Half the fun is the backstory. Little of it ever appears in the final draft of a novel, unless you're writing some epic family drama, but as writers we want our characters to have 'real' lives.
What happened in their past to make them the people they are? What victories, what defeats shaped their view of the world?
Over the next few weeks I'm going to look inot teh backgrounds of each of the main players. There's stuff on Billi that never made it into the books that I feel might be fun to reveal here. But first I'll start with her dad.
Arthur SanGreal is a damaged man. Physically and emotionally scarred by what's happened to him I think he was a man who had ideals, then discovered those ideals could not be met in the real world. His attempts to keep honest, to keep moral, to keep the faith led him down a very dark path and I'm not sure he'll ever find his way back.
Arthur was a captain in the Royal Marine commandos, Percival was his sargeant. Back then, he felt he was on the side of the angels. He was a proficeint soldier, a reliable leader of men, a safe pair of hands. Not flash, but proficient.
That all changed in Bosnia.
For those of you too young to remember it was a civil war that broke out in the early 1990's in the former Yogoslavia. Ethnic and religious divisions resulted in some of the worse atrocities since the Second World War. Camps were set up, the likes of which Europe thought they'd never see again and the phrase 'ethnic cleansing' became the justification of all sorts of horrors and too many massacres to relate here.
I'm not political, but it's safe to say that the rest of the world really didn't know what to do, but make it worse. Impotent peacekeepers handed over thousands of innocents to be slaughtered and, through vain attempts to strike a deal, permitted the war to escalate to obscene proportions.
And broke Arthur SanGreal. You could say he merely joined in the madness. After standing by and allowing evil to be carried out under the flag of surrender, he took matters into his own hands. He, Percival and a few others decided to address the balance, and went off reservation. He was found out, and dishonourably discharged. Bosnia was a dirty little war and no-one came out of it well.
He went off the rails. He suffered from Post-traumatic stress syndrome and was soon living on the streets of London. And that's where Gwaine found him and recruited him into the Knights Templar.
Gwaine, for all his faults and rivalries with Arthur, was his saviour. He turned Arthur's depression (which is anger turned inwards) into an all-consuming fury, aimed at the Unholy. By discovering pure evil, Arthur was able to feed his demons, and thus find purpose in his life.
And then he met Dr. Jamila Khan...