Writerly Navel-Gazing ~ Week 11: Questions 10 and 11

Part of the 30 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!

Well, one of my characters is in a retroactive, cross-dimensional relationship with a faerie prince from one of K.F. Goodacre‘s stories… Does that count?

I shall endeavour to explain. I can’t remember how the subject came up exactly, but Kim and I were once discussing the sexuality of our characters. I have two canonical LGBT+ characters in The Mayor: John, who is bisexual; and Nell, who is a lesbian.

Mary Read and Anne Bonny
Much has been made of the sexualities of the pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny over the years, but of course never confirmed. I drew a lot of inspiration for Nell’s character from these two fascinating women.

Important note: I am aware I’m applying modern-day labels to characters that have no concept of such things here. Though same-sex relations happened in the 18th century (obviously), academic understanding of sexuality during this period was severely limited. And despite being one of the more sexually liberated historical eras, sex between men was punishable by death. Whilst sex between women was (laughably) seen as an impossibility and therefore not illegal (see here), they could be cornered on some other capital charge like witchcraft or fraud if they got found out. John has a well-referenced relationship with a male character in The Mayor in addition to his relationships with women, and Nell repeatedly demonstrates she cares more for the company of women than she does men. Ergo, I use these labels when talking about their sexuality, because from a modern-day perspective, this is what I believe they would identify as if they were living in this day and age.

During this discussion, Kim remarked on how well-suited her character Huckleberry was to John. I found myself in agreement with her. They’re both extroverted, both fun-loving and adventurous, both have a wicked sense of humour and both are, it has to be said, exactly the other one’s type.

So, being writing partners, what did we do? Well, we wrote about it of course! And because I enjoyed what we wrote so much (as mentioned in my last blog post, John’s character didn’t come easily to me; writing something this fun and wacky really helped), I decided to sneak it into The Mayor. The man I mentioned John having had a relationship with? His name is Henry Squires, and he is loosely based on Huck. Have fun with that, Dear Readers!

11. Who is your favourite character to write? Least favourite?

Speak of the devil and he shall appear…

I love writing about John. I say writing about John — not with — because unlike the other three primary characters in The Mayor, John doesn’t get a POV and has no internal monologue. Readers will only get to know him through the perceptions of other characters. This is fun for me to write, because they all have such drastically different opinions about him: Melora practically hero-worships him; Jaspher frets and rages about him in equal measure; and Kale just sees him as an utter waste of space, barely worthy of his time. The impact he has on the lives of all three however is massive. He is my spanner in the works. A sharp-tongued libertine ahead of his time. I cannot stress how hard I had to work on his character enough, but I got there in the end and it was worth it. I love writing about John. Love, love, love.

S.E. Berrow

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