I’m going to do this with no spoilers…
The name: I have a friend called Sam Butcheart, and I thought wow, that is a great name for a protagonist. It’s strong and simple. When I write I always name the character Sam Butcheart, and sometimes a different name will come along.
Sam’s character: He is innocent in the ways of the world, and yet he is also quite skilled as a peasant famer would need to be. He knows how to track, hunt, and trap because otherwise he would starve. Right from the first chapter he is torn with moral dilemmas. We see him struggling to figure out what is the right thing to do, and never really questioning whether or not he should do the right thing once he has figured out what it is.
I wrote the first chapter last because I felt we needed to know Sam better before we embarked on our journey with him. We had to see him struggle with the ordinary world. When I dreamed his story it began with the sound of hooves in the night, the straw bedding, the warmth of his siblings beside him. The sudden danger heralding the call of adventure.
When I was a child I got stitches a LOT. I remember in the end the casual nature I took to pain and to the destruction of my body. When my knee cartilage was being removed I asked if I could watch as they operated and I was fascinated by it. I give this quality to Sam so he can cope with his extensive injuries. There is a difference between pain and suffering. This is reflected in Sam’s attitude to pain.
Sam is only 13 at the start of the story, and he is malnourished and small for his age. The farm is not a wealthy one and there are a lot of mouths to feed. Sam’s father, Tom, relies on Sam to help him build the farm, so that hungry winters will be just a memory. Tom is a good father. The family all love each other and each express it in their own way.