Author’s note: If you haven’t read my books yet, you should definitely give the new omnibus a try. On the one hand, the price is fantastic, but also, the omnibus contains Eli’s first three books, ending with The Spirit Eater. You can try the first chapters of The Spirit Thief for free on my site. And if you’ve already completed the first three, I have a large chunk of the fourth book, The Spirit War, on my site just for you, along with even more Nico! There are, of course, spoilers for the first three, so read at your own risk.
One of the things I love about being a writer is when people message me about their favorite characters. Eli is, of course, very popular (Eli: de Classes. Rachel: Shut up). Josef and Miranda are also up there, as is Slorn. But what never ceases to amaze me is how many people write to say how much they love Nico.
For those of you who haven’t read my books, Nico is the only girl in the Eli Thief Trio. He is also a demon seed who is exceedingly dangerous and has had a very hard life. She came with Josef, my serious swordsman, and stays by his side regardless, an aspect that has always delighted me. Eli may be the leader, but Josef is the glue that holds the Monpress thieves together. Ahhh, group dynamics. Anyway, I’m still a little surprised at how many people seem to really like Nico. Not because she’s not worth loving, but because of the entire series, she was the hardest character for me to write.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know about her role in the books. I knew her story before I started writing Spirit Thief, until the huge role she has to play in the events of Eli’s latest book, Spirit’s End, which I won’t go into here. But while I had his plot from the start, I didn’t really have Nico, the character, until the final edits of The Spirit Thief, and even then I didn’t really get into Nico the way I did did with my other characters until it was time to write his roles in Spirit Rebellion (volume 2). It wasn’t because I didn’t like her or that she wasn’t important, although her role in Volume 1 was more limited than in subsequent volumes. It was because Nico was so screwed up silent.
All of my characters are me in one way or another. That’s how I write my people, find their aspect that I can really relate to and then work from there. Eli was exceptionally easy to write, perhaps too easy, in fact. Miranda also came naturally, as did Josef. Edward, Duke of Prison was REALLY easy (I’m also a control freak), as was Benehime, though I won’t get into the implications of Benehime being easy for me to write. But Nico was different. Nico was silent. In a huge cast of high profile personalities, Nico was shy. She hid her issues, and as schizophrenic as it sounds, I was never able to bring her out and show me her voice. That’s part of why she doesn’t talk as much as she probably should in The Spirit Thief, I just didn’t know what she meant. I would give her a blank page, but she wouldn’t fill it. Considering the huge role I had to play for her, it was very alarming.
When it came time to start Nico’s roles in The Spirit Rebellion, I knew it was time to do something drastic. So I turned off the computer and left the house. I called in sick at work and went to a forgotten corner of my local library, then, sitting with my notebook, kicked everyone out of my head and turned all my attention to Nico. I asked him questions, I wrote his story, I asked him about Josef. I focused on her, then I shut up and listened. And calmly, Nico began to speak.
It was probably one of the most artistic “my characters are people in my head” things I’ve ever done, but it was necessary to really understand who Nico was. See, she had actually been trying to speak from the very beginning, but Eli and I had to shut up enough to hear her. But even when she started talking, I still had to learn to listen because, of all my characters, Nico is probably the most different from me. She’s quiet and shy where I’m loud and outgoing, an introvert to my outgoing. Like Eli, I tend to speak above people. Like Miranda, I can be very sure of my own path. But Nico is a creature that I had a hard time understanding. It took me a long time to figure out who she was and what interested her, but I never regretted a moment of it, because despite all her quiet shyness, I think Nico has become one of the most deeper and more interesting. in the Eli series.
The Spirit Eater is Nico’s book more than any of my other books could be considered to belong to any other character. It’s also one of the books I’m most proud of. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited to share Eli’s final two books, but seeing Nico come out of his shell and into his own in Spirit Eater has been one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever had. ever done as a writer. .
Eli may get the spotlight and name on the cover, but in many ways it’s Nico’s story just as much as his. I can’t quite explain how vital it was for me to do well with my demon seed, not to let it down. It seems kind of silly to feel guilty and obligated for someone who doesn’t exist, but I felt on a very deep level that I owed Nico his story. The Spirit Eater caused me more angst than any other book in the Eli series, but it was worth it. When it was all said and done, I didn’t let my girlfriend down. I succeeded for her, just like she always did for Josef and Eli, and even now that the show is over, I don’t think I’ll stop being happy about it.