SPOILER ALERT: this entry references some plot points of “The Crimson League,” the first book in the Herezoth trilogy (YA fantasy).
Kansten Carder was a really fun character to write. I liked her take-no-garbage-from-anyone attitude, her sense of self-respect, and I liked how flawed she turned out to be. For me, at least, that really made her human. Though there are some references to an unhappy childhood on her part, and she refuses to recognize her family, she never gives specifics about her past in “The Crimson League.” I’ve always imagined that she came from and rose above abusive origins. Being lucky enough to be raised with all the support every child deserves, I’ve always admired those who succeeded coming from nothing. Kansten’s one of those people.
Another thing I found interesting about Kansten is the pieces of myself I see reflected in her. I’ve been asked before whether I based characters on people I know. I always say no, because I haven’t, but I qualify that I see aspects of my own personality in a number of my characters. Kansten’s no exception: I tended to gripe and complain as a teenager, a lot, and about everything. My father (I had to laugh) even saw an ad for this t-shirt once in a magazine and showed it to me, because he said I needed to have it. I almost laughed when I realized that part of Kansten was really a part of me. Maybe that explains how Kora manages to be so patient with her!
Kansten and Bennie hold different sets of values, but their common roots (as neighbors from a small farming village) bring them together. Kansten, being older than Bennie and grateful to Bennie’s grandmother for giving her some guidance when she was a child, feels a sense of responsibility where Bendelof’s concerned. That’s the reason Kansten stayed with the League so long despite her frequent clashes with Laskenay and Menikas, and the reason she’s so terrified when she and Bennie are captured together: she’s frightened Zalski will hurt Bennie. A shared desire to protect and shelter the redhead as much as possible is one of the things that first brings Kansten and Ranler together, I’d think.
Kora’s friendship with Kansten is one of my favorite aspects of the novel. It doesn’t come easily, but few things of true worth do. Kansten and Kora have different strengths that really complement each other. That’s why they make a great team. Kansten’s fearless when Kora feels paralyzed, and Kora keeps Kansten centered and focused. That’s how meaningful friendships work. You accept another person, warts and all, because they, in turn, accept your shortcomings. As a result, you’re both better off.