In preparation for my workshop at the Kentucky Writer’s Workshop, I dusted off an old post that I never finished because it never sounded quite right…
When I watched Rogue One last year, I kept watching Jyn and thinking “WOW! Now that’s totally my Kayden.” But I was wrong and when one particular scene played, I realized that Kayden is not Jyn at all. Kayden is Cassion.
FAIR WARNING: Stop reading right now if you haven’t seen the recent addition to the Star Wars pantheon: Rogue One because the following article contains ALL SORTS of spoilers.
Once upon a time. . . in a galaxy far, far away, democracy died. . . to the sound of thunderous applause. A senator was horrified, though she was nearly alone in it, and we all remember watching that horror and then heartache desolate our favored heroine—emotions and reactions which I believe played at least some small part in her later demise.
Over twenty years of rebellion and the abuses perpetrated by an evil empire on the defenseless public followed. And is it any surprise that such behavior created the characters of Jyn Erso and Cassion Andor, obvious frontrunners to Han Solo and Leia Organa. . .
Though it was quite a shock to me, one evening while watching the movie with my family, to realize that Kayden is (almost exactly) Cassion.
Here is where the spoilers begin. Otherwise known as your last chance to leave if you’ve not seen the movie.
First: Cassion was dragged into the rebellion at 6 years old. Kayden was 10 when the Order snapped her up, though she was 7 when she was left alone. . . on the streets of Orum. . . so you could argue that she was “in this” since she was 7 years old.
Second: In service to the rebellion, Cassion—in very much the same position as Kayden is in the Order—did things he was not always proud of and followed orders he did not always agree with.
Third: Cassion was ordered to kill someone; a man who was reportedly a threat to everything the rebellion held dear, someone who had helped the Empire create a weapon that would wipe out anyone who did not bow down to the ruthless and evil government he chose to work for.
And. . . like Kayden, he did not pull the trigger.
I could go on. . . and on, but I’m sure you get the picture by now.
Obviously, I was floored by the similarities, especially given that I had written Kayden’s story over three years before watching the movie—long before there was even talk of an Episode VII, much less a mention of Rogue One. So how could there be such distinct parallels? It shouldn’t be possible. . . and yet, they are there for anyone to see.
In particular, one conversation between Cassion and Jyn hit home for me.
Cassion: I had every chance to pull the trigger… but did I? Did I?
Jyn: You might as well have. Those were alliance bombs that killed him.
Cassion: I had orders… orders that I disobeyed. But you wouldn’t understand that.
Jyn: Orders? When you know they’re wrong. You might as well be a storm trooper.
Cassion: What do you know? We don’t all have the luxury of deciding when and where we want to care about something. Suddenly the rebellion is real for you. Some of us live it.
I’ve been in this fight since I was 6 years old. You’re not the only one who lost everything. Some of us just decided to do something about it.
Jyn: You can’t talk your way around this.
Cassion: I don’t have to.
~ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Now, before you get all excited, thinking that some incarnation of this conversation made its way into book 5 of the Order of the MoonStone, it didn’t—though not for lack of trying. I wrote it in at least three times between two different characters and Kayden, but it never worked the way I wanted it to and I finally had to admit that it was not meant to be.
But the knowledge remains, as does the obvious similarities—and they are there for everyone to see if they look for them. . . and maybe sometimes even when they’re not looking.
That is one of the things I love about writing. . .
You have two stories that take place in vastly different worlds—and there is that one character who it almost feels as if they have been plucked from one and dropped into another. It’s like a string that connects our worlds. And, yes, it is awe-inspiring. . . and somewhat intimidating to realize that I have a string that connects my little world to the awesome world that George Lucas created oh so many years ago.
It feels as if I have reached some new level of responsibility, and it is much more humbling. . . and frightening. . . than I could ever have imagined.
Not that I’ll admit it had anything to do with how long it took me to finish book 5 mind you. . .
Just imagine if you will, the awesome pressure it places on an author—to feel as if they have such lofty expectations to live up to—and you can begin to understand.
But it is finished, and it is—in my own personal opinion—a thing of beauty. Like every story of mine, it took some unexpected turns, but once I finally stopped trying to force it into the shape I thought I wanted, it flowed freely. . . and I was forced to admit that the end product was much better than I ever could have done on my own.
So there you have it.
I hope you’ll all read it. And I hope you all love it. And, of course, I hope I’m not alone in my comparison of a character who walked into my life and shouted her story at me until I couldn’t ignore her any longer.
Now. . . you’re wondering what this has to do with my upcoming workshop.
It has EVERYTHING to do with it.
On the one hand, we have my character Kayden, who is one of the most imperfect female heroines in fiction. On the other, we have Jyn Erso, who is one of my new favorite female heroines in fiction!
Neither of them is perfect. Neither of them does the right thing all the time. Neither of them makes the best choice every time. But BOTH of them put themselves out there 100% of the time and they give their EVERYTHING to what they believe in, even if it means they could lose their life in the process!
These are characteristics of a great heroine, a great role model, a great example!
THESE are the types of characters we need more of!
The above topic is part of my upcoming workshop at the Kentucky Writer’s Conference in April.
I hope you’ll join us at this FREE event.
Leading up to the event, I plan to post in the page about different topics of conversation–and I just might use some replies to those conversations in the actual workshop.
I hope you will check out the posts and join in the discussion as I continue to prep for the workshop in April.
Until next time. . .