It’s impossible to sort out my thoughts about Gaia from my feelings about her to write anything objective on her as a character. I thought I could do a profile about her, but that feels too detached, too clinical. It involves seeing her from the outside like a reporter, which I can’t do because I only know her from the inside out. I thought of doing an interview with her. After all, I once asked Chardo Will a few questions while he was working on his barn, but even Will soon withdrew from me, and Gaia would never play. Neither would Leon.
Here’s what I do know. To get into Gaia, I look up away from my computer, gaze vacantly out my window, and let the feeling of her come into my body. It’s natural to start with her in her parents’ little home, with wood smoke and firelight and the danger of a guard who has invaded her familiar space. That’s where she first came in conflict with the forces of the Enclave, although her first inner doubts had started before then. Gaia awakens in me fully at the moment when Sgt. Grey searches her midwifery satchel, taking every item out and inspecting each seam until there is no thread left unexamined.
It seems so horrible to me now. The incident passes without violence, but it’s an absolute violation and a clear demonstration of power. Sgt. Grey, as an agent of the Enclave, has every legal right to enter Gaia’s home, take her parents, throw wood on her fire, pick through her personal effects, and interrogate her alone. That he does so politely only emphasizes that both of them, midwife and guard, completely accept the power structure they’ve been born into. Gaia’s wariness, resentment, trust, fear, and sharp intelligence all surface during their exchange, and from deep in the corner, I feel my own determination rise. I will beat this. I will not give in.
Back then, Gaia’s troubles were only beginning. Taking this girl through three books has been intense. Her raw, inherent potential was always there, but I had to discover how it would surface when Gaia was faced with different challenges and losses. I like that she’s not perfect. She’s not always right or always strong. She’s impulsive and loses her temper. But she’s also fair and lonely and quick to learn. She craves belonging, and wants to do the right thing. She’s honestly slow to commit where she loves, and she’s torn by conflicting responsibilities.
She’s real to me. Yes.
It’s been good knowing her.