As the novel really revolves around Kora, I figured I would make the first character bio post about her. SPOILER ALERT: If you have not read the novel fully and don’t want some plot points revealed, you might want to come back here after you finish.
“The Crimson League” began with the concept of a sorcerer who has overthrown the royal family, and then the resistance group that sprang up to fight against him. I immediately knew he would have a sister who was a major player in that resistance; Kora as a character took much longer to form. Originally, I planned to have a handful of college students from the United States, all with varying backgrounds, someone travel between dimensions to Herezoth, where the would meet up with the Crimson League. I planned to name the main character Lucia: Lucia Jedword, to be exact. I’m not sure why, but I’m still fond of the name for a character. I ended up using it in a short story.
It did not take long–maybe twenty pages–for me to realize I was having trouble making that scenario work in a way that made sense. I put the novel on hold for years and worked on other projects before I returned to it the summer before my senior year at the University of Alabama. I decided I did not need an obvious connection to the world I knew to make the story interesting or the characters people readers could relate to. The protagonist, I realized, could be an ordinary girl from a small town, who, like the dimension travelers in my original vision, could be thrust into the resistance movement more or less against her will. And so Kora developed.
I had no trouble naming her. I knew she would have a lot of pluck, a lot of heart, and within minutes decided on “Kora” for her name, from the Spanish “corazón,” which means heart. I came up with “Porteg” out of nowhere, mainly because of the assonance, the repetition of the “o” in the stressed syllables. I liked the way the sounded together. I suppose I could have kept “Lucia” as a name, but I’m glad I decided not to.
Kora has a lot of traits that I value in people: she’s true to her word, she’s honest about things, she works hard, and she’s not all that self-centered. She has her flaws as well, and I had a lot of fun discovering her story as I wrote it! I find her creative and resourceful, more so than her friend Sedder, who has more of a logical mindset. I imagine it would have been Kora, when they were children, to first suggest they imagine the world of Trenzern and the adventures they shared there. I also find Kora quite personal, very private in her way, and I think it would really have bugged her when she set sail for Traigland to think the journal she wrote before joining the Crimson League was in someone else’s hands. Just as much as to stay in Herezoth, she would have wanted that journal with her, or to know it destroyed so that no one could read it.