I have precise recollections of how I originally came up with some characters. Lorenza Pyrrin, née Jokardho, isn’t one of them. I know that I didn’t hesitate when it came to the image claim – Kandyse McClure, because I had loved this actress since seeing her in Higher Ground in 2000. I had thought that she would make a great Jedi even as seeing her as Dualla in Battlestar Galactica. She was one of my early characters, as I created her back in 2009. I didn’t reflect on diversity as much back then, but she came up to me looking this way from the start.
For a few years in the SWRPG setting, the imperial legislations forbade any Force user from entering their territory. Shall one be found out as such, they were to be arrested and executed. This is also what prompted some of Lorenza’s back story. She was an Artificial Intelligence expert born and raised on imperial territory and was a military scientist. I am no scientist and always was more of a literary oriented person, but just like combat makes me go crazy as a writer, I like to have some scientist characters so I have research to do and envelopes to push. I didn’t get to write much about Lorenza’s scientific side since I created her though, which also led me to create other scientist characters later on.
Lorenza had recently lost her husband, who served in the Navy when the new law was put in place. Having suspected that her young daughter, Nara, might be Force sensitive, she decided to resign from the military and escape imperial space to make sure that her daughter would be safe. So they traveled to the Jedi Temple for shelter, and she had the surprise to realize that she was Force sensitive as well and that her strong bond with her little girl was a sign of her empathic talents. Yet, being accepted as a Jedi padawan didn’t make Lorenza feel so good and she struggled with impostor syndrome for a long while.
She eventually began training with the father of one of her daughter’s friends. The two single parents eventually forged a friendship besides their mentor and student relationship. This even developed into a romantic one, despite their initial concerns. They married a few years later, and Lorenza had the good surprise to be well accepted by her in-laws, despite how she was older than their son, which was a stark contrast to the issues she had had with her first husband’s family, who never wanted Lorenza – or even their granddaughter Nara – to be part of their family.
To counter balance Lorenza’s slow process of finding her place among the Jedi, I had her be comfortable as a mother and being good with children generally speaking, which also helped her build ties with her stepson. That made her able to hold on and keep the family together when dramatic events happened both to her stepson and her husband, no matter how difficult it was.
As mentioned above, I don’t use much of her scientific background, but there still are traces of it showing up at random times, just like her military past sometimes makes appearances too. While she learned to wield a lightsaber, I hinted a few times how shooting a blaster was possibly more natural to her due to her life in imperial service, and I plan to further this in the years to come.
Lorenza is one of the few characters I write who lost a limb (so far). I knew that if I had her go through this, I wanted to take the time to have her adjust with the cybernetic replacement. Not only did it make sense but it was something I didn’t get around to write before. I had her struggle with some daily tasks and then with the construction of her lightsaber – for which, just as for some random tasks at first, she needed assistance for. It also prompted me to have her go through basic lightsaber training again because of the new hand, no matter how well it worked, had to be “befriended”. Even now that she is acclimated to the cybernetic limb, it still participates to the slow process of her picking up drawing again, after years of not doing it.
While I am aware that this was acquired disability and that with the technology in the Star Wars universe, things are “fixable”, I still wanted to use this writing possibility as the opportunity it was for character development. Sometimes, focus on her recovery was given, but I also found it important to have smaller mentions in other parts of the stories she partook in. Throwing Lorenza into this hardship when she seemed to have gained more confidence as a Jedi also helped confirming that she had made a lot of progress in her training and life, as it would have been counter intuitive to just toss her back to square one.
- Do your characters tend to experience parenthood?
- How do you find balance between strengths and weaknesses for your characters?
- How do you incorporate a character’s experience of disability in their development?