When I reached the half way point in the novel, it was obvious that a character from Whitney (Jo-Laina's) past was necessary. At first, I thought it should be Jo-Viel, because next to Jo-Laina's sister, she was next in the chain of command, but I quickly realized that was exactly the reason why she couldn't be a part of this story. She would be too valuable in the fight on Bolimar. Jo-Karna was next and in Bolimar, she is submissive to her sister, and I couldn't help but ask myself if she would remain that way without her sister around.
The answer was no. I didn't dictate that answer. I let Jo-Karna tell me who she wanted to be without her sister's shadow looming over her. Jo-Karna continually surprised me throughout the writing of A Prim and a Prophet and I hope she does the same for readers. Here is an example of her and who she turned out to be.
<"And you have to quit calling us Jo-Laina and Argimos. Our names are Whitney and Tommy."
"No," Jo-Karna said standing up from her seat. "Those names are not fit for either of you. You are Jo-Laina and Argimos. Those are your true names. You," she added pointing at Whitney, "are the Baran-Dak-Toi. You are the only person in thousands of years who could rejoin the factions of Messolin into one united society again. You," she emphasized again, "have kept the people of our city from falling victim to the Shooktah, the very race of warriors who will end up in this world, and it is you, Jo-Laina who will prevent devastation. And then there is you, Argimos. You were the one who was able to escape the Shooktah when the rest of the Prectock were killed. You were the one who crossed the vast desert on Bolimar to find Jo-Laina, test her, and help her acquire the Pockets of the Prim. You were the one who inspired enough awe in the minds of the people, making them forget their bias against the Baran-Dak-Toi showing them that you could do so yourself! And it was you who has stood by the Baran-Dak-Toi, when others disagreed with her methods of fighting against the Shooktah. Together you two can accomplish much, but not as Tommy and Whitney. You must accept who you really are! And you will never hear me call to you with those names."
Whitney stood up, facing Jo-Karna directly. "Not even if I command it?"
Jo-Karna got onto her knees before Whitney, lowering her head, giving Whitney a familiar sense of that very scene, and presented the back of her neck to Whitney.
"Draw your swords and take my life if you must, but no. Not even if you command it.">
Out of all of the characters I've ever written, Jo-Karna is, by far, one of my favorites. In some ways, I would go as far as to say that I like her even better than I like Whitney. I love her blunt way of saying things. This woman pulls no punches and she can be ferocious, yet she has a tendency to show a feminine side and an ability to submit when the situation calls for it. I'm not alone in my fondness for her, and my editor & my favorite scene is when they go to the mall. My editor Doug agrees on many points, saying this about her...:
In Quest For the Prim Pockets she was kind of reserved, but in Prim and a Prophet she really shows her character.
I was in stitches when she was went to the mall & shoe store.
When she dressed up, she was all woman!
Without Jo-Karna's help, Whitney would have taken MUCH longer to get ready for Bolimar, and she might have never gotten out of the bunker without harming anyone.
Jo-Laina is going to have problems getting back from Bolimar. I hope she can help Jo-Karna, too.