Character Bios: Rafaela Loxwell

Steely, long serving captain of HGA November Squad. She demands strict control, especially over herself.

00012 Rafaella Loxwell

Rafaela Loxwell was born in 1968 into a wealthy Brazilian family. She lived in a secure, isolated mansion outside of Rio de Janeiro, where her parents had already planned out her life. They were both members in the Hidden Government Army, and their daughter was going to follow in their footsteps.

Rafaela had other ideas. Through a combination of teenage rebellion and a warm desire to help people less fortunate than her, Rafaela often travelled deep into Rio’s slums. She knew orphans lived on the streets, and wanted to help them any way she could. Rafaela gave herself the responsibility of taking care of them all.

She still has fond memories of the friends she made, though the memories are often mired by sadness. A lot of the children she met – some only a few years younger than her – disappeared without explanation.

Her forthright disobedience was not unsupervised, either. Rafaela thought she was being clever, sneaking in and out of her home while her parents were constantly busy, but over the years Rafaela realised that the Hidden Government had always kept a close eye on her. By the time of Typhoon of Fire, Rafaella Loxwell is Captain of November Squad and has been so for several years. She likes her position; because despite the heavily monitored military she belongs to, Rafaela is able to exert some control and influence to get her own way. She still chooses carries to carry responsibility, and to stand up against any opposition.

Loxwell may come across as mean on first impressions, but she always has the welfare and safety of everybody around her foremost in her mind. She does not abide by sloppiness. Sloppiness leads to mistakes, and mistakes can lead to trouble. She gives everybody a chance to prove themselves, and her ways of encouragement are brash, but fair.

The powers which made her eligible for the Hidden Government Army are remarkable. For as long as she could remember, Loxwell has been able to heal wounds with self control. This adept self control ability extends to every small function of her body; from maintaining steady heart rate and breathing, to forcing certain muscles to immediately overwork or relax through conscious command. She can force herself not to perspire, and control her own fatigue and hunger, holding them back with steady regulation. Her ability clearly plays into Loxwell’s formal, take-charge personality. She is a woman who can make herself relax, but refuses to. In fact, she rather likes staying constantly alert and on her toes.  She has massive responsibility after all, as captain of her squad.

In combat, Loxwell favours physical, close range attacking. She uses a unique sword, named Fulvia – named after the ambitious Roman political figure and the electromagnetic substance. A technological weapon powered by Thunder magic, Fulvia can be charged with electricity to cause shock and burn damage. Or may seem viol, but Loxwell prefers a job taken care of.

She rarely uses Combat Magic, or fire arms unless necessary. Loxwell’s sword is enough, and she expects her team to contribute. Loxwell’s prowess and command have see her offered many promotions to become an officer, but she consistently declines. The battlefield is her place, where she can keep a close eye on everyone and everything.


Advertisements

Author’s Notes #2: Into the Fire

Let’s talk about Typhoon of Fire, the sequel to Call of the Conjurer.

2016-design-copy

This book was always in the back of my mind. At the very least, I had drafted some of the major plot points as early as 1999.

Another prequel before the Bloodfest series really begins, Typhoon of Fire is a notable mark in the lives of the leading characters in the series. New soldiers Ace Mcdagger, Shimon Akasone and Tiffany Milich have been through a lot more combat since their graduation in Call of the Conjurer, and have enjoyed a gentle, serene tour with Sierra Squad ever since.

But things had to change.

New Setting

In retrospect, I would like to write more about the cast of Sierra Squad more. They get a brief look in during one of the Typhoon of Fire‘s flashback chapters, but the morose collective in November Squad and their head strong leader Captain Rafaella Loxwell were the more battered, despondent, colourful bunch to tell a story about. Newbies Ace and co – including plucky unlucky fellow “green” soldier Gill Pillson – are dropped into the ‘fire’ of the sweltering Malaysian wilderness and put to the test by their stern new captain.

Captain Loxwell is a marked change from Captain Mason in Call of the Conjurer. She is strict and intimidating, and doesn’t seem to understand the ‘fuss’ over Ace Mcdagger. He tries hard to impress, but not as hard as he should do. Tiffany shines at least; Captain Loxwell regards her highly as fellow woman in the military. It’s a highly pro-feminist attitude, and one I’m glad to encourage. Where Ace had Captain Mason beforehand, Tiffany is given a mentor in Captain Loxwell.

 

_20170405_071728

Captain Loxwell’s stern leadership brings a change to the group dynamic.

Several new components to the Bloodfest series lore are introduced in this book, including other branches of the Hidden Government Army and a better examination of the way Magic works. At the start of the story, November Squad have lost a large number of their team mates following an unprepared assault on black listed Hidden Government facility, only known as the “D” Laboratory. The blame for the failure is constantly passed around between the leading officers of November Squad and the higher command; the Air Force soldiers, who are introduced in this book as the secret armed force’s own “Eyes in the Sky”. The Air Force wield a lot of power and authority over the Ground Forces, which keeps November Squad as the respected underdogs. I love an underdog tale, and the Bloodfest series is full of them.

New Bonds

Ace’s desire to prove himself before Captain Loxwell is tested further with the introduction of his estranged cousin (or should that be strange cousin) Damian Hassler. The young lad is a handful. He’s arrogant, destructive, disobedient, and perhaps even insane; but he looks up to Ace as an older brother. It’s a new dynamic, creating a great duo pairing to coincide with Ace and Shimon, and Shimon and Tiffany.

In fact “duos” is a major theme of Typhoon of Fire. Close bounds form the story together, from friends, lovers, comrades and rivals. All the characters meet their match both good or bad in this book. Ace stresses over Damian, the lovers Shimon and Tiffany face relationship turmoil as they juggle duty and romance, Loxwell and her trusted ally Lieutenant Bordestein keep each other grounded. Even the villains and their motivations are driven by the common theme of “duos”. Trying to spot them all in the story will take some time.

_20170405_065820

A sketch of Damian, introduced to Bloodfest as a hot headed renegade / borderline psychopath (who you want to keep on your side).

The other major theme of the book is Hell – fire and discomfort, suffering and tragedy.  The river journey early on was the first part of the book I wrote, as a starting point for the visuals: the general colour palette and mood I wanted for the book. There’s a lot of orange haze and burned out decay, in-between scenes of vibrant green life. Admittedly I was heavily inspired by Apocalypse Now and other Vietnam war films for the setting – which in turn was based on the book Heart of Darkness. The Kalimantan region of Malaysia is beautiful and wild, but also dangerous and unfamiliar. When draped in a constantly fire scorched sky, it can be quite a daunting landscape. The jungle setting of the Kalimantan is also a far cry away form the clean comforts of Myrtle Beach in Call of the Conjurer. In the Kalimantan the soldiers are truly living – surviving – day to day on rations and requiring to be on guard at all times.

Malaysia is not the only backdrop to the story. The cast venture off all over the world, reaching as far as Canada, New York, Warsaw, and the Huayna Potosi mountain range in Bolivia. These soldiers do get around.

There’s another theme throughout the book – life, and whether ‘Life’ is always a wondrous miracle. Sometimes ‘Death’ may be the kindest alternative, but I’ll leave this interpretation to the readers. I’m not inciting an anti-life movement here, but I enjoy a skewed look on the world.

New Danger

A sequel needs to raise the stakes, but this book is still a prequel to what is to come. The main cast are still young and inexperienced, and their adversaries need to be a raised threat, but still not as bad as what may come in the future. Juggling this balance was an interesting challenge. The immediate antagonists; the mad scientist Dr Weiss and traitorous witch soldier Nathan Edgrech, are only human despite their dangerous capabilities. Dr Weiss is a man spoken about in legend, and Edgrech stirs nothing but contempt among his former comrades. He’s sick in the head and deviously cruel, but he can only fight dirty, which shows how much of a coward he is.

Even the early monsters encountered; the Mirezyns and Towermen, are relatively docile and easy to defeat. It’s when the story reaches a point-of-no-return around chapters 16 and 17 that the stakes are unevenly raised, and by chapter 20 all hell is literally breaking loose. The encounters are more visceral, mixing science, nature and magic in ways it should not. If Call of the Conjurer seemed tame on the horror aspect, Typhoon of Fire kicks it up a notch. It kicks its teeth out.

 

Tof Tree Monst doodle

Pen scribble of the kind of ‘living hell’ organisms in the story.

Overall, Typhoon of Fire is a story about challenge and change. There are several moments for the characters to take a breather away from the battlefield and relax. There are always moments of light comedy throughout (and some moments of dark comedy), but things tend to get harder before they get any better, and there is a tremendous tonal shift by the end of the story. I’m proud of how it came out, and preliminary reviews say it is better than Call of the Conjurer.

For the full experience, you’ll just have to read on.

Typhoon of Fire is available on Amazon Kindle right now.