Beautiful People, Vol. 15: Aunt Maji from “The Keeper’s Curse”

Beautiful People 1

Beautiful People is a monthly blog meme hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. Every month they pose 10 questions for writers to answer about their writing and give readers the opportunity to learn more about the writer’s characters.

Since Mother’s Day was this past Sunday, I decided to focus on a character in my WIP whom the protagonist Eva considers the closest thing she has to a mother. Aunt Maji has raised Eva ever since Eva’s parents were killed when she was 5 years old. (Eva’s mother was Maji’s younger sister.) I had done last year’s Parental Edition BP post on Aunt Maji and her husband Lusan, but after reading this month’s questions it seemed like the perfect time to dedicate a solo post to Eva’s tila (Fei for “aunt”).

Some quick details about Aunt Maji: She’s a 41-year-old winged Feiri, with green eyes and wavy-curly red hair with natural blonde highlights. She also has a very distinct Fei occupation that you’ll learn about in one of the upcoming questions. So, shall be begin?

(Visit the Beautiful People category page to catch up on past BP posts.)

Aunt Maji BP collage

Images found on Pinterest. Credits as follows, clockwise from top right: GypsyMoonSister, Margaret Tarrant, Steve Hanks, and DIY Kawaii.

1. How often does Aunt Maji smile? Would she smile at a stranger?

Every day! Aunt Maji is content and personable by nature, so she would smile and say “Hello” or “Good morning” to anyone she passes.

2. What is the cruelest thing that Aunt Maji has ever been told? What was her reaction?

Short version: The school headmaster once criticized Aunt Maji’s parenting skills, and she took it very personally.

Longer version: After Eva’s parents were killed and she was adopted by Aunt Maji and Uncle Lusan, she had some anger issues that arose when her peers bullied her. Eventually she got into fights and other kinds of trouble; and a couple times, her cousin Gidion would get involved to help her. As a result, Aunt Maji frequently visited the school headmaster when either child was disciplined. And during their last meeting, the headmaster told Aunt Maji that he couldn’t fathom how her son and niece behaved at home, and that Maji wasn’t doing everything she needed to as a mother to raise them well. Ouch.

How did Maji react? Well, the criticism stung, especially since Maji takes pride in being a mother. She fought back tears when she walked the fledglings home after that meeting, too. The trouble is, she had always been understanding of Eva’s behavior, because she knew where the girl’s anger was coming from; and she figured it go away in time. But, starting that night, Maji started putting her foot down with Eva more often, and tried harder to help her niece find more constructive ways of letting off steam.

3. What is the kindest thing that Aunt Maji has ever been told? What was her reaction?

Any compliments Aunt Maji has received on her name-giving skills. (See more on that in #4 below.) She’s always encouraged to know that her work has a positive impact on the lives of her clients and their children. And a non-spoilery bit from TKC: Aunt Maji is asked by Prince Milos of the Fei to name his first child after it’s born. Having the chance to name a future ruler of your people – I don’t think a name-giver can ask for a greater honor, or compliment of their skills. 🙂

4. What is one strong memory that has stuck with Aunt Maji since childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

Maji’s strongest childhood memory was the moment she and her family realized that she had the ability of a ryenara, or name-giver. It happened after Maji’s younger sister (Eva’s mother) was born. A male name-giver (ryenar) came to their home to name the baby girl. He did this by holding the infant, closing his eyes, and calling upon his and the infant’s magic to help him see images that would reflect the baby’s personality, hobbies, or future as an adult.

This was the first time Maji had ever watched a name-giver at work. And even though she was only 5 years old, she found it fascinating. So, after the ryenar had named the baby (Trelanata, or “song of the stars”) and left, Maji touched her sister’s bare foot and closed her eyes. Since she wasn’t trained in name-giving, the images she saw were jumbled and hazy, but she saw bits and pieces of a young Fei woman singing (even heard what sounded like a woman’s singing voice) and traveling to different cities across the Great Isle. It’s hard to say whether the official ryenar had seen the same vision, but in hindsight Maji agrees that Trelenata was a fitting name for her sister. And once their parents realized what had happened – and more importantly, what Maji had seen – her path in life became quite clear.

5. What book (an actual published book) do you think Aunt Maji would benefit from reading?

One of Maji’s flaws is being too self-sacrificing. In other words, she can be too selfless sometimes and forget her own needs. So, I’d recommend A Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and The Woman’s Book of Confidence by Sue Thoele Patton to Maji. She would definitely appreciate the insights she’d find in both books on motherhood, creativity, and inner peace. But more importantly, she’d learn quite a bit about the importance of taking care of herself and striving for a better balance between meeting her own needs as well as the needs of others.

Of course, both books would have to be translated into Fei so that Maji could read them. 😉

6. Has Aunt Maji ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did she react?

Not really. Maji may be a free spirit, but not in an adventurous or daredevil way. The most “serious” injuries she’s ever had were cuts and bruises during her fledgling years. Otherwise, she’s cautious when it comes to physical risk.

7. Does Aunt Maji like and get along with her neighbors?

For the most part, yes. Maji gets along well with most people; and if one of her neighbors was outside or passed by on the street, she would stop to say “Hello” and chat with them for a few minutes. She’s a friendly neighbor, but not in a nosy or overbearing way.

8. On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult), how easy is Aunt Maji to get along with?

Probably a 2 or a 3. That’s  evident from Questions #1 and #7 above. Maji also enjoys cooking and catering to visitors, so if you stop by her family’s kagende, she’ll take very good care of you. 😉 At the same time, Aunt Maji is gentle, sensitive, and accepting. She can try a little too hard to get along with everyone at her own expense; and not everyone might “get” her whimsical blend of wisdom, altruism, and openmindedness.

9. If Aunt Maji could travel anywhere in the world, where would she go?

If we’re talking about anywhere in TKC’s story world? Suderland. Aunt Maji would LOVE to go there. She’s a summer / warm weather person, so she’d relish the tropical climate, ocean breezes, and brightly colored flowers. She’d love the attire there, too, especially the loose-fitting dresses made from brightly-colored, lightweight fabrics and the gemstone jewelry sold at the local markets. (FYI- For Suderland, think Filipino and African styles meet the Middle Ages, sort of like Dorne from George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series but different.)

10. Who was the last person Aunt Maji held hands with?

Uncle Lusan. After all, he is her husband. 🙂

That’s it for this month’s edition of Beautiful People. What do you think of Aunt Maji now that you know her a little better? Do you have any other questions for / about her?

22 thoughts on “Beautiful People, Vol. 15: Aunt Maji from “The Keeper’s Curse”

  1. Aw this is cool! I really like Aunt Maji’s naming ability. It’s really neat. I’ve always thought names have a lot of power to those they’ve been given to.

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    • Thanks! 🙂 I wouldn’t say that Aunt Maji’s ways are rubbing off on Eva (otherwise, Eva would be a lot nicer to the Mountain Folk when the story begins), but her aunt’s advice does make her think twice about things.

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  2. Pingback: Reading Links…5/19/16 – Where Worlds Collide

  3. I think I’d like Aunt Maji as either an Aunt OR a neighbor, as she sounds great 🙂
    I love that name givers are an occupation/calling in TKC’s world, that is SO cool!! Though you’re right about names/name lore being huge in fantasy novels, I know that I never tire of it. The power of words, names, and language/speech has always been a huge interest of mine. So I love the unique spin you put on it here.

    Maji’s “weakness” of being too altruistic/self-sacrificing sounds like it could turn self-effacing at times. Does her giving/loving behavior ever allow Eva to be the opposite? I’m interested in their dynamic.

    On your answer to #2 – That’s terrible – but completely believable. I’d like to say I’ve never witnessed similar treatment of a mother, but that wouldn’t be true. Poor Maji – she sounds so lovely and like she does her absolute best 😦

    Regardless, I really enjoyed reading more about her!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! 🙂 Maji is such a warm, loving character, so I’m glad everyone seems to like her so far.

      It’s weird, I hadn’t given the “importance of names” bit much thought when I created the name-giver occupation. It just… happened. And then once I read other fantasy books like Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles and revised Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea cycle, I realized what I had done. O_O Strange how things you read about weave themselves into your own work, isn’t it?

      “Does her giving/loving behavior ever allow Eva to be the opposite?”

      I wouldn’t say it allows Eva to be the opposite of giving / loving. But there’s one scene in Chapter 6 of TKC where Eva’s in such a foul mood that she snaps at Aunt Maji despite her aunt’s careful approach to the subject. So, there are times when Maji’s ways coax Eva to calm down, and there are other times when they don’t. Does that make sense?

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    • Thanks! Eva thinks very well of Aunt Maji, since her aunt is the mother she never had as she grew up. Their personalities are quite different (Eva’s more of a tomboy, and sharp around the edges sometimes *lol*), but Eva has learned to value her aunt’s wisdom and nurturing. In fact, the scene from TKC that I was editing this weekend is a great example of their relationship. 😉

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