Welcome to another character-focused Monday! I’m super excited about this week’s interview, because the character we’re focusing on today features the lead from one of my favourite science fiction stories. ❤
So let’s get to it, shall we?
R. Curtis Venture is the creator of the Armada Wars universe, and currently the only writer living in it. He was born in Taplow, Bucks, and currently resides in the United Kingdom. He has worked in the entertainment industry, business change and development, intelligence analysis, and the legal sector.
STEAL FROM THE DEVIL
1. Tell me a bit about your character. Who are they, how old are they? What do they look like?
My principal character is Elm Caden. He’s 34 when the story opens in 3745. He’s a nondescript sort of guy, tall but with a fairly lean body. You would look at him and probably not remember. Brown hair and eyes, no tan, no facial hair or distinguishing marks… just a face in the crowd.
2. Does he have any strange or unique physical traits?
He has no odd traits or behaviours physically speaking. Everything about him screams “I’m normal”, which is exactly what he wants you to think.
3. Does he have any quirk or powers?
Caden has no powers whatsoever. He is however somewhat more intelligent than many of the people around him, if that counts as a power. His one quirk is that since a young age he has been deliberately and systematically burying negative emotions into a “void space” he calls the Emptiness. Soon after we meet Caden, that Emptiness becomes his inner voice. And it doesn’t like him very much.
4. Where does he live? What’s it like there?
Caden was raised on a planet called Damastion, which is singularly the most Earth-like planet humans have ever found. It’s considered a paradise world, and only the rich, affluent, and influential can get anywhere near holding real estate there. Day to day, however, he works wherever he is sent. He spends a great deal of time on different starships, and occasionally gets to go to the various worlds of the Imperial Combine.
5. Of all the places he’s visited, which would be his favourite? Why?
It’s clear from all our encounters with Caden that none of the Many Worlds of the empire hold a candle to his homeworld of Damastion. It’s not hard to see why, since Damastion is the only truly Earth-like planet ever colonised by humanity, and it is a truly beautiful planet. Its official categorisation is “Class Zero: Paradise World”, which puts it in a whole different league to most of the colony worlds.
5. What does he do for a living?
Caden is an Imperial Shard. This is an elite operative who works directly for the Empress, and is outside the all the other chains of command. His job is basically to do what she says, with almost unlimited latitude. Need someone taking out? Use a Shard. An ambassador requests close protection? Use a Shard. Something dastardly needs investigating? Use a Shard. You get the idea.
6. A high line of work indeed. Has he ever encountered anything particularly strange on the job? The sort of strange that would later make for a good story?
Being an Imperial operative Elm Caden is not at liberty to turn his work into stories. But if he did… oh boy, would he have some stories to tell. Most of his missions are quite cut-and-dry affairs, dealing with internal threats to the Imperial Combine or gathering information about the various hazards posed by the other major governments. But in the current timeline, he has indeed come across something very strange… an entity he named Voice. It is still not clear exactly what Voice is, but Caden has established that amongst its capabilities is the ability to control the actions of others at distance and use them as ‘mouthpieces’. Voice appears to be behind a large-scale invasion of human territory, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Whatever it is, it is entirely alien to anything Caden has encountered before.
6. And what does Caden do for fun?
We’ve not seen Caden going out of his way to have fun yet — he’s in the middle of an invasion crisis and has no time to stop. He’s laughed with his companions, but that’s about it. Even when he visited a bar on Earth he was miserable. We will at some point see him relaxing, but he will have one eye on the door even then.
7. Sounds like someone needs a vacation! Is he the sort to thrive in chaos, or does he operate better in the calmer settings?
Caden lives for order. His whole reason for existing is to bring the orderly wishes of the Empress into reality, to smooth out the wrinkles in the fabric of Imperial society, and to prevent disorder before it occurs. But this is not to say that he cannot function in a chaotic environment: his calm, reasoned approach lets him operate efficiently and effectively even when the walls of reality are crashing down around him.
7. What is his greatest weakness, his greatest strength?
Caden’s greatest weakness is probably his self doubt, and the Emptiness exacerbates that. He is well aware that he is becoming institutionalised, but cannot envisage himself being anyone else. As far as strengths go he’s very, very good at identifying the hidden strategies behind others’ words and actions, and he is an excellent problem solver. He also has an unshakeable moral centre.
8. What is the best thing that ever happened to him? The worst?
The worst thing that happened to Caden was losing Rendir Throam, his ‘counterpart’ soldier. The two had worked together for ten years, and Caden was closer to him than he was to his own brother. The best thing that has happened is difficult to say, since it’s all been pretty grim so far. He was very pleased to be appointed as a Shard, that’s for certain.
9. Now for a “fun” question. What’s Caden’s favourite weapon?
We’ve not yet seen Caden favouring any particular weapon, but certainly his most used weapon is his automatic rifle. He has quietly rolled his eyes while other members of his team joyfully heft their own favourite hand-cannons, so it may well be that he just views weapons as tools and finds it a bit silly when others become reliant on — or forge emotional attachments to — a particular device.
10. And the question I like to ask everyone: Many writers attach songs to their characters. Does Caden have a “theme” song (or several)?
Caden is a subtly complex character and it’s difficult to attribute a theme song to him without indicating (and spoiling) future developments. As I write his scenes for From Shattered Stars, and think about how they will propel him into Whom Gods Shall Fear, I have in my head ‘This is the End’ by The Doors. But for Caden overall, maybe Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ is more appropriate.
If you want to learn more about Caden, the Shards, and this wonderful little universe, be sure to check out STEAL FROM THE DEVIL. If epic sci-fi is your thing, you will not be disappointed!