay, her girlfriend. So really, it’s all a matter of balance.
That was fun, to think about my characters as friends more than knights or students or anything else that they are within the context of the novel. I found the question about what they do together particularly tricky — which is maybe a sign that they need more of a life outside the Blue Knights…
Anyway. Now you know a bit more about the central friendship of The Knight Shift. I hope it was interesting. :)