What makes a character popular? It’s an enduring question, and is particularly interesting in Black LIbrary’s fiction, where darkness and light walk hand in hand, and so many of our heroes would be mass-murdering villains in any other setting. Josh Reynolds’ new novel, Lukas the Trickster, stars a Space Wolf who is an archetypal villain, but a hero of the 41st Millennium – albeit in his own unique way. Here Josh talks about why he thinks Lukas is so popular, and what we can expect from the novel.
Josh: In folklore, the Trickster is the boundary crosser. The archetypal rule-breaker. Tricksters upset convention and flaunt societal rules with a blend of cunning and foolishness. They openly question authority. They make us uncomfortable. But they also make us laugh. That probably explains the enduring appeal of a character like Lukas the Trickster.
We all like to laugh, to see others discomfited and taboos broken. We all like jokes, as long as we aren’t the ones being made fun of. Lukas exists to thumb his nose at others. To make them laugh, and make them uncomfortable.
As the Space Wolves hold themselves apart from their fellow Space Marines, so too does Lukas hold himself apart from the Space Wolves. He mocks their most cherished traditions and reminds them that they are not the demigods they imagine themselves to be, even as he spurs them onto greater efforts – if only to silence his laughter.
A character like Lukas provides certain challenges. Writing them is akin to walking a tightrope. Lean too far one way, they become a caricature. Too far the other, and they lose all sense of fun. The writer must balance the grim and the ridiculous, in order to tell a story that is faithful to the character and the setting both.
That challenge was what drew me to the character, initially. Also, the opportunity to write about one of the most popular factions in the setting – with one of the most vocal fanbases – was hard to resist.
That said, this book was a difficult one to write. I wanted to show why Lukas was allowed to be – well – Lukas. More, I wanted to put him up against the only character acknowledged to be his equal in cunning – the Drukhari corsair, Duke Sliscus. I wanted to show how Lukas became Lukas, finishing what I started in the short story, ‘A Trick of the Light’.
But what started out as a simple coming of age tale twisted into a different sort of story entirely – Lukas became younger; older; almost a different character entirely. The Space Wolves changed as well – were they right or wrong? Monsters, heroes or both? Characters survived the book, only to die in edits. Plots, sub-plots and jokes aplenty were cut out, threaded back in, and expanded.
I honestly have no idea what sort of book Lukas the Trickster has wound up being. Good, I hope. But not the book I expected – or even intended – to write. It defied convention and went its own way. It refused to follow the plan.
Exactly as you’d expect of Lukas the Trickster.
Thank you, Josh! You can find out what sort of results came from this unique writing process now – you can order Lukas the Trickster in hardback, and download the eBook and MP3 audiobook. There are even some copies left of the deluxe Special Edition. Josh’s other Lukas stories – the Quick Read ‘A Trick of the Light’ and audio drama ‘The Art of Provocation’ are also both available to download now.
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