Xartus has been in my head for a long, long time. In fact, he was a large part of the inspiration for the novel and the series. He’s one of the few characters who isn’t drawn from a handful of video game characters so much as he is based on a departure from that ever-present RPG standard of the “healer” class. Sure, you’ve got your armored clerics and your warrior-monks, but there is lots of room for a departure from the straightforward heal/buff support class they get relegated to.
I think two of my biggest early influences on Xartus were Nynaeve from Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” series (which I stopped reading around book seven when it became clear to me that the man was going to die before we saw the series come to a conclusion), and Katara or Aang from Avatar: the Last Airbender. These were people who were not only compelled by their desire to heal, but were also driven by a warrior spirit. In Xartus I saw this punk-rock, tattooed, dyed-hair, coarse person who still maintained an authentic and devout connection to his faith in the healing arts. In the time since I began writing about Xartus, I was pleased to discover that Xartus had a bit of a soul sister in the real world in the form of the “Pastrix,” Nadia Bolz-Weber.
It was important for me that Xartus was male because of the way that “white mages” were so synonymous with women or girls in art and portrayal, with the occasional boyish incarnation with nary a whisker or arm-hair to be found. There’s been a great deal of improvement on the front of acknowledging the dedication and talents of male nurses, but there’s still a long way to go from what I’ve seen and heard.
Throughout Double Jump, Xartus’ abilities are hampered or enhanced by his robes, and it’s a balance I’m still discerning as I write–the exact nature of how much of Xartus’ power is his, and how much comes from the robes he wears. It’s something I’m looking forward to exploring as I move ahead, especially as the next novel begins to address the notion of how items/weapons/armor are created within the lattice.