For the past couple Christian Fiction Friday posts, I've talked about this recurring character that shows up in a lot of my novels. I'm not talking about someone like the mysterious red-haired journalist who keeps popping in (who IS he, by the way?!). I'm talking about the same character type that seems to show up no matter what I'm writing.
She's always smart, worldly, a full of life, and she always is the roommate of a tamer, more introverted main character.
A few weeks ago, I introduced you to Willow, Kennedy's everyone-learns-to-love-her-in-spite-of-her-weird-hair-styles roommate in the Kennedy Stern series. Last week, you met Mee-Kyong, the feisty, street-smart North Korean inmate from The Beloved Daughter.
Today, I'm sharing a snippet about Chun-Hee. Never heard of her? That's probably because she belongs to my Agent Ko spy thriller series, which is published under a slightly different name since the characters are grittier and the story lines more intense than an Alana Terry Christian fiction novel.
But ... surprisingly or not ... Agent Ko finds herself indebted to a roommate who's like Willow with black hair or Mee-Kyong outside of a North Korean prison camp.
“Brothers or sisters?”
It was a question that always made Ko’s palms itch with discomfort. “A little brother.” She nibbled on the tip of her pinky. “He died.”
“Hmmm …” Chun-Hee reached her hand behind her neck and grabbed her elbow in some sort of awkward-looking stretch. “I hope they don’t count that against you.”
Ko gave a questioning look.
“The Party has formulas for everything.” Chun-Hee clenched her hands behind her back and raised her fists a full foot off the floor. “Computers and mathematicians to calculate who’s going to be the most successful. They don’t want to risk sending someone out into the field who wouldn’t be able to kill on command.” She shrugged. “If they think watching your little brother die might have made you soft, it could mark you down.”
Ko blinked, and an image of little Woong’s chubby cheeks flashed uninvited through her mind.
“So where you from?” Chun-Hee didn’t look at Ko but stretched her other hand behind her head. Ko glanced at her roommate’s fingers, thin, bony ones covered by smooth olive skin.
“Osang.” Ko picked at her nail. “Then they relocated us to Pyongyang.”
“Oh?” Chun-Hee raised a questioning eyebrow. “How’d you guys manage that?”
Ko’s stomach sank toward her tailbone. The story was not worth retelling. “The Party wanted to honor my father after the flood.”
“What, your dad save a little old lady from drowning or something? Rescue some Party official’s cat?”
“No,” Ko answered. “Nothing like that.”
“Well, if I were you I’d just say I was from Pyongyang,” Chun-Hee advised.
Ko didn’t answer. Her mind was back in Osang, her ears pulsing with the echoes of little Woong’s terrified screams.
Chun-Hee stretched out both legs so they straddled the floor in a perfect line. She swooped gracefully to the side, wrapped one elegant finger around her big toe, and brought her nose down toward her knee. Ko’s eyelids drooped with heaviness. She glanced around the room.
“No beds here,” Chun-Hee said. “No blankets either. But I say if you can manage to get some sleep, you should. They brought in at least four other new recruits today.”
Ko eyed the empty corners of the room, wondering if one would hold more chance of privacy than another. “How many of us are there here?” she asked.
Chun-Hee slid her legs out of their impossible stretch and got on her hands and knees. With a loud inhale, she left her palms flat on the ground, straightened her legs, and lifted up until her body formed a perfect triangle with the floor.
“Number changes all the time.” Chun-Hee spoke as easily as if she were reclining on a couch or standing in a line. “They just got rid of seven or eight after the last round of testing. I assume that’s why you and the others are here.”
Ko didn’t know how she felt about being a replacement. So Ryuk had found others first, others who had looked more promising? Maybe the Party didn’t have as much faith in her as she thought.
“Anyway,” Chun-Hee continued without any indication that she planned to move out of her inverted position, “Ryuk will give you all his famous pep talk sometime tomorrow I’m sure. Anyone who’s still in the program after breakfast will go on to meet the director.”
What do you think? Have you read enough Alana Terry novels to come up with any other recurring characters? Did you notice the similarities before between these three roommates?
If you're looking for a new read, here are the books where you will first meet Willow, Mee-Kyong, and Chun-Hee respectively. (Please bear in mind that the Agent Ko series is meant for a secular audience and is not listed as Christian fiction. This blog post explains exactly what that means and why I published a mainstream thriller.)