P is for Pradesh. My demon hunting trio in Soldiers of the Sun & The Darkest Midnight in December originated in the UK. Caleb from Wales, Temple who had run away from Paris to London and Agni Pradesh who ended up in London by way of Bombay. They were then sent to fill out the ranks in Pittsburgh’s Sun headquarters after a demon uprising decimated them.
I wanted a little cultural diversity in this story and considered, for better or worse, England’s colonial ties to India. I’ve always had a fascination with Hinduism so Pradesh was born. What I absolutely didn’t want was him to be subservient to his two White partners in any way. Agni isn’t the leader (that would be Caleb) but the Pradesh family is a well-known, well honored group of demon hunters stretching back generations on par with Temple’s family who had been Knights Templar (demon hunters as well in this universe) since before they were officially an organization.
Agni is the quiet level headed studious one of the bunch but of course this leaves me being cautious not to tread too close to the ‘inscrutable Asian’ stereotype. Agni is open and honest about his feelings but on the other hand, feels he needs to be the anchor for the group. Temple is certainly not up to that task (and definitely needs anchoring). He shoulders burdens to allow Caleb, whom he has loved since the beginning of their partnership, to lead without as many worries.
Agni does try to hold on to as much of his culture as he can, which isn’t easy in 1930s America. His apartment is his refuge, decorated as closely to the average household in Bombay as he could manage. He struggles more with food but since the Soldiers of the Sun pull from peoples worldwide they try to help them feel comfortable by supplying things like ethnic food items as much as they can. Agni is unashamedly Hindu and his gods are prominently displayed in his apartment including the god he was named for.
Of course, this is 1930s America and Agni’s dark skin and accent (more the skin tone) can be a problem. This does crop up in the stories, especially in Soldiers of the Sun and the high end exclusive clubs they have to investigate don’t want to allow him entrance. I didn’t want it to be a huge part of the narrative but I didn’t want to simply pretend it wasn’t there. Yes, this is a different universe but I kept it as close to our world as I could. Prejudice was a huge issue in the 1930s obviously and I had to address that.
He faces another issue, being gay in the 1930s. Their leader General Taglioferro knows they’re gay. He knows Caleb and Agni are lovers. He probably even knows they’ve invited Temple into their bed as well. So long as it doesn’t interfere with their combat skills, he doesn’t care. He even considers the fact they might fight harder to save each other because they’re in love. Their homosexuality isn’t well known within the organization in general, however and Temple is a known womanizer (more about him at another time) and probably distracts attention from Agni and Caleb.
Agni might be a studious taciturn bookworm in public but behind closed doors he’s happy to remind everyone that Indians actually did write the book on lovemaking. He had been uncertain about bringing Temple into the relationship as they are polar opposites but was pleasantly surprised to find how compatible they were in bed.
Agni also gets to use the coolest weapons, preferring chakrams as his weapon (If you’re unfamiliar with them, think the metal discs Xena Warrior Princess used). Technically they’re Sikh weapons, not Hindu but in a world where you’re fighting demons, you learn to use every weapon you can get your hands on.
Agni is a fun character but hard to write. I hope I did him justice.
You can find his stories here. (Yes they’re in a series but they can be read as stand alones because hey 1930s demon hunters, right?).
Soldiers of the Sun. (novel)
The Darkest Midnight in December. (novella)
Snowbound. (short story)
And here’s some fan art done by one of my friends, Kira. Isn’t it cool?