Character Notes: Palimia
Palimia is one of those characters who sneak into a book. You know the ones, they come to your house as the guest of a person you invited, and you end up liking them. The person you know just well enough to be able to say you know they exist. And then one day your car breaks down at a local store, and you need a jump. So you look around and there they are. Waving from their car. So you ask for a jump, or a lift, or to use their cell phone. And just like that they become part of your go-to team.
That was Palimia. A perfectly nice female character who popped into Sordaneon because I wanted to give Dorilian something to do while Marc Frederick was visiting his old friend Eldonus Kastryon and having a significant conversation. Dorilian is too great a character to leave just standing around doing nothing, so I decided to give Eldonus a wife… and Dorilian a female to talk with. It was an opportunity to show him interacting with a woman he didn’t already know.
I created Palimia to be a bright spot: a lively, vivacious, and pretty older woman — think mid 40s with good genes and an upbeat “I will survive” personality. She’s also not afraid of Dorilian, nor is she overly deferential to him, which is something he finds refreshing. I use their scene to show he’s not immune to women or their appeal, and that he does, on occasion, flirt if he finds someone interesting. Palimia is just having fun with him, and he appreciates their exchange.
Marc Frederick of course notices them talking and this forms part of his conversation with Eldonus. As a scene, it all worked very well. Later, I had old Eldonus conveniently die so Marc Frederick could take Palimia as a mistress. They clearly got along well, and Marc Frederick wasn’t sleeping with his queen. It’s all in the book. These things were more mentions than anything else and Palimia never said a word in Sordaneon outside those she spoke to Dorilian. I figured she was a pleasant throwaway.
Fast forward to The Kheld King, a book in which I wanted to show Stefan — the king of the title — being a dick. He was already a dick, having been one to Dorilian since forever and he’s flashed his ugly side to Emyli somewhat, but both of those characters had done things that at least might have prompted him to be that way. This time I wanted to show Stefan being a dick to someone who had never done him wrong.
That’s when Palimia popped back up and waved to say, “Hey, remember me?”
There was a time when I figured Sordaneon would never be published. During that period, I wrote some side fiction. In one of those pieces, I followed the “What If?” of how Dorilian and Palimia might end up in bed together. That story focused heavily on the connection both characters had to Marc Frederick and it was also erotic… but I liked a lot about it. [The story was called “Rill Glow” and it was up on Literotica.com for a while.]
Among the things I liked was that it showed Dorilian being with a woman. After his teen years in Sordaneon, he’s a grown man for the rest of the series, so it makes sense he would have a sex life. But the best part of all?
In that story, Palimia got treated badly by Stefan. Royally. It was what drove her to seek out Dorilian.
That story — with all the misplaced and erotica elements edited out — became Chapter 9 of The Kheld King. Lots of great character development happens in that chapter and it shows that my young, impulsive protagonist can also be a focused and effective antagonist. Those traits play out through the rest of the series.
Once she was re-introduced, I decided to keep Palimia on. She and Dorilian are good together, not in a passionate way but in a way that heals him. Her relationship with him inspires diverse and interesting reactions from other characters, particularly from Stefan, whose attempt to dick Palimia doesn’t turn out as planned. There are fun angles, too. There’s a power differential in that Dorilian is in a position of far greater power and wealth — and the story addresses that. There’s also an age difference — Palimia is older than Dorilian. Other characters talk about that.
As a POV character, Palimia is less directly involved than Dorilian or Emyli or others in the big picture of surrounding events. Her observations are more intimate. A woman of good breeding and a positive attitude, she is doing her best with what life sends her way. No one is more surprised than Palimia that her downward spiral toward poverty instead spun her into a life of wealth and influence. Her character arc, which has downs as well as ups, was one of the surprises of writing this book.
Ultimately Palimia proves more integral to the main plot than readers might at first suspect. More about that later, when the time is right. As a character, though, I think she’s interesting and fun. I like her and I hope readers do too.