Karin Dolor didn’t exist in the novel. When I was preparing for the web series reboot, I had an idea for the character that was sort of spawned from my friendship with Amanda Lee. I knew I wanted to expand on the Genesis Global Intern project and the company as a whole, that’s why Grace Cooper was created and Mike Aquilis was prepped for more growth. But the other aspect that I knew needed a revision from the first Act from the book was the Alliance Entrance Exam. That was the reason Karin was created.
In the book, the exam was pretty straight forward. If anyone has played an Armored Core game, usually the first one in the numbered series, AC 1, AC 2, AC 3, etc, then you’d know that before you start the actual game, you’re thrown into a test to measure your capabilities as a pilot. That is where the concept for the exam came from. A simple test that would analyze a pilot’s ability to handle pressure. In the book, the exam was basic and I didn’t expand on it in any form. Adam arrived, took the test, the other participants turned on him and then the Irregular showed up and screwed everything up.
The concept of an assigned “manager” for the pilot taking the exam was vaguely established. Veronica Laboro was the character given the task to bring Adam to the exam. Veronica, being Stephen’s Operator in the Alliance was sort of a way to connect Adam to his brother. Ultimately, Veronica wasn’t used well in the book and she sort of disappeared without much explanation by the time the focus went back to Earth. I didn’t want to do that this time. I wanted to flesh her out more. She needed a back story, and with Karin being a new character, I decided to connect the two together in tragedy. Karin, unintentionally has become one of my favorite characters in the series to write. Giving her a rich backstory in tragedy, something that she caused, made her far more intriguing to me.
Because of her actions in the Alliance as a pilot, a lot of her friends had been killed, but through her actions, Stephen Novus rose to prominence due to the feats he performed during the event. Karin has been forever tied to both Stephen and his operator Veronica. Stephen was relegated to playing coy and simply doing his job with efficiency while Karin was loud, brash and arrogant. When Karin’s decisions forced Stephen into the light, it effectively placed him in a better position to follow his agenda, something he has always kept close to his chest in secrecy. After the incident, Karin was relieved of her piloting duties and a rift between Stephen/Veronica and Karin was established.
It was the perfect opportunity to pair this character with Adam due to the symbolic nature her past and growth as a person presented. A washed out pilot with regret over her decisions, but still brash, loud and arrogant as a means to hide the pain is put in charge of an upcoming pilot who is also full of regret and brash. It was something I didn’t have in the book, I always had Adam going throughout his journey just butting heads with Stephen, never really having anyone who could truly relate to his pain. Sharon Amare sort of filled that gap, but she never went through what he did and couldn’t relate to the struggles of being a pilot for the Alliance and what that meant. She always was more of a support system and a representation of the life he used to know. With Karin, I was now able to add a new dynamic to Adam’s journey. She also doesn’t agree with Stephen most of the time and gives a different approach to Adam’s healing.
Karin’s own trauma and how she allowed it to consume her life ultimately affects how she works with Adam as his operator. Where Stephen wants Adam to control his anger and suppress it, Karin wants him to release it to prevent internal damage. This added to her rocky relationship with both Stephen and Veronica adds a tension that was never present in the book. It also expands on the concept of the “Operator”.
An “Operator” for a pilot acts as their constant stream of information. They are the ones who can see the full picture of a mission scenario and give the pilot insight and strategies in how to proceed effectively. Veronica has often been viewed as the most proficient Operator in the Alliance and covers all of Stephen Novus’ team except for Adam. Operators were usually assigned to a team, making Karin’s situation all the more unusual. She was given direct control over Adam Novus’ supervision from the higher ups.
The reason for this is simple. I wanted Adam and Karin to have a symbiotic relationship. She helps Adam learn to control his anger and frustrations, to forgive himself, while she unknowingly ends up healing her own scares in the process. It’s a really fun dynamic that I’ve been enjoying writing. Plus her banter and quick to rage tendencies are extremely amusing to write.
This is basically where Amanda Lee’s influence on the character comes in. I’ve known Amanda for a while, she’s a terrific actress, extremely energetic, great personality and really good at rage haha. I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go with Karin, but her personality wasn’t completely filled out at the time. Later in the series, I have a character, Ashley Belellus who joins the main group and her sarcasm, light hearted bluntness was an added depth to the cast that I always enjoyed. But in the first book that aspect was missing, so I decided to give that trait to Karin. That with Amanda’s personality just struck me as gold. When Amanda was down to take the role, that is when Karin was born.
Karin’s relationships with other characters make for high entertainment value. She’s always viewed Stephen as a rival, hated Veronica because of the proverbial stick stuck up her ass, sees a lot of herself in Adam and while only being a year older than him, often feels like its her responsibility to keep him from screwing up like she did.
In creating Karin, Veronica Laboro also was expanded as a character. I mentioned that in the book she sort of just “went away” after the transition back to Earth. I don’t remember why I wrote her out without much explanation, it’s probably because I didn’t give her any personality or depth as a character.
I wanted to change that so I tied her history with Karin’s. She’s loyal to Stephen and his agenda and prefers to keep attention diverted from what it is they’re doing. She puts up a massive front in the form of pretentiousness, but underneath this layer, she’s quite the opposite. She’s a massive flirt when drunk as it’s really the only time her inhibitions are put aside. There are times where her and Stephen are back from a sortie and he’s subjected to this other side of hers. Going back to the concept of diversity in media, I had no real plans for Veronica and as such I had a lot of room to play around with her. When my friend, Jessi Nowack took the role, I felt like changing up the character a bit by making her bi. Veronica originally had a boyfriend that was killed and that was what brought her to the Alliance. Not in a revenge sort of way, but in a way that she took an opportunity presented to her. She was attending a college that focused on developing strategists for the Alliance, something she enrolled in on a whim. During an attack, her instincts kicked in and she took over for the Alliance soldiers in the control room that were killed. A General noticed her talent as her quick thinking and analysis of the situation prevented further death by pushing back the advancing forces. On the spot, she was taken in by the General and placed as Stephen Novus’ operator.
I decided to make her bi because of my own expanding friendships with people in the LBGT community. Since characters always took on some traits of friends, I felt this was no different and with a character I never really expanded on in the book, it was the perfect opportunity to do so now. Her sexuality isn’t something thrown around as sort of a “look at me, I’m diverse”, it’s rather subtle and it’s only been on display during a minisode where Veronica gets drunk. It’s a really fun scene and Jessi can pull off the awkward drunk behavior perfectly.
So now Veronica is a real character and has more personality. I knew I needed to do more. With Karin’s arrogance leading to tragedy, I decided to use the events to deepen Veronica. Veronica having gone through a similar situation years prior would have a much more personal reaction to seeing something that could have been avoided, implode. Knowing that she has to keep a low profile, Veronica is constantly forced to keep her emotions in check and following the rules even when her gut instinct tells her otherwise. She always saw potential in Karin and prior to the incident, trusted her. Wanting to work her into her plan with Stephen, she always tried to control Karin’s unstable temperament. It was something she was willing to do until everything went wrong in the worst possible way.
Following the incident, Veronica viewed Karin as a disappointment, someone who didn’t care about anyone other than herself and as such began to distance herself. When in the present timeline Karin is assigned to Adam, Veronica has no choice but to interact with her.
I’ve only been able to show subtle instances of their disdain for one another, but even in those, they’re some of my favorite scenes. Most notably is from Episode 5 “The Howls of Despair”.
Their issues were foreshadowed previously, in Episode 3 when Veronica informs Stephen of Karin being assigned to his brother. Then in Episode 4 when Karin acknowledges that her and Stephen aren’t on good terms.
But Episode 5 is the best when the two are on screen for the first time.
Ultimately, the main thing I’ve learned from going to animation is the concept of expanding characters to make them better than they were. Adding characters to the story that can help flesh out other aspects of the world, giving new perspectives to situations and building far more interesting personalities.
By creating Karin, I’ve been able to deepen the conflict and journey Adam Novus is goes through, give Veronica a much bigger role in the series and flesh out her personality, and better detail just what an “Operator” does.
Karin ends up becoming a bridge for Adam when it comes to connecting the world he’s come to live in after the Exam and Amy’s death, and the world he once knew before everything changed. All of this becomes possible through her friendship with Sharon Amare. In the book, while Sharon already knew about the war that the rest of the country wasn’t aware of, she always had some direct contact with Adam. It felt sort of rushed and not really explained well. While she has some form of clearance because of her job in Genesis Global, I never went into it that much.
With Karin and the animated series though, I’m able to use Karin as a way to bride the two of them. Karin and Sharon form a friendship over time. The two become extremely close, sort of like sisters. Karin immediately recognizes Sharon as someone who was not only a part of Adam’s life before his innocence was lost, but as someone who could continue living in his new life. The problem for Adam was that all of the friends he met during his Internship with Genesis, not including Amy Caecus, were not aware of a war. Once Adam crossed that line, he could no longer relate to those closest to him. Karin, knowing full well how that feels and just what it can do to a person, made sure to keep Sharon around. Sharon, through her father’s position was privy to the real world, like Amy. I’ll have a write up explaining Amy and Sharon and their differences, but for this one right now, I’ll keep it short. Karin was impressed with how Sharon was able to handle herself, basically living in two worlds. Taking care of Alliance Frames and their upgrades while also working alongside the Intern class and having to smile under the guise of a normal life.
Karin comes to this realization after the exam when she sees Adam and Sharon interacting at Genesis Global. It’s why she invites Sharon to participate in their “send off” event. This is Minisode 4. A day of volleyball and competitive fun. Something Karin and Stephen came up with to try and help Adam deal with the death of Amy Caecus. Her actions prove successful as she sees Adam smiling and seemingly more at ease with Sharon around. She comes to respect Sharon, seeing her as one of the strongest people she’s ever met. Without realizing it, she is able to relate more with Sharon and find a friendship she never expected. Once again, Karin ends up helping herself heal through trying to help Adam.
Karin Dolor ended up becoming a prominent main character in the series. Something I never intended to happen. She just did upon writing her and seeing how well she flowed into the story and the characters within it.