Delving into a Character: Demetra Ashdown

Ah, how to describe Demetra Ashdown, main character in The Aetheric Artifacts trilogy?

Having her heart broken when she was a teenager made her close it off to everyone else, and it's turned her into a bit of an emotional automaton. Before we meet her in The Chronos Clock, she is actually a much more happy, reckless, and free-spirited young lady. We see a little bit of this in the short story, The Gilded Gun, when she touches something she knows will harm her, just for the sake of understanding it better.

Original inspiration for Demetra's look...

And that's really Demetra's primary trait - curiosity. She wants to know who, what, when, where, why, and how. Especially the why. She's passionate about knowing what it is that makes humans act the way they do, not to mention her scientific inquisitiveness.

It's sad to me that Demetra is so closed off from feeling at first, that her entire life appears to revolve around being rational and organized. Her decisions seem at odds with this, because she does such irrational things that she actually puts herself in dangerous situations.

But this is because the logical, must-always-have-a-plan Demetra is just a facade. It's hard for her to reconcile her broken heart with the person she once was, so we see two very different "Demetras" fighting - the one who wants to keep things purely academic and the one who barrels headlong into danger with a snarky quip. Her heart has hardened to the point that what ought to be sweet impertinence borders on pure malice at times.

She's a fierce fighter, but not a strong or skilled one, which means she needs physically strong people around her. However, Demetra pushes people away when all they want to do is get close to her. It doesn't help that her mother abandoned her at birth and her father was a loving, but absent-minded parent. Still, Demetra received a fascinating education thanks to her inventor father and Simon's apothecary grandfather, and she grew up with a very cheerful nature that we just don't see in the original novels.

All that said and broken heart aside, Demetra could be a great deal happier if she just accepted that Francis loves her and truly opened herself to giving him the second chance he craves. Although she has accepted his proposal and acquiesced to a wedding date in The Daemon Device and The Enigma Engine, she's still hesitant to fully trust him or just be herself.

After all, he ended their engagement once before, a decision based on the fact that he simply couldn't handle the headstrong, relentlessly inquisitive Demetra. So she's just waiting for him to do it again. Humor is her defense mechanism, but her little act is getting old fast.

One might wonder, will the fact that Francis discovered he is an Aetheral as well make him more accepting of Demetra's curious and forward nature?

I think this is what I'm enjoying most about writing The Aetheric Enclave trilogy now: seeing Demetra grow, let go of her need to control everything around her, and instead return to looking at the world around her with wonder. She receives a harsh lesson in the first book of this new trilogy, but it's a good lesson for her to learn.