The Character James Gentry, Grief, And Growth

I had a great discussion with a fan the other day about the character of James in For Steam And Country. As a mild spoiler (have you not read the book yet and you’re here?) he loses his parents, and as we’re wrapped up in Zaira’s perspective, we don’t see much grief from him. He goes quiet for a bit, and gets some resolve to where he decides to put his all into becoming a Knight of the Crystal Spire.

We don’t see the interchanges behind the scenes, where he claims to have met with Princess Reina, and she recommends him to become a knight — something very few ever get the honor of having. And so we don’t see much in terms of the depth of James on screen.

Part of why I wrote “Knight Training” (out July 18th) is because James needed a little rounding out as a character on screen. Part of this is the limits of first person narratives, where we’re really following Zaira. If James is away crying somewhere, Zaira doesn’t see it unless she’s there, and she’s stuck in her own whirlwind of adventure where, from the moment James suffers immense loss, the pace goes at pretty incredible speed for her life.

But the other part is that we all process grief differently. James got quiet, internalized it, pushed the emotion down as a lot of men are wont to do in situations like this. He resolved to throw himself into work so he doesn’t have to deal with it and keeps pushing himself harder and harder in that regard because of it. Part of “Knight Training”, things get far worse and far lonier for James in his isolation, and he keeps turning to work because of it.

When we get to this point, sometimes we do foolish things, injure ourselves or worse… and you’ll have to see how it goes in Knight Training from there. Just an interesting discussion and thought I’d pass along as it makes for an interesting character study.

Do check out Knight Training when it comes out, and catch up on the first appearance of James Gentry in For Steam And Country before then. Read For Steam and Country on Amazon here.

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