A Word About Pol and Shira in The Sleeping God

I don’t typically try to explain my characters’ motivations and how I wrote them, but it seems I might have gone too far in A Sleeping God.  I’ll try to address a number of reader objections without any spoilers.

Let me be clear, Pol and Shira are teenagers. They are both exceptionally smart, talented, and capable people. They are in a relationship that is awkward for both of them. Neither have grown up in a natural environment. Pol struggles to react properly around Shira. Shira, on the other hand, has additional pressures (hang-ups?) that become more apparent towards the end of the book. She covers this awkwardness by pinching, hitting and bumping Pol. It isn’t because she is a shrew, it’s because she is having some real difficulties as she develops a relationship with Pol who is, shall we say, an Imperial male. She expresses that inner conflict through physical means. Note that her behavior doesn’t affect Pol’s feelings, but he is sometimes as lost in their relationship as she is. He just reacts differently.

In my own high school days, I observed the physical behavior first hand and didn’t see it then as abuse, but as part of a girl’s attempt to assert herself in a relationship. Perhaps I went a bit overboard, but when you get an idea, as a writer, you sometimes just go with it. I did.

Her reactions doesn’t make her a bad person. You will note she shows a great deal of affection along with her outbursts of whatever you want to call it. In crafting her personality, I consciously made her a very conflicted girl and a great deal of that comes from her upbringing in a unique matriarchal society in Shinkya. To me, as I wrote her, she remains a sympathetic character. Some readers don’t see it that way, and for them, I apologize.


  1. Bill


    Very good of you to share your intent. At first I didn’t get the impression the interactions were mean spirited or intended to be hurtful, more a coping mechanism for a teenager in a awkward situation/relationship, trying to figure things out.

    That said, the repetition and frequency started to turn what I thought above into something that felt less innocent and normal, bordering on something else. If a line wasn’t crossed, it got really, really close.

    It’s clear that wasn’t your intent so thanks for clarifying. Perhaps there is a learning moment possible…. Pol never gave voice to how the behavior made him feel… or ever said stop.

    Anyway, best of luck, I enjoy the stories you write..

  2. PhilC

    Interesting comment, I did wonder a little about the constant ‘abuse’, but just let it go as part of the tale, and as an expression of affection by a young person. Overall I really enjoyed the books, pity I bought and read them all before the re-writes. The important question is how soon is the next in the series, plenty more to write about, and can you please get Demeron back to Pol.

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