Tag Archives: alternate universe

Creating Characters: Breaking the Archetype – The Gay Guy

When it comes to creating a character, we writers have to be very careful to avoid many things. One of those things is the archetype. Archetypes are great for miscellaneous persons with very small roles. They are also great for satirical pieces. (The re-make of Hairspray comes to mind here haha) Other than that, I find them to be pretty flat as characters. Sticking to their stereotype is what makes them what the are, after all.

A common archetype that we see in modern media (I can’t say literature because I only really read historical romances, on the rare occasion I have a moment to read) is The Gay Guy. You know him. He’s got fabulous blonde hair, his fashion sense is trendy and drool worthy, and if you’re wearing last year’s LV, beware. He’s out for you. He wastes no time in making raunchy penis jokes and is secretly envious of your boyfriend. He’s your best girl friend. He picks our your clothes for you, waxes your brows, and will cuddle on the couch with you feeling completely safe because he’s gay.

Gag me.

As someone who comes from an incredibly gay family with a cornucopia of homosexual friends and acquaintances, I really don’t understand where this came from. But this isn’t a post about LGBT equality (I make a horrible activist), it’s about characters and my own insecurity as a writer.

I never put a character into a story just for the sake of having one. Never for the sake of being politically correct, or to embrace all walks of life. Hell, I don’t even make up my characters. They come to me.

And you know what? Like everyone else in this decade, I have a homosexual male in my cast. Two, actually. But Philip Avery is such a big part of the story (The Book of Cale in particular) that I actually get nervous talking about him and working with him for that reason. I fear the reaction of people assuming I’ve jumped onto some bandwagon. He isn’t ‘The Gay Guy’. His sexual orientation has no impact on who he is as a person, it’s just a matter of preference.

But how will  he be received? I’ve already had people ask me why I ‘made’ him gay. It wasn’t a choice, he just is. He always was, and will continue to be. I can’t change him and I don’t want to.

So I wonder, will people look at me and say, “of course she has a gay guy. Everyone has a gay guy.” because like the token black guy (which I don’t have. For no reason other than none have made their way into my head), he needs to make an appearance in order for me to be culturally acceptable.

Maybe I’m over thinking it. Realistically, so long as I do my job right, present a compelling story with characters that feel real and can be connected with, I shouldn’t worry about how someone is going to be analyzed or received. If readers can accept the homicidal psychopath that is our hero, I imagine the jaded, bearded tavern owner wiping down dirty mugs isn’t exactly a difficult man to accept.

I’m sorry he’s not fabulous. He’s just a sort-of single dad trying to make ends meet in 1784.


Mondays are for Music: Track 08

I’m excited about today’s music post because the piece actually belongs to a scene that I just wrote the other day! And because  of my total lack of participation on this blog (for good reason. I’m getting a lot of work done!), I’ll share it with you. 🙂

By the time he entered the room, ribbons, bows, and wrappings littered the floor. Wentworth had said he bought gifts for both him and Luke. He failed to mention showering Luke with gifts. Everywhere Aiden looked there were female accessories and trinkets. Boots, stockings, hats, gloves, a red cloak lined with the fur of an arctic fox, a diamond brooch, and an array of soaps and perfumes all scattered across the settee she had abandoned as she opted for a seat on the floor.

“This is a bit unnecessary,” Aiden announced as he stepped over a pile of curled ribbon, “I much prefer to travel lightly.”

“You’re just a killjoy,” said Wentworth, handing his partner a gift wrapped in black paper.

Aiden turned the package in his hands a few times, uncomfortable with the anticipation displayed in the two seated on the floor.With a shrug he released the box of its packaging and upon reveal, shook his head, laughing.

“I thought I might save us some time,” Wentworth mused.

“Thanks,” Aiden replied, admiring the box, containing exactly two hundred bullets specifically designed for his pistols, “I do hate making the trip to stock up.”

“It’s my turn!” Luke exclaimed, pulling out the gift she had purchased for him. Aiden raised a brow and Wentworth pointed to his new emerald stickpin, showing it off proudly.

She stood, and with two hands and a hopeful smile, presented Aiden with his present, wrapped carefully in the exact shade of red that matched her gown and the inside of his collar (he was wearing that coat today, she noticed). He took it from her gently, never removing his gaze from hers, the image of her sleeping on the floor burned into his memory.

Nodding, he opened it, and when he pulled the riding gloves out from the paper, his breath caught and he nearly felt his heart stop.

Useless.

That was what his father had deemed him. A child with a stutter could be silenced, but a boy who feared horses could not learn to ride and would be of no use to him at all. He would never inherit the dukedom if he didn’t learn his place.

Gabrielle was screaming. He could hear her voice through the thick wood doors that was their father’s study. She yelled and pulled fits, demanding the man be less cruel, but in the end, the truth was that she was not his mother and held no power over his upbringing.

Sinking against the wall, seven year old Aiden sighed and frowned at the carpet. He shouldn’t be alive. Everyone would be much happier if he hadn’t ever been born.

“They’re having it out again, are they?”

Aiden looked up to see the elegant structure of his brother-in-law looking curiously at the doors.

“What’s he on about this time? Surely he knows by now that your speech is nothing to be frowned upon.”

“H-h-hors-horses.”

Micah St. Lawrence, the only man (save Fletcher) to ever look upon Aiden as a human being and a respectable member of society, frowned at this. “Horses? Have you let them go?”

When Aiden shook his head, his black hair falling over his eyes, Micah sighed. “I see. You are still fearful of them.”

The boy looked up at him, hurt reflecting in his eyes, and frustration visible on the lines of his brow. With a gentle smile, Micah crouched down to his level and with a smile, withdrew a pair of riding gloves. They were camel in colour, to match all of his earthy, yet bright attire.

“Do you see these?” he asked, not expecting a response from Aiden. He had learned to keep his questions rhetorical for the most part. “These just arrived today from the glover. There was a bit of an accident at the tannery, in which a wizard spilled a pot of magic dust over all the leather.”

Aiden perked up, his eyes becoming curious and filled with wonder. Did wizards exist? He had never seen one.

“The dust, so I was told, was meant to ease fear. The tanner intended to use it on the saddles, to keep horses from becoming too skittish, but alas, it fell all over the wrong leather.”

He took one of Aiden’s small hands and slid one of the oversized gloves onto it. “I will teach you to ride, and with these, I promise you will not be afraid.

“Let Gabrielle and your father have words. We shall visit the stables and pat my horse.”

With both hands lost inside of his new gloves, Aiden nodded and, walking closely beside the man he wished so dearly to be his father, anticipated proving himself worthy of inheritance.

“Do you like them, Mr. Finnegan?”

Aiden blinked, returning to the present and looking down at his gift. The backs had been embossed with his initials, just as his saddle was.

“You’re a busy man,” Luke went on, “and I noticed that you haven’t taken the time to purchase yourself new gloves, as badly as you need them.”

Wentworth chimed in then. “Perhaps you would like to take Miss Avery for a ride down the lane.”

Still off balance, Aiden merely hummed in agreement. “Of course,” he said, “I’ll be right down.”

He left the room, dazed, and when he stumbled slowly into his chambers, he rested his back against the door. He took a few breaths to calm himself, clutching the new gloves with white knuckles.

When his thoughts returned to him, he reached over to his wardrobe and pulled out the gloves he had worn for over twenty years. It was with these gloves that he had found his confidence and learned to ride. There had been no wizard, he learned that later on and Micah was even better a man than he was given credit for. He had faith in Aiden when no one did. He shared Gabrielle’s pride in him, and saw past his handicaps, knowing that beneath the stuttering and the fearful fits, he was still just a boy who needed love and tenderness like any other.

Steeling his nerves, Aiden brought the gloves over to the corner and, pulling out one of the miniatures, placed the image of Micah inside of them. It was time to move on.

“I won’t forget you,” he whispered, a promise more to himself than anyone.

Fletcher watched from the doorway, and when Aiden turned, he nodded in silent approval.

The Book of Luke completion progress: 42%

The Noble Project completion progress: 10%


Recap: 30% Progress

Whee! This morning I reached my estimated 30% mark! This is very exciting because reaching any checkpoint is a whole lot of fun. As I did with the 15%, I’m going to post a recap from 15%-30% and we’ll see what’s been happening that we may not have touched upon here.

Luke discovers that Aiden is in the good graces of very few people:

“They like Mr. Simon don’t they?” she asked cheekily. While the girls had clearly expressed their sensual opinions on Aiden, it was clear that Wentworth was the crowd favourite. Luke understood that easily.

The bartender scratched his balding head. “Simon, yeah. They get themselves dressed up all pretty when he comes to town.”

“I’ll bet,” Luke murmured, “and I’m sure they’re all dying for Mr. Finnegan to get his hands on them.” She paused to let out a humorless snort, “I’m sure he’s something to swoon over.”

When the man before her failed to see the sardonic laughter in her tone, she let the smile fade from her face. The bartender’s features darkened and his breathing quickened. Luke had gotten too comfortable.

“That man,” he said lowly, his fingertips shaking as he reached for the large mug the brunette had rejected, “Finnegan.”

A freezing sensation shot through her bones at that moment as she watched his eyes burn with a silent fury.

“I hate that man,” he said, his nose wrinkling up in disgust at the mere thought of him, “fucking son of Satan himself.”

They were the strongest words against a man that Luke had ever heard spoken. With her father considered a disgrace to their community, and her mother not in a socially acceptable state of mind, she had heard it all.

[…]

Though the man looked as if he might either spit fire or hurl his ale across the room, he didn’t. Instead, he took a long swig.

“I had a daughter once,” he said quietly, “wife too.”

Luke licked her lips and scooted forward on the stool. ‘Had’ and ‘once’ were generally terms used by folks who no longer possessed such assets.

“Were they taken by the Infection?”

His strong hand came over hers then and she jumped. He squeezed her hard, but he was trembling. “They were taken by him,” he hissed, “hired me, he did, to do an impossible task. When I failed, he took them.”

Aiden displays some more trigger happiness:

Mr. Espott chose not to respond to this, finally turning his attention to Luke.

Who is this?” he asked, tucking the scissors underneath his right arm while he grabbed her chin with his bony left hand, “your daughter?”

“No.”

“No, of course not. You aren’t so old.” He moved down, grabbing the extra fabric at her waist. “Dress is too big,” he murmured. His eyes traveled up to her hair and his already critical face became puzzled. “What happened to your hair?”

Luke lifted her arm and thrust her arm out at Aiden. “He cut it off!”

“Cut it off, you say?” He turned to Aiden, “why on Earth would you do that?”

Aiden waved a dismissive hand, “If you think she’s in an unfortunate state now, you should have seen what she looked like when we found her.”

Mr. Espott straightened, giving the girl another once over, but not revealing his opinion. “So this is how you treat your women then, truly? It is no wonder she left.”

There it was again, the trigger that Aiden needed. But with the shining silver pistol pointed directly at his forehead, the dressmaker didn’t even flinch.

“So it’s true then,” he whispered, “you have changed.”

“You will mind your tongue,” came the low response from the man behind the weapon.

One of the seeds of Aiden’s past is planted:

Something hard and heavy settled in Luke’s stomach then.

“He loved her, didn’t he?”

“Loved her?” he asked, shaking his head, “Yes. And then… she destroyed him.”

There was a silence in the room as Luke took a breath that shuttered through her corset, but didn’t quite reach her lungs. She wanted to ask. She wanted to know why, and how. She wouldn’t get those answers today, because Mr. Espott had already begun to dress her in various fabrics, his quiet, yet quick pace a signal that he was through speaking on the subject.

They arrive at the first safe house:

Aiden parted ways with them once inside, and Wentworth made a point of showing Luke around to all of the main rooms of the house. Drawing rooms, dining rooms, sitting rooms and observatories. There were music rooms and libraries, a kitchen larger than her father’s entire tavern, and even a ballroom, though she had been told that it was never used anymore.

“That’s a shame,” she said, frowning as she made a couple of hops across the floor, “I would love to have a ball.”

“And someday you shall,” Wentworth answered, leading her back into the hallway, “but for now, we have to do our best to keep out of range of those associated with the Infection.”

Luke sighed, scuffing the marble with her feet, “Do you really think they are looking for us?”

Of course not. He didn’t say it, he couldn’t say it. It wasn’t the Infection they need be worried about, it was the king and his men. He had vowed ten years ago that he would find Aiden and bring him to justice. Wentworth knew Cale wasn’t the sort of man to back down. He would hunt as long as Aiden would run.

Luke finally learns a bit about Marietta Grace:

Fletcher rubbed his forehead. “She disappeared. The day of the wedding, just vanished. –Poof,” he made a small exploding gesture with his knobby hands, “her maids, gowns, jewels, even her carriage. All gone. No one saw her leave.”

Luke furrowed her brow. “Why? What did he do?”

“Aiden has never been a good man,” Fletcher replied, “know that. But there was nothing, nothing done to Miss Grace to make her flee. She was his world, the only thing keeping him sane. His only drive in life was making her happy.”

“A-and she just left?”

“He was already at the altar when they found out. He waited for three days, no food, no drink, no sleep. We all tried to get him down, but he refused, claiming that she would show.”

As the memory flooded Fletcher’s mind, he closed his eyes, steadying himself. “He lost all touch with humanity that day. Whatever shred of a man was left in his soul tore itself away and he became this,” he waved his hand around the room, “this monster.”

     “Mr. Espott believes in him,” Luke said softly, “do you?”

“I’ve learned to adapt to his elevated fury,” Fletcher admitted, “but I would very much like to see the man who was simply bitter. Do I think I will? No. Not in this lifetime.”

Philip Avery visits his estranged wife:

Inhaling deeply, Philip pressed his palm to his forehead. He shouldn’t be thinking of such terrible things (but how could he not?) when he was here in this house. He was here to tell her. He was here to see her.

He was here to remember.

Her voice broke through his silence then, followed by Tommy’s frantic footsteps and the slamming open of the drawing room doors.

“Philip!”

A half frightened, fully forced smile appeared on his face as he turned to her, expecting to see what everyone assumed to be true: a crazed, frizzy haired woman with eyes as wild as the corner preachers and clothes tattered and unkempt. What he did not expect, was the vision of a woman before him.

Isabella Avery, the woman that had once been his best friend, his wife, his savior stood before him in all of the radiance of a new bride. Her hair had been done up in an elaborate coiffure, her gown was not of the finest materials, but what Philip believed to be the most fashionable design. Her eyes shone brightly, a blueish grey, and the way she strode across the room made him to believe that if he had any interest in women, he would want nothing more than this one back in his home.

“Oh Philip!” She cried, taking his hands and squeezing them gently. “It has been far too long!”

She’s crazy.

Isabella smoothed out her skirts and, taking a calming breath, smiled at his back. “You are welcome to stay here, Philip. If being at home is too difficult.”

“Thank you,” he said, sniffing and dabbing at his eyes, “but I would hate to impose.”

“It’s no imposition,” she argued, “I would be honored to have a great friend such as yourself under my roof.”

He let out a sardonic chuckle. “My apologies, Izzy, but it might be a bit awkward for your lover to visit with you and your husband.”

The light laugh that floated through the room hit him with a pang of nostalgia and when he faced her again, her face was bright with amusement, as if he had told a joke.

“Oh Philip, don’t be ridiculous. Cale is a good husband. I would never dream of taking a lover.”
,
So they were back to that.

Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to advance in his quest, not with her help, he smiled back at her. “Of course not,” he said quickly, “your husband loves you very much.”

“He does, doesn’t he?” she mused, laughing again.

 More than you know, Philip thought, allowing Tommy to lead him out of the room. They would leave now, and he wouldn’t return. He couldn’t play with her, not when their daughter was in danger. Isabella didn’t remember, and as much as it pained him, for her, perhaps it was best that way.

We are given a nugget of information:

“I’m not restless,” said Aiden, pulling off his riding gloves, worn from years of use, “this simply is not productive.”

“It’s hard to imagine you bored here, my friend,” Wentworth chuckled, throwing out his arms, and putting the estate on display “you were born into this! Enjoy it for the sake of nostalgia.”

Aiden’s face turned stony and his hands clenched. “There is nothing nostalgic about it.”

“My apologies,” said Wentworth, holding up his hands, though they both knew there was nothing apologetic about his words. “I was never a duke, so I suppose I wouldn’t know.”

“You’re walking a thin line,” he was warned. At mention of the title he once held, Aiden grew, if possible, even more bitter about their stay in the estate.

But Wentworth merely sighed and smiled, peering into his teacup and then frowning when he realized he had drank it all.

Luke delivers a below the belt punch:

“I can’t marry without love,” she replied softly, to which Aiden began to chuckle bitterly. She immediately shot him a look of disgust as she stood, picking up her sketchbook to leave.

“People don’t marry for love, Miss Avery,” he said coldly, staring up at her. He wouldn’t let her walk out just yet. There was a fire inside him, a growing need to destroy something, and she had so conveniently landed before him.

But then, she said something quite unexpected.

“You did.”

Aiden’s silence was heavy. So heavy in fact that the entire room seemed to be crushing down on the three. Even Wentworth had nothing to say. Luke knew that the words she had spoken were uncalled for. She also knew that she would have to begin defending herself quickly if she wanted to succeed with this man.

Standing before him, she leveled her gaze to his and set her jaw. He wasn’t going to escape anymore. She wouldn’t let him behave like a boorish hermit, treating her like dust hidden beneath his carpets. They stood like that for some time and when Luke finally turned to leave, she left him with just one word.

“Almost.”

Aiden lets us know just what type of romance these two will have:

Luke lifted her chin. “I trust no one.”

Lowering himself to her, Aiden reached out and took her face into one of his hands with little regard for her personal comfort.

“You trust everyone,” he breathed, squeezing her jaw before he shoved her away and turned, lighting up a cigarette, “that is the difference between us.”

“I trust you.”

The words came out as a whisper, a small accusation that crept its way underneath Aiden’s coat and up his spine. He’d never heard those words before. As he inhaled, he imaged what sort of expression she was making and wondered why he felt a pang of familiarity each time he looked at her. She hadn’t said anything further, nor was she making an effort to leave.

He stood for some time, contemplating her, while she kept herself against the wall, pondering his reactions to her words. When his cigarette was finished, he let it fall from his lips and onto the tiled floor where he crushed it with his boot. Someone would clean it.

He looked to her, and sure enough, she was just as he had left her.

“You trust me.”

She nodded and he lit another cigarette.

“Then I will be your undoing, Miss Avery.”

Aiden is still trying to know why she looks so familiar:

“Have we met?”

The question caught her off guard and she whipped around, giving him a rather puzzled look. “Excuse me?”

She didn’t seem to mind at all that he was half naked now. Her complexion had returned to normal, her jaw was steeled as it often was when he was speaking to her, and there was no trembling in her fingers.

“Mr. Finnegan, I do believe that I would remember meeting someone like you.”

“Ah, so I am memorable.”

Since when did he partake in banter?

“I’d say so,” she snorted, “no one broods the way you do.”

But as usual, Luke diverts the conversation:

    Aiden bit back a curse. He was unused to showing his bare torso. The women he laid with rarely got the pleasure of feeling his flesh as he devoured theirs, and Fletcher never commented on his body when he was bathing. He had nearly forgotten about the marks he had acquired over the years.

Absently, he brought one of his hands up over his shoulder and felt. They were there, raised and silky, as scars often are. There were more than what he could feel, far more than he wanted to admit. Some were thick and jagged, some thin and delicate, crisscrossing over each other in a deranged display of lattice work. There were others, larger imperfections that had once been series of welts, but over the years, had faded into ugly patches of pink.

“How did you get those?” Luke pressed, her voice still low, with a hint of dark wonder.

Aiden drew his hand from his skin and, without much thought, undid the first button of his breeches. He was through with her. Her eyes widened and her breath hitched. She took a single step back, but otherwise made no motion to leave.

“They were a punishment,” he told her, “and that is all you need know.”

“One punishment?”

There was doubt in her voice that he didn’t like. He undid the second button. She spun around and inhaled sharply.

“We’ve never met,” she confirmed, keeping her head high and her thoughts clear. He was taunting her, mocking her, manipulating her. She heard the third button release and she let out a humorless laugh.

“Really Mr. Finnegan, when was the last time you were in my town?”

As she closed the door behind her, retreating into the safety of her own proper bedchamber, where there were no naked brutes to torment her, Aiden considered her words. She was right. When had been the last time he had been so far North?

Peeling his breeches from his body, he shook his head. The last time he had been up there had been well over  a decade ago. He didn’t even remember what he had gone for.

🙂 Lots of fun snippets that are enjoyable now, but a lot of them are actually foreshadowing for more important complications later on. I do hope you are enjoying everything!

Book of Luke completion progress: 30%

The Noble Project completion progress: 7%


Alphabet Soup: C is for Cale

Huzzah! Week three of Alphabet soup and I finally get to talk about Cale! We haven’t seen all too much of him because he doesn’t make an official appearance until The Book of Aiden, but he does cause a lot of rifts and is responsible for a lot of undertones at the point we are at now.

So here we go. Now you’ll see why my favourite King has an entire book dedicated to him.

Cale and Aiden were childhood friends and shared a companionship like no other. Compassion and chivalry are his creed, and he was most often found comforting his bruised and battered friend. Cale had little desire to claim the throne, his one and only desire being to capture the heart of a yong lady and fall deeply in love with her, have many children, and carry on happily ever after.

Fate is a cruel mistress, however, and just after he took up the throne, the young king caught a most unfortunate disease to which a cure has not yet been found.

Angered by Cale’s forced abandonment, Aiden attempted to murder his friend, completing the cycle of loss, but was unsuccessful. Bound by law, the king was forced to try the duke before the court, condemning him to life as a commoner, all the while praying that he would not choose imprisonment.

When Aiden brought chaos and catastrophe to the room, escaping and leaving Cale looking like an incompetent clown, the king committed his life to catching the man he had once called brother.

As the years wear on and his condition worsens, Cale cuts his dreams of love, concentrating on his hunt that nears ten years. When Isabella Avery crosses his path, confessing her love for him, and her husband offers clues to the whereabouts of the Black Duke in exchange for royal cooperation in finding his missing daughter, the king begins to discover how many lives are connected to this fierce drama.

Using Isabella as collateral, he begins a kingdom wide chase to bring down a notorious criminal, and return his captive to her family.

But Cale’s contact is corrupt, and in keeping with his character, anything involving Aiden Finnegan is very…

Complicated.


The Balancing Act

One of my favourite aspects of Aiden Finnegan is just how apathetic towards his fellow human beings he really is. The fact that he’ll off stable boys or chatty women without blinking an eye is terrifying, but when he has the audacity to complain that they’ve bloodied his favourite boots, I can’t help but crack a smile.

This is what makes fiction so great. Things that aren’t acceptable in real life are enjoyed when presented in a fictitious scenario. Some people love them. Some anticipate these horrors.

But when is it too much? Let’s take the movie franchise Saw for example. I’m not a fan of horror movies, but I did see that one and it was fabulous. It was unique, exciting, disturbing, and so very very delicious. But then they kept going. And they kept going. And they kept going. People still watch them, to get their horror film fix, I imagine, but you no longer hear about how great they are. Now they’re just sort of… all the same.

As a writer, it’s scary to think that someone might think that of my protagonist. I don’t think anyone does–I haven’t had any sort of feedback saying so, but like I’ve said in previous posts, I really like to take Aiden’s nasty and run with it. So I’ve got to step back and sprinkle in some human. But that too can get boring. I mean, let’s be honest. There are only so many times I can have the guy musing at dawn.

So what’s a good way to balance a character? My trick has always been the other characters. I’m good with characters. As a writer, they are my strength. (Can someone please teach me how to write action scenes?!)

Inner monologues and surprising fun facts learned during our anti-hero’s alone time are all well and good, but if we as real people grow and develop with the help of the people we surround ourselves with, isn’t the same true for our characters? They are, in their own worlds, people too. They function just as we do and in the universes I create, I don’t mess with that multi-dimension science/psychology/physiology/biology/personologyI’mjustmakingitupnow because I don’t understand any of it and I’m too lazy and too poor to go to university to study it in order to change it somewhere else.

Just, no.

So I throw in other people to balance out the extremists. If you’re a good writer (and I do consider myself as such, the pompous jerk that I am) everyone will work off each other and you’ll have a really good cast set up. Even if, as is the case of The Noble Project, they aren’t actually good people.

The first to tame Aiden’s fury a bit is Wentworth. This is the most obvious in his character because he is, as stated before, the complete opposite. He’s bright, funny, charming, optimistic, and values human life above all. He has also known Aiden since the steel hearted bastard was in the schoolroom, so he’s got a lot of valuable information to share with us throughout the story.

Secondly, and another obvious one, we have our heroine, Luke Avery. I wouldn’t say that she’s opposite Aiden, so much as different. Wentworth balances him, Luke unlocks him. She isn’t afraid of him, but she isn’t so brave either. She knows nothing about him, and sees things in him that no one else does. This isn’t because she’s amazing, radiating with empathy and understanding or even that she’s such a kind hearted girl that she sees the good in everyone. (She’s actually quite selfish) She is able to see good in this man because everyone else’s image of him is already set in stone. He does have quite a reputation, after all.

But we can’t just have the main characters working the three rings of this circus because that’s boring, predictable, and cheap. So I threw in one Mr. Espott.

The door opened and an elderly man came out, a measuring tape draped over his pointy shoulders. He blinked rapidly as he hollered, and brandished his arm (sporting a particularly dangerous looking pair of scissors), though the man was so thin and frail he appeared to nearly snap at each move that he made.

Much to Luke’s surprise, Aiden did little to defend himself.

You,” Wilfred Espott snarled, pointing his scissors up into Aiden’s face, “you ruined me!”

“I’ve ruined many men,” Aiden admitted, crossing his arms, “what makes you so special?”

Luke poked her head out from her hiding place behind his back to observe the old man’s reaction. At Aiden’s cold words, this man did not flare up like Glendale had. Instead, hurt flashed though his eyes. Sorrow and disappointment etched themselves across his features.

But he did not let these emotions linger.

“You brought to me the finest inspiration,” he said, his arms raised up, at his lament, “the very best of models. At your bidding I created masterpieces! Absolute masterpieces! And now–ha!”

“The world is in a terrible state, Mr. Espott,” Wentworth chimed in.

“Trades!” cried the dressmaker, throwing an arm over his icy blue eyes in despair, “they come offering trades! As if I am nothing more than a common tailor!”

Aiden sighed in irritation, “Espott–”

“Ten years!” he exclaimed, shaking his scissors at Aiden again, “I’ve been waiting for you to return for ten years and what have you brought me? A womanizing gambler!”

Wentworth let out a cheery chuckle, “Knows me well, doesn’t he?”

Luke stepped into his view, knowing that there was no threat to be had here, but Mr. Espott did not acknowledge her, still howling on about Aiden’s lack of patronage.

You were the only man I ever designed for,” Mr. Espott reminded him, circling him and shaking his head in disapproval, “yet I see you have moved on to craftsmen who are less than worthy of dressing you.”

“Losing one’s status in the world does have its repercussions,” Aiden replied dully.

Wilfred Espott is not afraid to stand his ground, and he’s not afraid of any Aiden Finnegan. Why’s this? Mostly because he is old and pretentious. I didn’t do this on purpose. I didn’t create him to flesh out my hero, or to add a speckle of humor in order to give Wentworth a break. Mr. Espott’s real purpose was to introduce this:

The woman in question was. to put it simply, the most beautiful woman Luke had ever seen. Her porcelain skin was the color of fresh milk, and free of the sort of freckles that liked to surface on a sunny summer day. Her hair was dark, the blackest black and as the tight curls toppled out from the coiffure on top of  her head and down her back, they shone like a river of ink across the creamy skin of her exposed back.

Her eyes were particularly mesmerizing:  grey like Aiden’s, but lighter and far more delicate. There was a smirk on her face, just the slightest upturn of her lips, rouged for the portrait. Though she was silent, there was no mistaking what she wanted to say. It was the same words whispered into the ears of young gentlemen by the women who worked the street corners, the same sort of desire of two lovers entangled in a dangerous affaire.

“That there is Marietta Grace,” said Mr. Espott, turning to admire the portrait. “I never knew the meaning of my profession until he brought her to my door.”

Curiosity wormed its way through Luke’s mind and though she was too polite to inquire further, he went on, his sighs becoming heavier and his words wistful and lost in a time passed.

“I had never seen a more beautiful woman,” he whispered, “and she knew this. She wanted the best. She wanted to be noticed. She wanted what other women would spend their days swooning over while their own dressmakers did their best to imitate.” He paused to laugh, cracking a genuine smile at the memory, “He of course, thought nothing of it, practically tossing his gold at my feet.”

Something hard and heavy settled in Luke’s stomach then.

“He loved her, didn’t he?”

“Loved her?” he asked, shaking his head, “Yes. And then… she destroyed him.”

The meat of his rage, and the center of his despair. One of the very key reasons that he behaves the way he does. I mentioned it briefly in chapter one, and in this chapter, danced with so allusions to it, but allusions and passing thoughts aren’t enough. The seed has been planted.

There will be lots of people like Mr. Espott popping up, some giving Aiden more dimension, some Wentworth, and many, Luke. Really, the girl will talk to anyone.

Having a terrible man as a protagonist is fun, and people enjoy reading it. Giving him some balance is necessary, and having valid (if complex and unforgivable) reasons for making the choices he does, is what makes a story worth reading.


The Joys of History

One of the most glorious things about writing stories set in a universe created by myself is the decided lack of laws to be followed. I’ll admit that I’m a cheat, and I really only do this so that I am free to have historical and fashionable inaccuracies. That’s really all there is to it, but well, when you give a mouse a cookie and all.

That’s not to say that I don’t do my research–I do. I do a lot of it because no matter how much of a world you create, there have to be some consistencies. I choose to keep it as closely related to our mother Earth as possible, then pick, choose, and rearrange minor details for a believable universe that may sound fantastical (or not, in the case of this story), but is still quite simple to relate to.

Even if I weren’t writing in my own universe and I was just writing in the setting of, say, 1790, (which is easily around which time The Noble Project might take place (for fashion reasons), but then again maybe not (for pretty much any other reason that would not fit into the timeline of European history. Like I said, I cheat.).) we have a lot of scientific ignorance. Or, lack of scientific fact! (Also, this paragraph is just a mess. Whatever. I’m exhausted.)

Because there is a lack of modern science and medicine, my characters are allowed to be completely ignorant of what we know today, and can get away with things like this:

Aiden flicked some ash down the front of her bodice as she said this, watching some of the pieces flutter down between her breasts. This woman was one of his favourites. It was unfortunate for her that she knew this.

“Men do not die from smoking, Cassandra,” he said coolly, “men die from swords, bullets and plagues. Men die from the Infection, and they die from the noose. I might venture so far as to say a careless man will poison himself with drink, but I have never, in all of my days, come across a man who has fallen to something so trivial as a cigarette.”

Said nowadays? You sound like an ignorant fool. 1790? Aiden, you are such a badass.

(but also sort of an ignorant fool.)

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Book of Luke completion progress: 9%

The Noble Project completion progress: 2%