Getting to know Vatren Martoka

Back in January, my friend and fellow author, Sam Dogra, tagged me in a character development challenge.  I started working on my answers before her post went live, but it’s taken me till now to finally finish them.  I’ve spent ten years getting to know this character, yet there were things I didn’t know about him till I filled out this questionnaire.  It was quite a lot of fun, and I’m thinking about turning this into a series of posts about each of my main characters.

I’ve done this as an interview.  I hope you enjoy learning about Vatren as much as I did! 🙂

Vatren Artwork by Hazel Butler

Artwork by Hazel Butler

What position do you sleep in? ( i.e; stomach, side, back, etc.) Why?

I sleep on my back, propped up a bit so that I appear awake from a distance.  I used to sleep flat on my back, but these are dangerous times.

Do you have any noteworthy features? Freckles? Dimples? A scar somewhere unusual?

I’m afraid not.  I’m perfectly ordinary, except for the prince bit.

Do you have an accent? What does it sound like?

An accent?  Of course not.  I speak normally.  Well, as normally as any other noble Lokani citizen.  Accents belong to the poor and uneducated.  But not to me.

Do you have any verbal tics? Do you have trouble pronouncing certain words or getting your thoughts across clearly?

Verbal what?  Well, I suppose I do stammer a bit when I’m agitated.

What are your chief tension areas?

My face – definitely my face.  I always pinch the bridge of my nose when I feel a headache coming on.  And I hold tension in my neck and shoulders, too.  As a matter of fact, they’re beginning to tighten up a bit now…

If you were to pick one song — and only one song — to describe yourself, what would it be and why?

One song?  But how can a song define a person?  Music doesn’t describe people – character does.  I only hope mine says good things about me.

How do you perceive yourself? Positive? Negative? Neutral?

I like to think of myself as a good person.  I try to make others happy, but I don’t let them push me around.  I try to be fair and open-minded and as different from my father as I can possibly be.

Are you a quick thinker or do you need time to sort through your thoughts?

I wish I were a quick thinker.  Or at least a quicker thinker.

Do you dream or are your nights filled with an empty blackness? Describe a dream you’ve had or a night you couldn’t sleep and what you did to occupy your time.

I dream quite a bit, actually.  Most people do.  Dreams are conduits for messages, for enlightenment, and I’ve dreamed of many things over the years.  But when I can’t sleep, I usually read.

If you had a choice, would you prefer a subway or a bus for public transportation?

Subway?  Bus?  These words are foreign to me; I know not what they mean.  A well-appointed carriage?  That’s the only way to travel.

What do you think of creation? Do you believe in evolution or do you believe in God? What is your religion like?

Unlike my parents, I believe in Anyamor and the teachings she gave our people in the Tokhnat.  Our religion centers around reverence for the Great Mother, particularly the teachings of Prelate Tolath.

Evo-what?  What strange magic is that?

Describe five unusual characteristics you have.

Unusual characteristics?  Uh…Does hating my parents count as unusual?  No?  And I have to name five?  Oh, very well, then.  Let’s see…I’m quite good at drawing, I dislike court, I love a commoner, my best friend is a highly-skilled soldier, and I once longed to join the priesthood so that I could devote my life to study.  You can imagine what my father thought of that.  Not terribly interesting (or unusual), I know, except for maybe the part about joining the priesthood, but what can I say?  I’m a conventional kind of guy.

Have you ever been so overwhelmed you had to stop and take a break from something?

I’m overwhelmed all the time, usually with anger.  And it’s usually my father’s fault.  Thank goodness he won’t live forever.

Are you a team player or do you prefer to be solo?

Well as Crown Prince, I’m used to leading; it’s what people expect.  But I often seek consensus from my advisers.  If one man suffers in my kingdom, his pain is shared by all, for we are all connected.

Can you multi-task or must you focus on one subject at a time?

Multi-what?  Multi-task?  I don’t know that term.  *reads note*  Oh.  Oh, yes, I see.  Well of course I multi-task!  I’m going to be king one day – I have to.  I haven’t the luxury of focusing on one task at a time when fifty people want a hundred things and they want them yesterday.

What are your best school subjects? What are your worst? List five of each.

My best subjects were easily history, diplomacy, and language studies.  My worst subjects will go with me to my grave, and hopefully that is a long way off.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How do you handle big crowds of people?

My, but you ask unusual questions!  I find intimate gatherings with a few close friends to be vastly superior to the lavish festivities my parents favor.  Too many people leave me feeling suffocated.

Are you a leader, do you prefer to follow, or would you rather just stay on the sidelines altogether?

What good could I possibly do on the sidelines?  If you want change in the world, you must make it.  Following others will only get you so far in this world.  Eventually, you must strike out on your own.

If you were suddenly challenged, would you rather run away or stay and fight?

I would stay and fight.  When my father imprisoned me for marrying Namora, I fought for our freedom.  When the Zealots threatened the kingdom, I fought them every way I knew how.  As the old saying goes, sometimes you have to kick a little.

If you were allowed to murder one person without any consequences, who would that person be and why?

Anyone?  That will take some thought.  I don’t generally condone murder, you see, and there are always consequences, even if they don’t involve punishment.  How can you know what that person might have contributed to the world? … No, I don’t think you could realistically murder someone without any consequences.

You have been granted three wishes; what would you wish for and why?

Three wishes, eh?  Well first, I’d wish for peace in my family.  My parents hate my wife, her brother hates my whole family – it’s all quite tiresome.  Second, I’d wish for peace in my kingdom.  Not the whole world peace thing, just an end to the sectarian violence.  And third…Well, one and two are plenty.

Do you trust people right off the bat or does it take you some time to warm up to someone?

I consider myself a trusting person.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, unless they give me cause not to.

Do you prefer romance or affection? What is the quickest way to your heart?

What is romance without affection?  Romance isn’t only grand gestures; it’s also the little things, like holding hands or walks in the park.

As for me, kindness is a good way to get my attention.

Do you have any enemies? If so, who and why?

I’ve got enemies by the score, and it’s all my father’s fault.  What?  It is.  If he’d just listened to people like I told him he should, I wouldn’t be in this mess.  The people who hate me mainly hate me because I’m my father’s son.  Take my brother-in-law, for instance.  He’d kill me without so much as a hint of guilt.  I’ve never done a thing to him, but all he sees when he looks at me is a younger version of my father.

Do you have any weird bedroom habits? Any unusual kinks?

Absolutely not.  And even if I did, that’s not a proper topic for discussion with anyone other than my wife.

How do you prepare for bed? Do you sleep at all or can you stay awake for days on end without trouble?

There’s nothing very special about the way I get ready for bed.  I change clothes, I climb into bed, I douse the lamps.  Occasionally if I’m having trouble sleeping, I might sit up and read for a while, but thankfully, that doesn’t happen very often.  Running a kingdom is exhausting.  I need all the sleep I can get.

If you had one thing to say to your parents before they died, what would it be?

If I could have said anything to my parents before they died, I would have told them I loved them.  Also, “I told you so.”  Because they should have listened to me but they never did.

Are you afraid of death? Do you have any regrets?

I’m not afraid of death, but I’m not ready for it, either.  There are too many things I want to do first, too many things I want to see accomplished, before I can die without regret.

Do you get restless when things are too quiet or do you favor solitude and silence? Why?

I like a bit of solitude and silence now and then.  Just being alone or with my wife can be very relaxing.  But sometimes, after an extended period of quiet, I grow anxious.  Peace hasn’t lasted in Lokana in generations, and I always expect that when things are going well, something will happen to change that.

Finally; if you were forced to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?

Roast chicken with potatoes and noodles.  Or, if not that, Namora’s beef stew.  I don’t know what she does to it, but it tastes divine.

(c) 2015.  All rights reserved.


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