Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Beautiful People: I Don't Have Friends (Just One)

Beautiful People is a linkup hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In, where writers answer questions about their books/characters. And today, we're talking about a topic that really, really doesn't belong in my novels: Friendship.

I've decided, therefore, that I shall rebel and instead portray the working relationship between Kim, the justiciar, and Mallister, the Prime Minister, both characters in Matryoshka.

1. How long have they known each other, and how close are they?


Kim has been Mallister's justiciar for over a decade, and in all that time she has served him loyally through a civil war that was more or less a schism for the entire country. They met much earlier, in an incident often referred to but never quite explained in Matryoshka: the Atelle Incident, on Taglia.*

Because of Kim's cultural and very much Confucian upbringing, she tends to be rather formal around Mallister. And for all her loyalty, she's aware politics aren't quite governed by justice, and so she keeps her distance. Mallister is fond of Kim and appreciates her help, but not enough by half.

2. What’s their earliest memory of being best friends acquaintances?


When Kim left her home country and reached the Republic. She played some part in the aforementioned Atelle Incident, and got out of trouble mainly because Mallister saw potential in her and thought she might be useful. Meanwhile, Kim was blunt even as a younger girl:
But she accepted Mallister's offer of a job as a judge, and once he was elected as Prime Minister, she respected him for trying to bring order to a lawless country. And eventually they began to trust each other.

3. Do they fight? How long do they typically fight for?


Oh, they fight alllll the time. Normally it begins with Mallister suggesting something dodgy, Kim advising against it, and Mallister either prodding Kim to agree it's necessary or conceding and switching to even dodgier methods.

Except because of aforementioned Confucian values, Kim is very formal and emotionless when speaking out against Mallister. This doesn't mean she's any less blunt.

4. Are their personalities similar or do they complement each other?


Kim has the best deadpan snark possible, but her sense of morality is rigid. She may bend to Mallister's will in light of the threat Thomas brings, but her rulings in court are no less brutal than Mallister's political maneuverings. Terry Pratchett said it best:
If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you're going to die. So they'll talk. They'll gloat.

They'll watch you squirm. They'll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar.

So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.
Mallister is wily as a fox and calculates his every step when in the political arena against our protagonists. Although his continual struggle for power wearies even himself, he will never stop thinking of increasingly sneaky ways to win. And so they argue quite some.

But between them (and the Chancellor, who really is Kim's friend and would serve better for this theme if I were less of a rebel), they've restored the country to relative security and prosperity after civil war. So yes, I suppose they complement each other.

5. Who is the leader of their friendship (if anyone)?


Mallister, absolutely. As her direct superior, Mallister often commandeers Kim's courts for his political purposes. And Kim, having seen a civil war and the scars afterwards, lets it go more often than not. As Mercutio said:
If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.
Justice is not so different.

6. Do they have any secrets from each other?

This song, though. This song is so perfect for Matryoshka.
Oh, all the secrets. Mallister ... well, let's just say he doesn't see the law to be an issue so long as he can worm his way out of it. Kim isn't oblivious to it, but again, she cuts him some leeway.

Kim's clever enough to know about Mallister's ruthlessness, so if she can, she hides other people's vulnerabilities from him. She also doesn't bring up her doubts of him, especially as they fight together against Thomas.

7. How well do they know each other’s quirks and habits?


Kim's picked up several tricks from reading people in the courts. She pays attention to Mallister's social cues to try to work out what he's not saying, what he's hiding from her. But she also worries about him when he starts to push himself too far to rid themselves of Thomas.

On the other hand, Mallister knows Kim's motivations dangerously well. It's how he's avoided Kim turning against him, for all his less-than-legal tricks. But he doesn't quite know, or even care, about her state of mind or preferences or anything, really, so long as he's secured her loyalty..

8. What kind of things do they like to do together?


... persecute the street fighters who are the remnants of the losing side in the civil war, I guess? Kim makes some killer tea (of the Korean sort, if you're curious), so they also drink tea while discussing state affairs.

Look, I told you they weren't really friends.

9. Describe each character’s fashion style (use pictures if you’d like!) How are their styles different/similar?


I'M SO HAPPY YOU ASKED THIS.

Kim wears a hanbok, which is not really called that in the novel but nonetheless. It's a Korean style-gown that's cinched at the waist with very wide skirts. I'm really not doing the actual garment justice, so here's a picture. Kim prefers to wear dark colours rather than the richer fabrics in the picture, but it has a lovely aura of dignity I associate with Kim.
 I hope I got this right, since I just used Google. x
Kim's spent most her life in the Republic, but just as the world never forgets she's a foreigner, she never forgets her home country either.

Like Kim, Mallister also prefers darker colours, but doesn't shy away from overt expressions of wealth. And he's old enough to carry more ostentatious clothes without appearing much of a peacock. Imagine this, but with white hair:

10. How would their lives be different without each other?


Kim would still be wandering the west with her brand of vigilante justice. And Mallister? Our master politician might still manage, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Twitter-sized takeout:
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*The person who understands this absolutely terrible pun receives brownie points for being an excellent troper.

35 comments:

  1. Oooh, they sound amazing! I especially like how Kim "reads" Mallister--it just seems like such a twisted, but interesting "friendship". I'm assuming Kim is a good bit younger than Mallister, which is also cool; I think friendships (or, in this case, partnerships) between a younger person and an older person can be really fun, because there's such a different dynamic. Can't wait to hear more about them!
    P.S.: There can never be too many Terry Pratchett quotes. That man is a GENIUS.
    P.P.S.: The hanbok is lovely!

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    1. Thank you, Alex! Yeah, they're not friends, they don't pretend to be friends, but they will look out for each others. And hmm, I hadn't considered that, but Kim is indeed younger than Mallister by quite a bit, which also contributes to her respect of him.

      P.S.: Gosh, I can't believe I still haven't read anything by him. Any recs?
      P.P.S.: It is, isn't it? I do so love incorporating other cultures' fashion and cuisine and ideas into counterpart fictional cultures.

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  2. *happy flails* I am pretty sure that Kim is the best. Basically, yeah. She's the best, probably. I love that they do have a strong relationship, regardless of whether it is a good, or comforting, or congenial relationship (which I sense it mostly isn't), because I feel like your answers show that even though they aren't besties (although persecuting other people helps people bond, I'm sure) they do make each other better. I mean, maybe that's not how it actually ends up, but it does sound like they prove a balance—between morality and action, justice and personal desire, politics and problems... Like, as you said, if they weren't together they would still get stuff done, but it is BECAUSE they are together that they are getting this specific stuff done.

    So even if they aren't friends, it sounds like this is a pretty darn important relationship. And they have pretty interesting outfits so I guess that makes up for their wrongdoings. :)

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    1. Also I like your Sherlock reference. :D

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    2. Gah, I'm so happy you like Kim—I like her a lot too, and I'm so anxious to get her right. It could be called congenial, I guess, but definitely not comforting. Or besties. I didn't actually create their characters to balance each other out, but they do cover different areas of the spectrum in many ways!

      Fashionable villains can always get away with more things. It is known.

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  3. DUDE. Their "friendship" sounds deliciously complex and twisted. I especially love the quotes from your novel. (The first one especially :P)

    That hanbok is gorgeous. I'm no expert, but it looks accurate to me.

    Beautiful People || Friendship Edition

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    1. Thank you, Tansie! Those aren't my quotes, actually -- that first one is by Terry Pratchett, whose genius I can only think of matching. And you're right, hanboks are works of art. It's a great part of Korean culture :)

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  4. Kim sounds like a really fascinating character, and the working relationship between the two seems like something that perfectly fits Kim's character (the parts I've seen, anyway) and her general formality.

    And that hanbok is really beautiful, by the way. I didn't even know that's what it's called until now.

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    1. Yay, I'm so happy you enjoy Kim's character and relationships! I'm still trying to make the words fit my concept personality of her, so we shall see. And I don't think I'll ever regret deciding Kim should wear a hanbok :D

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  5. CAN I JUST SAY (again) EEEEK JUSTICE LADY IN A HANBOK. I love Kim so much you don't even know. Epic Korean representation + flipping amazing character complexities + bluntness that doubles as snark + (literally?) killer tea is awesome all around. (Haha, it's kind of interesting to me that you're writing a Korean semi-antagonist and I'm writing a Chinese semi-antagonist—Rowen, that is. ;D)

    I also love the professional but inherently distrustful semi-friendship character dynamic you've set up between Kim and Mallister; I mean, your dynamics are always *fascinating* and full of gray areas, but I feel like this one is especially so. Also THE GIF USAGE I'M BASICALLY WEEPING. (And it is ALWAYS a good time to pull out a Mercutio quote, tbh. So NICE.)

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    1. I THINK THAT SHOULD JUST BE THE TAGLINE FOR KIM'S CHARACTER. Really, her personality is 50% hanbok and 25% Confucian values and 25% the only source of common sense in the book. I'm afraid the tea isn't literally killer, but it is still awesome, hopefully. And ooh, yes, the parallels are interesting. But Rowen inspires me to as many caps as Kim does for you, so it is a lovely parallel :)

      Oh right, Mallister appeared in this post. XD (Really, we can ignore him. Kim's so much better.) Their dynamic was lovely to write, because really it's more important than the Thomas vs Mallister enmity in the long run. AND MANY THANKS. I'm trying my hand at more gif-filled posts, so it's great to know I'm doing it right. And I should really quote Shakespeare more. I didn't take English Literature for that one exam. :P

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  6. I looooove this. Not a friendship. *snorts* XD I really love the sound of Kim though. LIKE REALLY. Actually I've probably mentioned how freakishly fantastic this book sounds before, but, THERE. I just said it again. *nods* ALSO THOSE OUTFITS.

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    1. Aaaah, I'm so happy you're interested in this! Coming from you, it's high praise indeed. And fashionable villains are clearly the best villains. :D

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  7. They sound fascinating, and fun to write :) This whole story sounds amazing!! :)

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    1. I am having loads of fun writing Kim! Thanks for dropping by, Opal :)

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  8. Every time you say more about her, I like Kim more. She is such an interesting character (from what I know) her relationship with Mallister is really interesting. You explored this really well. And Indian independence day is the same as Korean, so when we have a ceremony, all the korean kids (of which there are many) wear national dress which is quite similar to this. Kim is so well developed!

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    1. Every time I blog about Kim, I come up with new ideas on how to write her, so I'm so happy it works for you too :D I'm hopefully writing her as well as I'm imagining her so far, ahaha. And ooh, I didn't know the two dates coincided -- that must be a wonderful cultural mashup experience.

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  9. Alyssa! I haven't commented for so long (sorry) so I'm kind of behind things of Matroshyka. Regardless, Kim and Mallister sound awesome. I'm so glad that you like to write about politics, because I do too (even though I don't know very much) I want to read this :) And, on an unrelated note, because I'm a curious person, how much does Hong Kong monitor technology/internet? because I know a lot of websites are banned in China, but you use blogger and twitter sooo...

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    1. Hey Shanti! That's totally okay, although I've definitely missed your lovely comments :) Politics just sneak into my novels without me willing it, ahaha. I hope to share some quotes from MTY soon on the blog!

      Curiosity is lovely, unless you're Schrodinger's cat. We're pretty free here, no firewalls or anything. Although I believe some parts of China allow it -- they have economic zones in Shanghai or whatnot?

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  10. I have to say, Alyssa, your characters definitely sound interesting from your answers here! I even love how sharp your writing is. Plus, we don't have many great Korean representations in a lot of works these days, so I'd love to read your work as soon as it's available to the public (yes, I am quite confident this will happen). Great job laying out Kim and Mallister's dynamics and relatinship! They already sound fun to read.

    Faye at The Social Potato

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    1. Thank you so much, Faye! I'm always trying to write more diversely, especially when it comes to culture, because it's a subject of endless fascination for me personally. And awk, thank you for the vote of confidence. It means so much coming from an awesome blogger like you!

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  11. I love this! Mallister and Kim are fascinating; I think I'm getting more attached to them than to the actual protagonist. Was this your intention? :') Don't worry about the hanbok, the image is spot on. I own one that I grew out kf (both size and taste) and, like Kim and Mallister, I prefer darker colours (mine's rainbow). Anyway, thanks for your effort to include more Korean characters in literature! I've probably said that a billion times, but I've never come across a Korean other than Park from Eleanor & Park. :)

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    1. Thank you, Jo! Well, that wasn't my intention, but Thomas turned out to be a brat and I myself prefer Kim now, so. XD Whew, thanks for the reassurance! A lot of hanbok pictures I found online were extremely colourful, but I felt that it just didn't fit Kim's style. It's really my pleasure to include and appreciate this wonderful culture -- seriously underrated, really.

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  12. SO HAVE I MENTIONED LATELY THAT YOUR SNEAKY REFERENCES BASICALLY MAKE MY ENTIRE LIFE?? BECAUSE THEY 100% DO AND I AM UNREASONABLY EXCITED ABOUT THIS

    Ahem.

    Punctuation-free flailing aside: I have said this before and I'll say it again, Kim is one of my favourite characters ever. Especially when one considers that I have not even read this book yet. :P The hanbok is gorgeous, though I'm afraid I can't attest to the accuracy (from what the other lovely commenters are saying, it sounds like it's right?); it is so wonderful to work Korean culture into works of literature, and I'm beyond happy that you've done so here. <3

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    1. BUT YOU NOTICING MY SNEAKY REFERENCES IS WHY I PUT THEM IN, SO YOUR UNREASONABLE EXCITEMENT ALSO MAKE MY DAY. YAYYYY.

      I'm so happy you like Kim! I'm slightly worried whether I'll be able to pull her off as I conceived her, but she's so fun to write. It's really great to work with cultures which are slightly similar to mine and yet so very different :D

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  13. Wow I love how different the characters are! They're personalities are amazing, and really, I love reading about characters who are very different :) Kim and Mallister sound very cool! <3 Great post and thanks for introducing them to me, Alyssa! Amazing post ^-^

    Jillian @ Jillian's Books

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    1. Putting different characters on the same side is such unreasonable fun for me :D Thank you very much for your kind words, they give me the encouragement to keep writing!

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  14. I love this - it sounds awesome! And love the quotes and the Civil Wars gif too :)
    This is a great concept and the characters are fabulous. And that hanbok is incredibly beautiful and elegant.

    Cheers,

    Rebekah @ Wordsmithing and Worldbuilding
    http://rlhendrian.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you, Rebekah! I can only hope what I write lives up to the concept. And fangirling over other cultures' fashion is basically what I call research, so. :P Hope to see you around again!

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  15. I love your choice of the hanbok dressing style, and The embroidered uniform. It gives the characters a historical flavoring for me. It was a wonderful idea to use a working relationship for this month's questions, too. I enjoyed reading your post. :)

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    1. Thanks! I really enjoy exploring and appreciating other cultures, so it was super amazing to have the opportunity to write a hanbok-wearing characters. Loved your BP post too!

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  16. These two have a deliciously complex relationship, I enjoy it.
    Loved all the Sherlock quotes.

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    1. Thank you, Skye! And Sherlock references are the best.

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  17. I just realized that I follow you on Twitter. That's why your gravatar image looks so familiar! *lol*

    I'm not sure how I missed your posts before during a round of Beautiful People, but HOLY BUCKETS this sounds like an awesome story. And both Kim and Mallister are intriguing characters, and that goes for their working relationship too. I already want to be a fly on the wall for their "discussions over tea."

    And the hanbok is gorgeous! Even if Kim wears more muted colors, I'd be fascinated with her wardrobe if/when I read about it directly in the story.

    Here's my BP post, if you're interested: http://saraletourneauwriter.com/2015/08/17/beautiful-people-vol-7/

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    1. Ha, indeed? Great to know you on the blog too :)

      Oh my goodness, thank you!! It's great to know Matryoshka sounds enticing. Their discussions over tea were such fun to write!

      Hanboks = THE GORGEOUSEST. I basically spent my entire trip to Korea looking for hanboks to ensure absolute detail and accuracy in MTY.

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