Origins: Jackie Veracruz
Jacqueline Sofia Veracruz has gone through some of the most extensive changes of any character in Tall Tales. Originally a one-shot character, the reader was going to meet her in a story arc that involved Matteson investigating some strange behavior from the Loch Ness Monster. It was planned that she would be someone Matteson had known for a long time, but had moved to Scotland some time before the overall story started and was therefore largely a part of Matteson's past.
It is worth remembering that, in its original form, Tall Tales was a much more narrow story, telling the events of about four years of Matteson's life in his mid-to-late-forties. The character that became Jackie, who I think was actually named Samantha at the time, would have met Matteson in the events that are now the Born of Water arc, which I was debating referencing in flashbacks. It would have been known that Matteson and Samantha remained in contact and occasionally helped each other out, but had grown distant when she left the country and his career took off.
When it was decided that the story was going to be much larger, I realized I should actually allow Samantha to become a full character who would be active throughout, and began to seriously consider the idea that she doesn't entirely leave the story at any point. This latter concern was especially noted when I found the Loch Ness story may not even fit the larger plot anymore. I also forgot her name and had to come up with a new one (I only remember it now because I've found some of my old notes). Of course, this meant fleshing out her personality more, and I ended up borrowing a bit from real sources.
This sort of thing happens throughout Tall Tales. There are a small handful of stories which are actually based on real events, to some degree or another. Every one is significantly fictionalized, and reformatted to fit the larger story which is entirely fiction, but there are traces of personal experiences and therefore traces of real people I encountered along the way. In "Born of Water," Jackie is largely filling the role of a young woman I met in Chicago named Barbie, who I never spoke to again after I returned home. Occasionally she will borrow influence from Nicki White or Jen Dietz, witches I knew from high school and art school, respectively. But the bulk of her personality, and her involvement in most stories, are only true of her. All three of these sources, however, are white, and originally so was Samantha.
One thing I wanted to do was make her not Wiccan, which Samantha had been. There were a couple reasons for this, one being that if I specifically named a tradition I would have to be very careful to represent that tradition accurately, and I needed more freedom than that to fit the story. Also, frankly, I wanted something different, something I don't see much of in media. It seems like every witch I come across in fiction is either Wiccan or vaguely European, so I looked for other sources. Brujah ended up catching my attention, as what I found of it suggested that it fit pretty well the character that I was planning. But again, I needed the flexibility to go outside that tradition, and wanted to avoid misrepresenting something I really don't understand, so I went beyond that and started looking at other Central American folk magic traditions.
In the end, I decided that she would be using some unstated amalgam of these traditions, with a splash of influence from her mentor who I already knew was Anatolian. But hey, if she's going to be using that, why should she be white? It made more sense to me that she would have picked up these traditions from her family, so I went ahead and made her Latina. Thankfully, her story is about her exploration of magic and not a "this is what life is like as a Latina," so I can fairly easily avoid acting like I know what their experiences are actually like. There is research involved in how I have her handle things, of course, and her personality has been colored by the Latin women I've known, but I do not claim to be able to tell their stories their way and Jackie's blog is not designed to be read as though I'm trying to do that.
There's more I want to say about Jackie, but some of it should probably wait until the story develops a bit more and you see more of her.
What is this?
Worldbuilding Wednesdays is a real-world blog, written by Tim McLaughlin, that gives a little peek behind the curtain of Tall Tales. That includes the process of creating the story and world, influences, world rules, and even the occasional story.