Call to Arms: The Creation of Serveus Kunar

The character Serveus Kunar actually started with a name, which is the opposite of how I usually develope characters (usually the name is the very last thing I decide on and they have placeholders like [name] identifying them for much of a first draft). Many years ago, I was playing a Star Wars-themed role-playing game and needed an idea for my imperial officer character. The name Serveus Kunar was suggested by one of the other gamers, and I took it. I used the name again years later when playing Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars R.P.G. with other friends for a different, but similar, character.

The name was next seen again in my first short story to ever be published in a paying print magazine, "Call to Arms" (also available on this blog, since said magazine no longer exists). It started as an assignment for the Long Ridge Writer's Group "Breaking into Print". At the time I was given the assignment, I was working on developing the Call to Arms world and decided to test it out. Having really liked the name Serveus Kunar for years, I resurrected it and gave the name to the main character of that story.

I developed a totally new character to go with the name, and from there a whole planet and local culture based on the name. The previous Long Ridge Assignment had had me come up with characters based on people I knew. I therefore based Serveus Kunar's personality off of a combination of one of my coworkers and a family member (I will not say who). I was fairly happy with how "Call to Arms" (the short story) turned out so when it came time to get down to planning the characters for the novel, Serveus Kunar jumped out at me as the perfect candidate to fill the role of "The Captain" (as the placeholder then had him).

I knew what I had in mind; I intended as a sort of an "anti-Han Solo". Han Solo had always been one of my favourite characters growing up. I wanted someone with his swagger, charisma, "I don't care attitude" but with a twist -- instead of a "slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindler" he'd be an archaic, backwards, chauvanistic dinosaur. The parfait, gentil chevalier, but with a certain edge. It didn't take much to fit the Serveus Kunar of "Call to Arms" into this role by envisioning the trials and tribulations he went through in the decades that pass between the two pieces. "Call to Arms" (the short story) shows Serveus Kunar the boy just as he's becoming a man, whereas Call to Arms the novel shows us Serveus Kunar the battle-hardened veteran. The result is one of my favourite characters to date.

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