Judging by the feedback, everyone’s favourite character in my new fantasy novel To Create a World is Torvol the Goblin:
“All goblins are beaten when we’re young,” Torvol explained, “it makes us hungry.”
“For power, for position, for profit. Beating is a challenge, not a punishment. So a goblin child who is more fearful than the others will get extra beatings – but he’ll also know he’s getting extra beatings, that he’s being singled out.”
“I don’t get it.”
“If he knows he’s getting extra beatings, then there’s nothing left for him to be afraid of. The worst has already happened. He’s surviving harsher treatment than the others. It’s all part of goblin formation, Tom. The confident ones realise they’re getting away lightly, and that makes them doubt their strength a little. The insecure ones realise they’re enduring the worst of anyone, and that gives them confidence. It’s brilliant.”
“I bet you were never beaten then,” Tom said morosely.
“Oh, I had my fair share,” Torvol grinned. But then his smile twisted bitterly. “But there are far worse things for a goblin than being beaten.”
Tom was too deeply immersed in his worries to ask what that meant.
“So are you going to beat me?” he asked instead.
“No, Tom, I’m not going to beat you,” Torvol sighed. “In the end you’re not a goblin. Who knows what effect it would have on you?”
I enjoyed writing Torvol because he’s almost the complete opposite of Tom. He’s choleric to Tom’s melancholic, but that rare breed of choleric who’s wise enough to be magnanimous without losing the inherent sharpness of his temperament.
I think many readers enjoyed seeing the Goblin tear into Tom, pushing him not so gently into getting his act together. And I loved that Tom was finally forced to confront a perspective so different from his own, without the excuse of turning the Goblin into an enemy.
It was also fun to try out some of my temperament ideas – wondering what it would be like for a whole race of creatures to be more choleric as an entire people and culture. Choleric was the obvious choice for Goblins, not because all cholerics are devious, subterranean, greedy little monsters (I still have choleric friends…) but because (brace yourselves, melancholics) the choleric temperament would ennoble the otherwise borderline-evil Goblin race, giving them a worldview and a way of thinking that encompasses not only greed and cunning, but wisdom and greatness also.
Torvol gave me an opportunity to play with the strengths of the choleric temperament – ambition and a quick wit – to offset Tom’s weaknesses, without him becoming choleric in the process. Who wouldn’t want a Torvol to advise them from time to time? Someone wiser and more astute than you, with an unrelenting yet open-minded conception of profit. You’ll be pleased to know I have big plans for him in future books.
If you enjoyed this excerpt about Torvol the Goblin, you might like my new fantasy novel To Create a World. Check it out!