“Ceph came from the worldbuilding. From thinking about her position in her world—deep, deep in coral cities where all evidence in her immediate environment has reinforced an idea that she’s part of a superior race of beings. Her character was built from the assumptions she would have about life and how that distorts her conception of how she fits into the widerworld. Her scientific curiosity launches her up into that wider world, and even if she spends a lot of that time flailing and pouting, she does an amazing job doing the hard work of reassessing her relationship and responsibility to that “newly discovered” world.

Iliokai emerged. I’d inadvertently tapped into some uncomfortable stuff with that character, and I was delightfully surprised by some of the things she showed me—about creativity and self-sacrifice and found family. Her life experiences had also reinforced some misconceptions about her place in the world, so through her journey with Ceph and their interactions with each other, they kind of both get a shift in worldview that helped them to see what they’d been missing while they’d been going it alone.” -Rae Mariz