When I first created the Compact Universe, I had no idea Tishla even existed. Of course, I had no idea who, or what, Marcus Leitman was. Tol Germanicus, the mysterious mover and shaker who may or may not be an AI, didn’t even exist. Then I hit on the idea of writing three novellas to precede each Amargosa Trilogy novel. And I wanted the first to be from the alien point of view.
In terms of character, Tishla is the mother of all Gelt. I viewed her as kind of a Dany character as Game of Thrones was huge at the time. (That show totally did not influence the creation of height-challenged Peter Lancaster. Totally didn’t.) Her circumstance and her biology allowed me to create the Gelt species and society.
She is bonded to her childhood best friend as a concubine in exchange for her education as a geneticist. Her culture is a somewhat feudal one despite spanning large swaths of space. And she and Kai existed as red herrings. As The Roots of War was originally written, you weren’t supposed to know they were not human until a bedroom scene where Kai does not do what human males generally do to their partners for mutual pleasure. Nor does Tishla take her pleasure where human females take theirs.
“Wait. So the guy with the root vegetable is… human?”
Yep. The alien is descended from hunter-gatherers who first appeared in the savannahs of Kenya, hunted woolly mammoths, and nearly destroyed themselves believing every conspiracy theory they found on YouTube during a great plague.
That was why I wrote The Roots of War.
But, let’s be honest, I didn’t do a very good job of it. The POVs shift. First, it’s Kai whose head we leave in, then Tishla’s, and finally, Laral Jorl’s. I tried to fix some of this in a later novella, Tishla, but as time went on, it occurred to me the entire story should be Tishla. And it should not end with her leaving for Amargosa to go after the man who murdered her husband and her son. She first appears in the Amargosa novels in Second Wave. While a couple of scenes in that book are written from her point of view, they’re few and far between. So I rewrote some of scenes where she appears, including a flashback from a yet-to-be-published Suicide Arc novel, from her perspective. Then I added scenes from Storming, including that scene, the one a couple of readers suggested I should probably have saved for later. (Hey! The chapter kept coming in at 19,000 words. You try writing while two of your characters hold your head hostage!)
Then I gave Storming the coda it couldn’t have written from JT and Davra’s points of view. (And Leitman’s. And Farad’s. And later, Ellie’s.) I especially loved the scenes at the end with her daughter, who doesn’t get nearly enough attention in any of the books featuring these characters.
Overall, Tishla’s Journey fixes a problem I created spreading Tishla’s story too thin. This is about someone who goes from nothing, a slave in a benign system of bondage*, to a reluctant player on the interstellar stage.
*Still bondage, and one of the first things she bans when she’s made leader of Hanar.