Of Characters and Things: Kai Gracen

Of Characters and Things: Kai Gracen
I actually began writing Kai’s story more than ten years ago. It might have been fifteen. I’m not even sure where the concept came from but it pretty much followed most of my random thoughts, probably when I was either in the bathroom or drinking coffee because that just seems to be where ideas occur to most authors. It’s kind of like a piece of yarn caught in the bramble and it leads you to a secret place you’ve never been but seems so very familiar.
The idea the elfin Courts as they exist in Irish mythology became a base for what was going to happen in the world. I knew I wanted to write the story after the Courts and the humans battled it out because the terror of war and the scramble wasn’t the space I wanted to weave around, since so much of my interests centre around the study of cultures and how people react / interact when suddenly introduced or confronted by a sudden strangeness in their comfortable world.
Kai’s back story actually evolved from a lot of discussion around the dysmorphia and otherness adopted people feel when they are taken in by families with a different cultural background than their own ethnicity and culture. There are also points to be made about being a biracial child and not quite fitting into their families’ cultures for one reason or another. I am multiracial but I had a different cultural influence on my childhood than my sisters did, primarily because I had elders who were AAPI and raised me but had already passed when my sisters came along. This led them to have a more Portuguese-centric cultural influence and that’s how they identify.
For simplification purposes.
So that’s the basis of Kai. He was taken in by a human and raised in a society that bore great animosity to his race. It led to a complicated life but considering he was raised as a Stalker, their nomadic existence made it much easier for him to survive and also thrive as an individual. It gave him purpose and it’s something that Kai is very good at. Sometimes too good.
Dempsey (just as an aside)
I’m not going to give any spoilers about Dempsey in case people in the group haven’t read the books yet. Dempsey was a very simple character to write on the surface but there were a lot of hidden motivations where he’s concerned and he is as an unreliable narrator is Kai is. Dempsey has a lot of secrets; some are his own and some belong to others around him. At first glance, he’s an asshole. But he’s also an asshole at the second, third, and tenth glance. That never goes away. When all is said and done, he is a mercenary who for some stupid reason took in an enemy of his people to raise.
Dempsey never sugarcoated the shit he knew Kai was going to face from other people. There were going to be people who would fetishize Kai and people who would want him dead just because of how he looked. That’s just how the world was and he was going to make sure Kai knew that.
Stalker Dempsey went into raising Kai with his eyes wide open and while he wasn’t ever going to win any Father of the Year awards, he knew in order for Kai to survive, he was going to have to learn there was no such thing as a free lunch. Everything costs, including friendship. And never to truly trust anyone until they saved your neck for no reason.
Their lives were brutal and blood-filled but also of laughter and situations that made for great storytelling. Kai knew — deep down in his soul — that Dempsey had his back. So when Dempsey had to retire, there was no question that it was time for Kai to carry the load. And that’s really where I wanted to start the story. At a point where Kai was independent but still made sure that the man he thought of as his father was going to be okay.
And San Diego seemed like a great place to put them.
Kai Gracen
For all intents and purposes, the Stalker community really harkens back to a time of trading and trapping, with a serious dose of bootlegging and living on the edge of danger. Kai really thrives in that world. He loves the hunting (probably something he gets from his elfin father) and the adrenaline rush he gets bringing down something that maybe is a little bit too dangerous for him to tackle. Stalking is a challenge and if there is one thing Kai lives for it’s a good challenge. And sometimes those challenges come back to bite him in the ass.
Does he hate not being human? Yes. Because in his mind, he looks more like Dempsey than the depictions of the Courts’ people. Does he run into prejudice? Yeah he does. And it always surprises him because he doesn’t think of himself as anything but human. It’s a lesson he keeps learning time and time again but pushes aside. Because he wants to belong and under it all, he wants to be a part of the world around him, not just someone who lives on its edges in the shadows.
Kai has a moral code he follows and it’s pretty clear-cut. I would say that Dempsey was a bit more shady and sometimes cut corners, not something Kai agrees with. Kai has a strong work ethic and he won’t take on a project or contract he doesn’t think he can fulfill. He is independent and stubborn which is why it pissed him off so much when the Post handed him over to Ryder. He remembers where he came from and there is no way in hell that he is willing to go back to being somebody’s property. Even someone who he wants to grab, push up against a brick wall, and kiss senseless. Kai is very good at denying himself because there were a lot of times when he and Dempsey had to scrape to pull together everything from food to fuel. He knows how to make sacrifices and won’t over extend himself.
Especially emotionally.
At the beginning of the series we have actually joined Kai at a point in his life where things are beginning to change. He has an attraction to his human neighbor which he can’t act on because he knows that he will outlive her but there’s also a slow realization that the people he calls family — his very human family — are also getting older.
And he is not.
It’s not to say that he hasn’t thought about it — the deaths of people he loves — because he is a Stalker and their life expectancy usually isn’t very long to begin with. But it’s one thing to die because your head is bitten off by a dragon, and it’s quite another thing to slowly slip away from illness or old age. Death is so much of the part of Kai’s life, he’s braced himself to encounter it every day just not so close to him.
But the books aren’t just about the realization that death will come to those he loves. It’s also about Kai learning how to open himself up and living. He’s lived a guarded existence. He knows who his father is and he also knows that one day the Wild Hunt will come for him.
That’s something he and Dempsey probably spoke about over numerous campfires and lukewarm beer in shitty bars. Dempsey also knew his adopted son was going to have to integrate himself at some point into the Courts. That might not have been something they talked about or perhaps they did. That could be something to explore in the future books.
I love writing Kai because he’s straight to the point, honest to the point of bluntness, and will go down fighting for someone he loves. And he has many people he’s quite fond of. Including Ryder.
Ryder was a complication Kai didn’t want and thought he didn’t need but the truth is, Ryder does bring a level of civilization to Kai’s world. It’s not that Kai doesn’t know what to do in a civilized society. He just doesn’t care that much about what clothes need to be worn in what situation or what fork to use. He’s usually focused on what he needs to get done and isn’t the most diplomatic of people. I would go so far as to say he’s probably not the most charming but perhaps engaging and charismatic. He does care about people, maybe sometimes too much, but he does see the big picture and knows that anything he does will ripple out and affect others. And maybe that’s something Ryder needs to learn from him.
I’m really looking forward to book 5 because I know where to go with this and I know what happened with the Court. By the elfin standards, Ryder and Kai are moving rather quickly and it’s odd that Kai is usually the one to tap on the brakes. But that’s just how he is. I have a lot of things I have planned and I’m really looking forward to exploring those. We’ll see a lot more of Cari and we should probably check in on the twins because they are after all Kai’s nieces. And you know he’s already bought them knives. I don’t think the court really understands how he intends to influence them but he has a responsibility — a deep felt obligation — to make sure they turn out as kick ass and as capable as possible.
Because like how Dempsey raised him, he needs to make sure that the next generation can hold their own. And that they always know he’ll have their backs.

Continue reading “Of Characters and Things: Kai Gracen”

Today’s Borking Report… and man it’s cold!

Today’s Borking Report!
I just got the picture for the day. Auntie Paige had a small dog poop emergency this morning and it kind of threw the day off but it’s all better now. We got her a London Fog Latte from Starbucks after the Bork as a pick me up for the morning. Because she deserves it.
It was chilly this morning and of course the Potato has been shorn. It’s sweater time and I need to go dig out his thicker clothing for the upcoming Winter months.
There was much borking today and we were scolded for talking a little bit. There are rules! When he came back, the Borker insisted on having his Auntie undress him. He wouldn’t come to me but eventually got stripped down to nekkid and he could roll about.
And right now, he’s eaten his dinner and is snorfling about to head over to his living room bed. There’s been a lot of shuffling about today. Just wandering about and settling in for naps everywhere he can. And of course, he just went to investigate the back yard a bit because well, I’m sure he’s telling the possums and other wildlife that it’s time for bed.
Also… our “trash neighbour” is a lovely man named Rich who brings the bins up for us. We also call him the trash faerie and every other week or so, I send gifts to him and his family. Mostly ordering in things that they’ve never had or stuff from the Asian bakeries that I know they would like. Sometimes a cheese and meat board. Because it’s a tremendous help and he’s a dear. Gus does like him.
From his Auntie Paige:
I’ve captured Gus’s enemy on the photo today. He was not happy about that noisy truck! Sure he also barked at your trash neighbor but the carpet cleaner was the real issue.
Thank you so much for having me as your walker!
Best, Paige

More surgery! Ahead anyway…

So in the ongoing surgical news… in about a month and a half, they’ll be opening me up again and poking into my bladder to repair the sieve from that end. Until then, it’s stay the course, try to be healed more, don’t break anything, don’t catch anything, and most of all, don’t go stir crazy.

AND they dropped the new Indiana Jones trailer which… ah, Harrison Ford is a old school hard yes for me. Always has been. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfVYgWYaHmE

I’m going to be making curry stew tomorrow. I’ll try to remember to post pictures. Cooking is hard because well, unbalanced still and I’m working off a new round of surgical gas which makes me even more scattered than normal. I’m like a drunk hummingbird.

Today’s Borking Report! And a groomed Potato!

Today’s Borking Report…

Well I was taking a shower when Auntie Paige got here so I missed her but I definitely heard the Potato leaving because there was BORKING to be done!

He apparently had a fantastic time because he’s snoring away in his living room bed and enjoying the 72ºF / 22ºC weather. I’ve got the doors open (the screen doors are still closed so no bugs in and no cats out) and he’s getting a nice light breeze coming off the back yard.

Mostly, he’s snoring.

I’ll be spatchcocking a turkey later because I was just too creaky yesterday to cook but oh we shall have food tonight. 😀 I’m still debating if I should marshmallow the sweet potatoes. I mean, that IS traditional but I’m also just fond of mashed sweet potatoes with butter. Oh… since it’s Friday, maybe I should see if I can order some purple ones and have those instead. 😀

Hey! The Borker DID get a groom and is looking snazzy. He does like getting groomed. Spa days for the Potato are a good thing.

From his Auntie Paige:

Today, Gus had two things to bork at and had to pick which one he was going to concentrate on. We were walking by somebody’s house and they walked out of their front door just as we got by them. And then a UPS truck drove past. Gus picked that UPS! He completely ignored the people and let them go on their merry way. 🙂

Best, Paige

Ah, once more into the… surgery ward?

So again in the long line of stuff happening, next week will be another round of let’s see where Rhys is broken and fix it. Maybe. If we can find it.

I can tell you I’m looking forward to actually sleeping a full night but let’s not get too crazy.

The weather’s been odd. Cold at night then amping up to a nice balmy mid 70s in the day. Which is great but oh man, I miss rain and fog. That’s why I do love going up to San Francisco because it’s my favourite kind of weather but dear lord, too expensive to live there. Tamm’s always trying to get me to move to Donegal but as lovely as that place is, it’s a bit too small for me. Also, I like having hot and cold running wifi. 😀

On the writing front, I am healing my brain a bit and plotting. And day dreaming a lot which is actually a good sign because disconnecting is the space I write in. There is this… layer? I don’t have a good word for it but it’s the mindspace where my imagination exists or rather the oddness of words and what I see. That seems to be opening up a bit more.

Mind you, I’ve also been having to share the couch with Badger who is of the opinion that if I bring something to cover my knees with, it is now his and he rakes it into a pile to sleep on. So far, I have lost one blanket and one sheet. I’d lost an additional sheet but I reclaimed that this afternoon.

Harley has spent her evenings hunting the tiny possum we have living on the hill. Actually what she’s doing is death-staring out of the sliding glass door as the wee possum trundles by. None of our cats go outside. Well Badger gets taken to his catio but we don’t let them roam free. I think Harley is just incensed that there is something outside and it either has to obey the house rules and come in or feck off.

Gojira the baby is now larger than both of the others combined. I swear to God she is. She’s a chonker and well, still in the chaos goblin mode of a teenaged cat.

My COVID is long gone and I have some residual coughing from the cold thing I had along with COVID. Of course, I have to take a different COVID test so I can go into surgery but I also have to do bodily fluids tests as well so going to knock that off tomorrow morning. Which means someone going to be sticking a bunch of needles in me and there’s this one guy who is always angry and salty at the lab. I’ve decided if I get assigned to him, I’m going to ask for a re-do.

And now Badger’s pissy because the dog went outside and he didn’t. Because he wants to go to his catio. Oh, and possibly even more salty because all the cats got some flea meds. It’s warm during the day so there’s been some insect activity. Like a plague! Waiting for the frogs.

If you’re in the US and celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you have a great time sharing a meal with friends and family. If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I still hope you have a good meal with people you love or even share a can of sardines with your cat.

Much love to all of you and I’ll keep you up to date on the body shenanigans once I learn more. 😀


Today’s Borking Report

Borks were postponed due to travel and COVID but we are back on sked!


Ah, it’s been very cool in the morning so the Potato had to get his jacket on. Of course Paige and I got scolded because we were chatting about something and holding up his Bork. We HAVE to remember, Bork First, Talk Later.

He apparently had a grand time on his bork and came home very very happy and tired. Currently, he’s snoozing on his bed in the living room.

On Weds, his Auntie Charity will be here to give him a nice scrubbing and a trim because he is a stinky, itchy pupper who needs a good haircut. We’ll see how it goes. 😀

From his Auntie Paige:
Gus had a relatively quiet walk until on the way home a man on a bicycle went by and Gus thought that was very rude of him and had to say so!

I love his big puffer jacket! It makes him look very official. 🙂


Newsletter or Blog? Dogs and Ducks…

Covid’s been fun. So has the chest cold. Good times.

Currently I’m waiting for the rice cooker to finish so I can toss some hot dogs into the steam and let them warm up. Red hot dogs. Which some people tell me the East Coast also has. I’ll take their word for it. They are however the best kind of hot dogs.

Also if you got a duck from GRL, the deadline has been extended because people were taken down by a number of plagues. Once I get all the outstanding ducks, I’ll post them, pick a random winner or five, then spam the link out 😀


You know what helps dry clothes? If you turn on the dryer. Follow me for more insane life hacks! Like a classic golden oldie, do not choke on your own spit!

Due to my own plague-ridden existence, the Potato has not been on borks but it’s also been cold as hell. Right now he’s lounging on his dog bed. He is also going to get a hardcore grooming on Wednesday afternoon. Dunno what kind of trimm I’ll want her to give him but he should look tidy and sweet. It’ll last for about a hot minute before he rolls in wet grass or dirt but I will have tried.

I also have realized I haven’t even seen movies I’d wanted to see like the new (old now) Thor and the recent Ghostbusters. I mean sure shit’s happened but mind candy. I also need to restock my kindle but the sicknesses have wiped out my strength. And my ability to stay awake long enough to read. I do need too find a good mystery series I can binge on.

And someone remind me to get Thanksgiving stuff. I do love a good turkey.

And you know the worst part about laundry? FOLDING! Why is it so hard? And why do we act like we have to go down to the river to pound our clothes against rocks?

Goji has just joined us in the living room. It will be only a matter of time before she chooses violence and chaos. She had been napping on my bed with her brother, Badger. I guess she’s charged up and is ready for mayhem. I love and adore her but shit, she’s very well named.