Or: All About Sol
Sol was a tough character to write. Not because I didn’t know him; I know him pretty well. He was tough to write for the same reason Yilon was: he was a teenager who was very lost in his own world and his own problems. You can be sympathetic for a kid like that because you know he’s a good kid inside, but when you’re starting a story showing what he has to learn, you have to show the problems. Unfortunately, Sol’s kind of problem (“I just want to do what *I* want”) is one everyone is intimately familiar with, and generally seems to have less patience with than other problems I write about (“I’m gay but I don’t want anyone to know!”).
So we start with some of the factors that isolate Sol. His brother just went off to college. His father has a very firm idea about what his son should be like, partly to do with being a wolf. Sol is hiding his homosexuality (although he does have friends who support him, in school and online), which does tend to isolate someone. So what I was aiming for was that he has reasons to be isolated and moody; he’s just not handling it very well.
As the story goes on, of course, he reacts as any of us might to hyper-realistic dreams that bring things back into the real world. At least, he reacts the way someone might if they hadn’t grown up on a diet of fantasy/occult books or paranormal romances. I tried to approximate as best I could. :) The culmination, of course, comes when all of the support Sol had built up comes crashing down, and he realizes that he has to rely on himself. HeraLedro on FA pointed out after the last segment that Sol’s narrative being in third person makes sense because he relies so much on the world around him (as opposed to Jean’s self-centered first person), and although I admit I hadn’t thought of it that way–I only wrote it that way because it felt right–it fits well.
As a teenager, I was a lot like Sol, though I didn’t identify as gay then and I didn’t play any sport well enough to be on the varsity team. I lived apart from most everyone I went to school with, and we didn’t have cell phones or the Internet then. I didn’t have a great relationship with my family, so I spent a lot of time in my room. I don’t know that I thought about escape as much as he did; in fact, my first year in college I came home to visit once a month. But certainly I was very wrapped up in my own world, and yet I didn’t have a great ambition. Much like Sol, I was waiting for someone else to define me.
So this story, Sol’s story, is kind of my way of going back to tell teenaged me: don’t wait for other people to define you. Define yourself. This applies to Internet boyfriends or school friends or parents (although parents do define you up to a point, and you should keep your relationship with them if you can).
(As we will see in an upcoming book, though, Sol’s problems are not entirely over…)