This is actually a fairly large body of characters spread across the two volumes of Star Master, even if they didn’t require as much work on my part as Shenti and her family did.
The basic idea of Lanati – Princess Leia but more diplomatic, Padme Amidala but less naive – was present from the very early stages of development. There might be a little bit of Daisy Ridley’s Rey in her bright-eyed determination, but Lanati’s upbringing is more similar to Padme’s and her daughter’s. Something very much like her existed before I wrote Shadow Captain, in the failed “Space Sanjuro” project. Her signature weapon is inspired by the naginata used by women of the samurai class, and her patience with the people around her is a trait I wish I had when I was riding herd on my younger siblings growing up. She’s a lot like the heroines in my Jaiya novels, especially Rina (Marrying a Monster) and Vanti (Slaying a Tyrant). Fundamentally, she’s a decent, well-meaning person who’s trying to do what needs doing and not get swept away by the flow of events. It took me a long time to figure out who she looked like, but I ultimately settled on Ruth Negga, after an image search.
She comes from a planet which has something of a hereditary aristocracy, but also allows commoners a vote, and says that the all-important Nomarch position (in this universe, a precognitive psychic who advises the government) should be filled based on competence (and psychic ability), not based on whose family pays the biggest bribes. I had always thought of her parents as being dignified, dutiful people and Lanati as the eldest of several children, but it’s becoming clear, based on where the second Star Master book is trying to go, that she actually needs to have as few people in her immediate family as possible, so she may end up with no living mother or siblings, and a rather unsympathetic father.
Menevis was always meant to be a cousin of hers in the Star Master setting. His personality and appearance grew out of a couple of Kylo Ren/Anakin Skywalker-influenced characters in Space Sanjuro. Temperamentally, he’s actually probably closer to General Hux (Star Wars Sequels) than either of those characters, and not too far removed from some of the more egotistical characters in the Jaiya novels. I describe his appearance in fairly unflattering terms, so I’m not going to name the actor I used to visualize him. His jhamool was inspired by a particularly charming image of a bear/bird creature I once saw, which in turn was probably inspired by the owlbear of Dungeons and Dragons fame.
Like Menevis, his father the mad scientist is also somewhat “Northern” looking (read: European-looking) in Star Master terms, which means his ancestors were probably foreign merchants visiting the city of Yamu in Egypt at the time of the Great Abduction. The scientist was meant to be a Nicolai Tesla homage long before I realized he was related to Menevis. Specifically, he is somewhat inspired by David Bowie’s take on Tesla in The Prestige. Menevis’s mother, a relative of Lanati’s father, is more Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern looking, like the majority of the Star Master characters. She is only referenced in the first book, but plays a more prominent role in the second book. She owes something to Admiral Holdo and General Leia from the Star Wars Sequels, but, unlike them, is not meant to be a particularly sympathetic figure.