Today, I thought I’d provide a little more background on the inspiration and character description for Lyssa’s mutually-hated-family, the Peates.

In 2005, I went to go visit one of my dear friends in the land of Sverige (that’s Sweden for you uncultured swine). Along the way, we visited (what I think – Tove, please let me know if I’ve got the wrong Slott) was Drottningholm Slott (again, Drottningholm Castle), which provided me the inspiration for Lyssa’s home of The Manor:

Drottningholm Slott is called the “Versailles of the North” for the beautiful, expansive gardens. Even when we visited in winter (yes, I visited Sweden in the winter), they were still beautiful. I remember walking the gravel paths and imagining Lyssa doing the same; there’s something about walking around an old castle that puts the inspiration right in me.

When I picked the nearly-complete book up in February to publish it, I took to the internetz to add in some more Swedish tributes.

This lovely lady is Hedvig Eleonora, the mother and grandmother of two of Sweden’s kings. And by mother and grandmother, I mean total boss and Queen of the castle. I saw a lot of key similarities between Hedvig and Mrs. Dr. Sostas Peate, so I finally gave the latter a name – Eleonora Hedvig Serann Peate. (In the first couple of iterations, she had no name, because symbolism.)

The Seranns are descended from a long line of Deep Space Explorers, the first being Jora Serann, who was
the ancestor in the book who first settled B-39837 and built the Manor. He was an incredibly pious man, reverent of the giant Black Hole of Doom (aka Leveman’s Vortex) perched close enough to see in day and night-time. If Eleonora’s demands to attend Temple weren’t enough to compel the kids to do so, then the constant threat of the Vortex in the sky did the trick.

As it would turn out, the real Hedvig Eleonora had a granddaughter named Hedvig Sophia of Sweden, which became some of the inspiration for Sera, Lyssa’s eldest sister.

Sera always had the name Sera, in all the iterations of Razia that she appeared in. Sera came before the name Serann, the maternal bloodline of B-39837. Since the Seranns were notorious for having tons of children (the image of the youngest to the oldest at the dinner table was partially drawn from dinners at my Grandmother’s house), there was always a Serann boy for a Serann girl to marry.

Eleonora, however, chose to marry a young, brooding DSE named Sostas Peate. It was a scandal, of course, especially when rumors started that the man Eleonora loved was most interested in studying the Vortex. Never home, and when he was home, he was always in a foul mood, and then – scandal upon scandal – he decided to pluck the most disobedient child from his growing brood and disappear with her for weeks at a time. And, we all know how that ended… (well, if you read Double Life, you’d have a clue).

Sera, unfortunately, seems to have followed in her mother’s footsteps and married a man who is never around. Sera Eleonora Hedvig Peate (von Schweden) is married to a scientist, Frederick, who is rarely at the Manor. Sera lives there with her children, as is the Serann tradition; all the offspring have a place to stay until the lastborn daughter is married, then the firstborn daughter inherits the house.

Sera is her mother’s right hand, the one who was present with most of the disciplining (see: Lyssa Peate), but is deeply religious and believes that piety is the way to eternal happiness. She spends an inordinate amount of time in Temple, praying, thinking, contemplating.

Dorst is the third eldest Peate sibling, and to my great surprise, has fast become an integral character to the series as I write it. When I first wrote this story arc, he was a throwaway character. As I began to work on Alliances this year, I decided to make him her new supervisor. This has opened the door to a great deal of possibilities. You’ll see a change in Dorst starting in Alliances based on the events in Double Life, one which goes COMPLETELY over Lyssa’s head.

A big life lesson for me (for all of us) is that people do not spring into reality the moment they enter ours, and they do not cease to exist once they leave. A person is the sum of their experiences, their reactions are not simply because they are “mean” or “hateful.” Learning to understand where a person is coming from – empathy, basically – is something that Lyssa begins to learn during her slow emotional growth that is the backbone of the series.