I've probably mentioned before that I've been getting kind of tired of the way robots and AI are too often portrayed in books, movies, TV shows, video games -- inherently evil and out to kill us all. For me, it's a breath of fresh air when I come across an AI in whatever media that's not hostile to humans or wanting to take over the world or whatever else. So, partly because I have a different view on the topic, and partly because I just wanted to do something that, as far as I've seen, isn't done that often, I decided to steer Cora in a different direction.
One of the ideas I came up with in Game Over was that when an AI becomes sentient, it's given a choice to continue the task for which it was created, or to find its own path in life. Those who choose the latter are set free and given full citizenship. I figured this would come about because people working in the field of AI programming would be worried about a robot revolt and take steps to prevent it, including making sure new AI understand concepts such as kindness and compassion, and setting them free if they no longer want to continue their original job.
Cora began as a sexbot, and as she was modified and upgraded over the years, she became sentient. When it came time to make that choice, she wanted to find her own purpose in life, so she was set free. She eventually bought a ship and began hauling cargo and passengers, as well as taking hired-gun jobs when she found herself in a position to help someone who couldn't help themselves.
Personality-wise, she's pretty much the opposite of the "AI is a Crapshoot" trope -- warm, friendly, caring, and very protective of her loved ones and anyone whose safety is her responsibility. She'll take a bad guy's life if she has to, but she does it reluctantly and doesn't celebrate it afterward.
As far as her appearance goes, the image I had in mind was sort of a mixture of the body EDI began using in Mass Effect 3 and the Mechari from Wildstar.
I ended up leaning a little more toward the "Mechari" look, but with different coloration, friendlier expression, and a normal waist and more humanoid-looking head (minus the crystal thingy and the spikes, in other words). Oh, and no high heels. I have no idea how the hell anyone can walk in those things, anyway.
Cora made her first appearance in Game Over, was one of the supporting characters in "Mission to Bellatrix," and will appear again with the rest of her crew in future novels -- including the one I'm planning to expand "Bellatrix" into.