Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.
3. Who is the book for and why will they love it?
I don’t want to be a legend. Oh,
Well that’s a God damned lie — I do.
To say I do this for the people
I admit is hardly true.
~ ‘Swallow’ – Emilie Autumn (Opheliac, 2006)
First and foremost The Mayor is for myself. It’s exactly the kind of book I enjoying reading, exploring themes and subjects of great interest to me, filled with characters I love and adore — I’d go crazy if I didn’t write their story down! That’s quite a selfish thing to say, isn’t it? It’s true though.
I haven’t written The Mayor with a particular demographic in mind, but still, one has to be able to market these things…
The Mayor is an adult historical fantasy novel. The story is very character driven and relationship-focused* with a female protagonist, which stereotypically appeals to women more than men (though I’ve had male beta readers and they’ve been very positive!). If you like gritty historical novels with a hint of magical realism, where seemingly small and innocuous actions ripple outwards with violent, often devastating effect, then you’ll find lots to love in my book.
*What ‘relationship’ means in this context: familial, romantic, sexual, political, professional, dysfunctional…
4. Your favourite thing that DIDN’T make it into the book (such as a background story, description or an erased character)
My favourite aspects of The Mayor that won’t make it into the final draft are usually to do with character backstories. One of my favourite backstories is that of Melora’s governess, Miss Lillith. Despite being an incredibly minor character — with one crucial part to play — she’s one of my most developed.
First, a history lesson: foundling hospitals were philanthropic institutions set up in the mid-18th century to take in abandoned children left there by desperate mothers, no questions asked. Sometimes the mothers would leave an ‘identity token’, should she one day return to lay claim to the child. These tokens could be anything: a scrap of paper with a message on it; trinkets ranging from pieces of glass and cotton to exquisite embroidery and jewellery. Some of these tokens are on display in the Foundling Museum (click here). I find it desperately sad to look at them. I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for some of these women to surrender their child for the sake of their reputation or personal safety.
~*~ Warning: Rape ~*~
Ada Lillith was abandoned at birth by her mother, the town’s milliner, Louise Lovelace, on the doorstep of New Hardway’s Foundling Hospital for Deserted Children. Louise was raped by a New Hardway Judicial Officer who invaded her shop one night. She managed to hide the resultant pregnancy right up until the moment of birth, at which point Ada Lillith was born in the storeroom and cut from Louise’s body with a carving knife.
Knowing she could not really afford to keep the child and afraid of losing her fiancé — whom she feared would leave her for being ‘spoiled’ by another man — Louise secretly left baby Ada with the Foundling Hospital along with a ring and a note with the baby’s name on it (Ada and Lillith are actually Miss Lillith’s first and middle names, the latter of which became her last name). Louise had hoped the Foundling Hospital would use the ring to pay for Ada’s welfare, but instead the hospital kept it safe and passed it along to their charge once she left the hospital at the age of fifteen. Having already secured a position as governess to the Winships — taking over from the nursemaid once Melora was old enough to begin her schooling at the age of five — Ada resolved not to sell the ring and kept it instead. It is her dearest and most prized possession, and a source of fascination to the young Melora.
Incidentally, the Judicial Officer who raped Ada’s mother was caught and prosecuted for a separate rape charge and later hanged. Louise Lovelace and her husband had already moved to Hilt at this point. Louise is still running her hat shop in the capital during the events of The Mayor.
5. Chapter 5, Line 5… share 5 lines of your WIP and then invite 5 writers to do the same.
Melora forced a smile, lowering her quill.
“Yes thank you, Jaspher.” Irritation fluttered at the back of her skull for this minor intrusion upon her thoughts. “I am quite well, though I confess my mind was elsewhere.”
The air within the office was oppressively close.
~ The Mayor: Part One (Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018)
I don’t think I even know 5 writers! And those I do know are taking part in this challenge already.
I know Sara Le Tourneau and SarahM follow this blog and sometimes comment. Therefore I nominate the two of you!
Phew! All caught up. See you again in a month, probably.