The Really Big Idea: Vanna Smythe
My dutiful and obedient twitter bot (at least, until it takes over the world) has connected me with literally thousands of people. It is a good robot. But one day, not too long ago, I really thought it was screwing with me. One of the new followers it had found me apparently had written not one, but two books whose titles included the word “Veil.” Well, my heart just stopped. Had I been beaten into print by this Vanna person? Had she created a world not only with Goblins, Explosions and Marines, but also Love and Duty? Happily not. There appear to be very few Marines, Explosions or Goblins in this Veil. Maybe I should add some love to mine…
Can the Heart and Mind Function Separately?
The main theme, problem, conundrum that plagues the characters in the Anniversary of the Veil Series is the choice between duty and love. On a more whimsical level, this translates to the choice between following you heart versus following your reason, your mind. And the further question, which then arises is: Can there be balance if one is forced to make this choice so cleanly?
This question plagues me, the writer, as well, but it took me quite a while to come to the realization that this question is at the core of my series. I am more of a pantster when it comes to writing, and trust that any deeper meanings, significance and questions I struggle with will be there to find once I tell the story I want to tell, with the characters I want to create.
So, Duty vs. Love in the Anniversary of the Veil series …
In our lives, love comes in many variations: mother/father to child, man to woman, teacher to student, self-love, … so I have not placed any limitations on it in my series. But the thread that runs through it all is that in each instance the man or woman involved must choose between it and following their duty and cold reason. None of them can have both.
Protector Kae must decide whether to stay a Protector or follow Princess Issiyanna, the girl he loves, on her quest, which would make the first impossible. First Captain of the Protectors Entan must decide between sacrificing Kae, whom he regards as a son, to the scheming of Head Priest Rhaldan, or force Kae to flee and thereby going against his oaths and his duty. Keeper Alet must choose between following her orders and sacrificing her sister’s daughter, Princess Issiyanna, for the greater good, or forsaking her duty and saving her niece. And Princess Issiyanna must choose between leaving her whole world and everyone she knows and loves behind to be with her one true love, her other half.
Yet a clean-cut choice like this is difficult, especially in a world such as the one these characters inhabit, namely one that is artificially separated into two by a Veil, which none may cross at will. The worlds on either side of this Veil are completely different, and the bigger choice in the series is between allowing the Veil to continue to separate the worlds, or letting it fall and allowing the world to become one once again.
As of the end of the second book in the Anniversary of the Veil series, Decision Maker, most of these choices have been made, for better or worse. I will not go into the details here, as I don’t want to give it all away, but I will say this: I do not believe that clean-cut choices between love and duty are ones we can make without unplanned consequences.
In our (Western) culture I have often observed a sort of inability to weave our heart’s desire into the choices we make. Society dictates a certain path for us, which starts with finishing school, getting a job, getting married and having kids, and then working on keeping it all. And if those things are not precisely what you want, well, there will be time later to indulge in your dreams. Right? I don’t know, maybe.
Within reason, I do not believe we should ever disregard what our heart tells us is the right path, and I also do not believe that we can truly do so. No matter how much we pretend to the contrary. One way or another, this is also what plays out in the lives of all of my characters in the Anniversary of the Veil series, after they have each made their choice.