When both the New Republic and the Sovereign Galactic Empire came back to life in early 2009, lots of brainstorming happened, including about who was interested in a leadership position. I jumped right into it. I had been on SWRPG for a little over six months and enjoyed my time there a lot. So I didn’t hesitate. Ironically I was tempted to go for Imperial leadership right away, instead of Republic. I loved the idea of writing a villain. When we distributed roles in the first imperial leadership team, I went for military leadership, having no idea of how military writing would go. This is how Tatiana Renkl was born. From the start, I pictured her as actress Karina Lombard, who had impressed me a lot in a French miniseries a few years before.
I didn’t have a problem with her being a leader, as it made sense for not only was she forty year old, but her solid background made it easy for me. She was born on Bakura, and first studied politics at university before joining the military academy because of the previous galactic war, in which she served in the Navy. An extremely dangerous and calculating woman, she earned herself the nickname – eventually becoming her call sign – ‘Kinslayer’ early in her career. She is a joy to write, despite how much of a challenge she can be when she gets to scheme and torture people.
I realized early on that while I loved writing her as a leader, anything military stressed me a lot. So when the possibility of having her take the throne as Empress, political leader instead of military, I jumped on the occasion. I briefly stopped writing her as a leader of the Sovereign Galactic Empire for a few months, but I realized that Tatiana only works for me if she is a leader. The Empire is her whole life and writing her any other way killed my muse. Thankfully, I could return her to the throne and since then her muse has gone strong again.
An important part of who she is, is a feminist. When a while ago, I read how another character mention how Tatiana had helped seeing more imperial women in the military, it made me very happy, not because I have any sway over who creates military women or whether they maintain them active, but I was glad to see it. There has been both Tatiana and another female imperial leader as part of the team since 2009, and I think that it might have also encouraged so many active female imperials, regardless of the branch.
Tatiana is a villain in the way that imperials tend to be in the Star Wars universe and I like how devilish she can be. It makes her a very compelling character to develop. She nevertheless is someone who believes in equality between genders, doesn’t discriminate because of age, origins or orientation. As an imperial, she wants Force users to stay out of her business, though she has supported the rebuilding of an alliance with the Sith. She has no problem with slavery when it comes to alien species, in a fashion true to her allegiance. Yet, she supports education, medical research, and knows that cooperation between all branches to promote the Empire as the one and true order in the galaxy, is crucial.
She is also a leader who doesn’t hesitate to still be involved as much as she can. She still sometimes handles certain interrogations herself, or even being the one to execute a major traitor, such as the time she personally and publicly beheaded a man who attempted a coup against the imperial leadership. Having ties to many trusted people in all branches is also one of her strengths. I couldn’t write her as someone who just works behind a desk.
When I created Tatiana, she only had one daughter, and by now she has eight children. I never expected her to have so many (four sons and four daughters, including a set of twins and a set of quadruplets). Family is extremely important to her and she is very protective of them. As for her personal life, it was quite a struggle for a few years, but she eventually met a smuggler who was able to break through her carapace. Before him, she had many affairs and a few longer lasting relationships, but she wasn’t the kind to want someone with her every day. I was far from sure that Tatiana would find a long term partner, but I am glad she did, because it allowed for greater development for her and added to how I write her, giving me new insight into her personality.
- Do your leader characters tend to lean towards a specific kind, like political, military, spiritual?
- Does feminism influence your writing?
- What drives your villains to be what they are?