When I began writing the story of Aret, I knew the protagonist would have a hostile male counterpart, but the details of his character remained a mystery to me. His early conception was as the villain Rotpac – a dragon slayer resembling a vile, decrepit sorcerer. He even had a nasty little henchman. I remember crafting a scene in which he and his toady tortured the protagonist’s mate and forced her to watch. It was gross.
As the story gained momentum, the male character grew in importance, and as his role morphed, his grossness became an issue. Although he was developing into a more complete human being, accompanied by some engaging attributes, at his core, he was still an unsavory individual.
It soon occurred to me that having such an unpleasant primary character might not be agreeable to readers, so I strove to make him less repellent. His name changed from Rotpac to Sien Dolsmati; his appearance, communication, and motivations shifted, becoming softer and gentler, while maintaining the threatening edge required for the story.
These changes weren’t made only for readers, however. An equally compelling reason to make him more desirable was for the sake of our protagonist, Diana Scarlett, who has to spend a lot of time with Sien. As Diana’s character developed, I grew fond and protective of her, and I didn’t want her hanging out with someone so revolting.
Sien as he lives and breathes today is a towering Aretian human – just over 7 feet tall – with blue lips and patterned skin. He is courageous, patient, and determined, but also hawkish, calculating, and vindictive. While I first envisioned his physical form as gnarled and ghoulish, with inner workings to match, now he is more like this:
And at times, he still goes by the name Rotpac.
[NOTE: Readers sometimes get hung up on the pronunciation of Sien’s name (See-en). Think of it like the word sienna, minus the third syllable.]