In the continuing celebrations for the release of my new book, Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen, I am introducing a new character each week. You can go back to earlier posts to meet Timmons Thunderclaws, Tuttleferd T. Thistle Toe, Paipo Plumpuddle, and Charla Charmsong.
This week’s character is my favourite of all the new ones: Shuuunga the Unger Witch.
Who she is:
Shuuunga is an Unger witch who has risen to power in the Unger nation to lead them in the wars against the other monster tribes. By the events in The Search for Arazeen, Shuuunga has defeated the other tribes and incited them to attack a new enemy: Kendra Kandlestar’s home, the Land of Een.
Even though Shuuunga is mentioned for the first time in this book, her personal story is strongly connected to characters and events in the previous books. For example, she studied in secret with the Unger wizard Oroook.
Where she came from:
Shuuunga represents one of those characters that arrived into my imagination via my pencil. I was not entirely sure who would be the villainous leader of the monster army in early outlines for The Search for Arazeen. But one day, while brainstorming in my sketchbook, the idea, name, and visual appearance for the character began to take shape:
If you look closely, you will see that I had started concocting names for the character, including Oonga, Soonga, and Shuagaaala. The above sketch didn’t really capture my imagination, however. I think at this point of the story, I thought the witch might not be very significant in terms of the plot. But the sketch below changed everything:
As soon as I had drawn this version of the witch, I knew she would be instrumental to the events and storyline in the book. She jumped off the page and into my plot and began to take over everything.
Below are some further sketches of Unger culture. In earlier books in the series, I had already taken readers to the monster temple in the Green Wastes known as the Door to Unger, but this time I wanted to show what Unger life was like during a time of war.
Inspired by the nature of the Unger witch, I began designing many aspects of Unger war culture, including weapons, tattoos, and drums . . .
Finally, here are a few of the final illustrations for Shuuunga (and her lair) that appear in the book.