Soul Swallowers: Writing children into adult books

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I love writing children into my books. They add a bit of light-hearted tenderness and comedy between all the adult intrigue, betrayal, and gore.  They offer a fresh perspective on the adult characters around them and raise the stakes for those battling for peace and kindness.  Children don’t show up in all my stories, but they play a small role in Soul Swallower.

You’ve met, Raze, Johzar and Danzell, and Sajem.

This little snippet introduces Chellai (age 6) and Thanelan (age 4).

***

Raze carted the empty basket along the path while Chellai skipped ahead picking coneflowers and snowy oxeye. Thanelan rode on his shoulders, the blond four-year-old gripping Raze’s forehead.

“I didn’t see the witch, me lord,” Chellai said, her voice comically high.

“Lanya teases you. You mustn’t wander alone, but there’s no witch in the forest. And I am Raze. I’m not a lord.”

“Lanya says we’re to call you lord, me lord.” Chellai still sorted through Lanya’s many rules and pursed her lips at the contrary instructions.

“We don’t have to,” Thanelan said from above. “’Cause we’re free. Raze made me mum and me free before we come to Kestrel. Mum says Lanya is uppity on workin’ for a lord. That’s why she says it.”

Raze adjusted the small hands edging over his eyes. “Lanya can call me a lord if it helps her feel uppity, but you should call me Raze.”

“Mum says Lanya is a meddler,” Thanelan said. “And Lanya says me mum is a gossip.”

“I will keep that in mind.” Raze chuckled. The two women worked in the hearth, and the room was toasty enough without their squabbling.

Chellai stopped to collect another flower, her bouquet almost complete. “Lanya says you will be the king of Kestrel when Lord Rydan dies. And so I should show respect and say ‘me lord’ now.” She twirled and skipped ahead.

“Chellai!”

The girl spun with a wide-eyed pout.

Raze tempered his exasperation, set the basket down, and lowered Thanelan to the path. He beckoned to Chellai with a smile, and when she edged closer, he squatted down between the two. “Now, I will tell you a thing I want you to remember. I am only Raze. I’m not a lord, and I will never be a lord. We live in conquered lands ruled by an Ezari empress, and she doesn’t appreciate talk of kings. I raise horses and make carvings in wood. You help in the hearth and the garden. We all do our part, like kin. I am free and you are free. We are the same.”

“Criminals and cravens says me mum,” Thanelan added. “And the poor. We was the poor.”

“True enough.” Raze dropped a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I am the descendant of robbers and cutthroats, no doubt. But those years are long in the past, and we can decide our destinies today, can’t we?”

“Me mum and da and me could leave whenever we want,” Thanelan said to Chellai, “because we’re free.”

“I don’t want to leave, me lord,” Chellai’s voice squeaked.

Raze sighed. “Then you may stay, of course.” He picked up the basket. “Now, let’s be on our way. Samoth and I need to bring in the horses, and you both have chores to finish. Let’s not keep uppity Lanya waiting.”

129 thoughts on “Soul Swallowers: Writing children into adult books

  1. I almost exclusively avoid writing children because I don’t have confidence in my ability to capture their voices/perspectives authentically. You have no such issues, Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sean. I worked as a mental health counselor for preschoolers, so I have a wealth of goofy stories and quirky personalities in my head. I just have to make sure that when I include them, that there’s a reason beyond just being fun. 🙂 Lol

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah says:

    I’ve never really thought about the difficulty to include children into an adult story but now that I do I think they could be quite essential to provide a different angle to it. And I really love the sweet banter of these two and the mention on ‘uppity Lanya’. 😊❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sarah. 🙂 The challenge is that they need to be relevant and serve a purpose besides just being cute! I used to work with little kids in this age group and I love including them when I can justify it. 🙂 Thanks so much for the visit, and have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. regerman says:

    This is a great idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Teri Polen says:

    Adorable snipped, Diana – I could here those little voices in my head!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great little snippet Diana. Children bring such a different dynamic to life. Their minds always so inquiring and fun. Lovely idea to bring them into your book 🙂 Happy writing my friend !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lynne. I enjoy kids, especially when they’re at that age when they lack filters and share their quirky view of the world. I’m so glad you enjoyed this little snippet. 🙂 Have a wonderful day. 🙂

      Like

  6. Love this, Diana! I can imagine the children, especially Thanelan on Raze’s shoulders–I remember my own kids and yes, their hands always seemed to slip down. And Chellai picking flowers. Well done. I agree, it can be tough to add kids into adult books without them being annoying or just there to be there. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Erik says:

    In The Rose Shield stories, you introduced us to the main character as a baby and let us watch her grow up. And that growing up was far from easy or, in most respects, comical. But it was a crucial decision you made there—and the right one, if you ask me. It allowed us to live her backstory rather than merely learning about it along the way; and so we felt true empathy, understood the true stakes and continued to root for her even when we doubted her decisions.

    Here, Chellai and Thanelan are included for different reasons; and within the scope of those reasons, they are also successful. The small details—like the hand creeping obliviously over Raze’s eye, and his moving it back up—are what keep it from feeling like the children are just “written in” to give information. They feel real. (And they serve as a good reminder that children are listening at all times and understand more than we give them credit for. What’s more, they aren’t encumbered by social propriety; so if you don’t want the neighbors knowing your business, don’t speak so loosely around kids.)

    Can’t wait … 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to send you an email soon, Erik! These two have small parts in the story, but they do serve a purpose. And I’m so glad their little personalities come across. Chellai is very rule-oriented, and Thanelan is definitely one of those kids who shares everyone’s dirty laundry. Ha ha. Thanks for the wonderful, thoughtful comment. And Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nice writing! I love when children are included in an adult book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jennifer. I include children when I can justify them, and I thought I could in this book. Some stories need the perspective and some characters are deepened by having families. 🙂 Have a great Sunday and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. reocochran says:

    I like children and jester humor for change of pace from drama. These two are different in personality which makes you a fine author. Having children adds a touch of humor and fragility in life, Diana. 🕊️💮

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Robin. A lovely comment and I like your mention of both humor and fragility. These two are present in the story for both. And I’m so glad you see the difference in their personalities! Yay! Have a lovely Sunday, my friend. 🙂

      Like

  10. What a fantabulous excerpt! I like the innocence of Chellai and Thanelan! A great read.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Fantastic excerpt, Diana! I can hear the “lilt” in the children’s voices, I’m imagining a bit of Irish accent although I have no clue of course exactly what accent a fictional land would have. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice. I love it that you “hear” their voices. I’m thinking that this story takes place far in the future, so it could be rural UK. Ha ha. So fun. Thanks for reading, Kathryn, and for the great comment. Enjoy the great weather!

      Like

  12. Annika Perry says:

    A heart-warming gentle exchange which perfectly captures the cadence and nuances of children’s conversation. As is often the case with children, they find themselves discussing deeper issues without even realising it. Lovely extract to share and I can see how they bring light relief into the book. Wishing you a lovely weekend, Diana! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by to read, Annika. I’m so glad you enjoyed this little snippet. These two don’t have big parts in the book, but I make them work a little. My grandson is about the age of these two, and the things that he says either make me laugh or blow my mind! Have a wonderful, Sunday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Tina Frisco says:

    Chellai and Thanelan are so endearing, Diana. I like the contrast of their sweet innocence to the story’s theme, which is something that always attracts me. ‘Lighthearted tenderness’ is the perfect descriptive ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tina. 😀 ❤ Contrasting that childlike innocence to the horrors of the adult world is part of their role in the story. In the story soul swallowing ended up being "neutral" in many ways, and subject to the choices people make. It's been a fun write and its getting close! Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. This is great – I love the example from your own work you offered here; children’s dialogue can offer a lot of important exposition details in a natural way, without coming across as heavy-handed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you noticed the work this little scene is doing. A bit of backstory, a new perspective of Raze and other characters, and a glimpse of innocence in a brutal world. Thanks for the visit and comment! Happy Writing 🙂

      Like

  15. Very important considerations here. and visa versa.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ocean Bream says:

    I love how the characters came out here, even in your short excerpt, Diana. You paint a world so vivid and beautiful, I feel like I would like to enter it for myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I like the scene of the children in the meadow with the flowers. Of course, since I work with kids, I do think they add much to life and our remembrance of times past and our hopes for the future. Likewise, I think they do much to make our invented worlds more realistic. I like this skillfully written snippet, and I know it is going to be another fabulous book! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lana. I worked for years with preschoolers and enjoy their quirky perspective. I don’t have kids in all my books, but sprinkle them in here and there when it makes sense. I’m glad you enjoyed the snippet. Happy Writing, my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. dgkaye says:

    Wonderful read Diana. You’ve done an amazing job bringing the little one’s characters to life. I am curious to know how you chose those interesting names for the kiddies? ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Antonia says:

    Kids see the world so differently. I bet it is fun to write from their perspective. I really enjoyed this Diana! I love your characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Cloud Walker says:

    Their logic always intrigues me, but children will be children even in our imagination, thanks I enjoyed it! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for visiting. My grandson is about this age and sometimes the things that he says just crack me up. The world we live in has children and I like adding them to my stories, even if in a small way. 🙂 Have a great Friday and weekend! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Erika Beebe says:

    I love children in books no matter the age. Thank you for sharing another fantastic piece 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Writing children into my manuscripts is something I haven’t really done. I have one or two very minor characters, but that is it. Ironically, I have always found it to write from the viewpoint of female characters than children.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Jay says:

    Kids can really turn things on their head – in books and in real life.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Allie P. says:

    Love it! I enjoy writing children as well. They are great for providing humor as well as insight and are just flat out fun to write. Need a reason to interrupt a scene before your main character can figure it all out? Throw in a kid with a piece of pasta stuck up their nose.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not surprised that you enjoyed these two characters, Allie. Your stories about your kids are full of wonderful humor and wisdom. Kids are so quirky and view the world without all our adult constraints and filters. Scribble scribble…interrupt scene – pasta up nose.
      Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. rijanjks says:

    Love, Love, Love this, Diana! You had me right there with these adorable children. But this: “I am the descendant of robbers and cutthroats, no doubt. But those years are long in the past, and we can decide our destinies today, can’t we?” WOW! Yes, we can. Great excerpt! .

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I’m glad you are taking the effort to include children in your story, Diana. I can’t imagine living in a 55 and older community with no children and likewise they add to the ‘world’ you’ve created. Fresh and innocent and you’ve given their voice a message without making it obvious. Very skillful writing, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for reading, Molly. I do like adding them and work hard to justify their presence in the pages. The real world is enriched by having young and old people in it and I try to add both to my writing in small ways, at least. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the glimpse. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’ve given me more to think about in terms of novel writing – to have a balance of ages in a story outside the ages of the protagonists. I’m going to pay more attention to that when reading a novel going forward. The limitation of ages is a reason I don’t think I could live in a senior citizen community. I feel younger when I’m around kids and young adults.

        Liked by 2 people

  27. I can’t do children in my stories. Too dark. My worlds are bleak horrid places not fit for kids. That and I don’t know how to write them (not being a mum myself) 😏

    Liked by 2 people

  28. An enjoyable read, Diana. Lovely write with a wonderful moral to it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Wonderful post and excerpt, Diana! ❤ How much we all have to learn about life when watching through the eyes of the child.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Your writing is always magical and mesmerizing!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I’ve never really considered the beauty of this. You have an amazing gift and feel for what makes good reading!

    Liked by 2 people

  32. I love writing children into my stories. For whatever reason, I’ve always written girls, but my current WIP has twin boys. I enjoy reading your excerpt, Diana!

    Liked by 3 people

  33. That was an entertaining and instructive read Diana. The children became real entities immediately and clearly conveyed the relationship between Lanya and ‘Mum’ and their mode of thinking; gave us a bit of insight into Raze, a glimpse of the political situation and of course a peek at the landscape of the world you have created in this book. After completing (almost) four of your books I feel confident in saying this is a good example of how you weave everything so expertly together in your writing. It seems it is done easily and naturally and just flows from your pen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! You’re such an insightful reader, Pauline. You picked up on everything I was trying to weave through this bitty scene. These little ones represent the quaint normalcy of home that gets trampled by the adults in the books, but they have to do more than that too, as you pointed out. Thanks for reading! I look forward to hearing what you think as you wrap up book 4! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  34. When written well, children are excellent additions to stories. But I can’t stand poor portrayals of any character, and kids are no exception. They’re usually way too mature or way too childhish, in a very unrealistic manner. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Very well done, Diana! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sophie. I find that often child-characters are cliched – too cute or too bratty. In real life, kids are quirky and they view things through a fresh lens without all the adult constraints and filters. I love it when an author picks up on that. I’m so glad you enjoyed this. These two don’t appear often, but they’re there. Happy Reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  35. They’re sweet and innocent but know how life works. I love the names you choose for your characters, Diana, and enjoyed reading this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Mary! I’ve never had a tough time picking names for some reason. Who knows. When I was reading your post this morning about Wade and Jake, I was thinking about how you pick the perfect cowboy names. Funny how that works. 🙂

      Like

  36. Joanne Sisco says:

    A delightful exchange 🙂
    It’s also a reminder that they are amazing little parrots!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do love little kids, Joanne. Part of Thanelan’s character is that he innocently blabs everyone’s business. Ha ha. The sweet normalcy is set up as a contrast when things go very wrong. Thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed the snippet. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  37. I hadn’t thought about how few children I have in my stories, especially playing a pivotal role. The way you describe children in your stories–I apply that to dogs. Hmm… I need to think on this.

    Having said that, lovely story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, dogs work in the same way! Except for the talking part. Ha ha. I don’t give kids much air time, Jacqui, but they are sprinkled here and there throughout. And I do try to have them fill multiple story needs, just like any other character. Thanks for reading and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  38. Jennie says:

    This was delightful, Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Mae Clair says:

    That was quite entertaining. I loved the dialogue.
    I’ve used children in a number of my books, teens, too. One or two has even had a starring role. They do indeed add a different perspective.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for the visit and comment, Mae. I sometimes wonder if I really need them, but I figure if each tiny scene accomplishes at least three goals, then I can justify it. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and good for you for including kids as well! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  40. robbiecheadle says:

    A lovely extract, Diana. I always enjoy reading about children. It definitely does bring a different angle and tone to a book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Robbie. I sometimes wonder if I should just cut the kids from my books since they aren’t 100% necessary. But I do like what they add in terms of tone and contrast. I’m so glad you enjoyed the snippet! Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

  41. Oh yes, their perspective is so helpful and sweet in this excerpt. They can ask and contemplate things for the reader without it sounding ‘as you know, Bob.’ Nicely done! BTW, did you hear CBIC3 in Olympia is cancelled. At least you won’t feel you’re missing out on it now. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  42. Carrie Rubin says:

    Children add depth and often humor to a book. Chellai and Thanelan sound delightful!

    Liked by 3 people

  43. balroop2013 says:

    Children do add a charm to any story as their innocent babble could give a comic break, just like Greek tragedies though modern stories have diluted those breaks and go on and on about their dark details.
    I love Chellai and Thanelan. Thanks for sharing this excerpt Diana.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. It’s a charming interlude, Diana. Every story needs moments where we can catch our breath. I loved “Raze adjusted the small hands edging over his eyes.” You always make me see every word. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. The V Pub says:

    When I think of children in stories or movies, I think of Wesley Crusher in Star Trek, or more recently Carl in the Walking Dead. In both cases, I couldn’t stand the characters and were happy when they left their respective series. I think that it’s a hard task to integrate children into adult stories. But, if used properly, they can bring humanity to the adult characters.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wesley Crusher annoyed me, too! Ha! But I did like Carl – more so as he started growing up. And I thought they handled his (spoiler alert!) death well. I agree, though, that adding kids to adult books or movies has to be carefully done as they are often so cliched. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 2 people

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