#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 31: Questions 27 & 28

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

27. Your favourite location in your novel

I’m really fond of a place called Kephal, aka. the “White-Hewn City”. It is situated on the Taronese coastline and carved entirely out of a cliff-face.

Kephal is never actually visited in Part One of The Mayor, but it is mentioned by my character John a couple of times when he tells tales of his voyages throughout the Taro Isles. It’s my hope to take the reader there at some point during Part Two. It’s also the opening location for my current WIP, the John novella.

Kephal was inspired by a combination of the archaeological city of Petra, Jordan — famous for its rock-cut architecture — and the White Cliffs of Dover. It gleams brilliant white in the sun and is renowned throughout all of Liran.

28. Tell us about… sports in your book

I don’t really cover sports in any great amount of detail in The Mayor. They are, for the most part, mentioned purely for world-building purposes.

John’s the ‘sporty’ one in my book. He’s been known to attend boxing matches at the local taverns and play dice with his fellow sailors. He also occasionally bets on blood sports — dog and cock fights, rat-baiting etc.* — and enjoys practising his swordsmanship (an early form of fencing) with his father and/or brother. By the time the events of The Mayor roll around though, Jeremiah is far too ill and Jaspher too busy to participate.

*Note that I most certainly do not condone such cruelties myself. Sadly such things were a very popular way to pass the time in the 18th century. My protagonist Melora calls him out for it though — she loves animals and can’t abide the idea of them being made to kill each other!

S.E. Berrow

 

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#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 29: Questions 22, 23, 24, 25 & 26

This week was a valiant attempt to catch up on this writing challenge thing. Alas, due to the nature of question 29 — in which I was required to provide K.F. Goodacre with an answer for her weekly blog post — I fell a bit short. Nevertheless I did manage to hammer out answers to no less than five questions. Here we go!

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

22. What you find easiest / hardest about the writing process

Honestly, for me, it’s just getting the words down on the god damned page in the first place. I write soooooo slowly. It can be very disheartening seeing fellow writers brag about — or sometimes even lament — their word counts, effortlessly writing multiple thousands of words per day like it’s nothing/not enough and then there’s me, plodding along at barely 400 words per session… I wish I could write faster.

Continually comparing my writing progress to that of other writers is a problem I struggle with also. I am constantly battling feelings of inadequacy and impending failure… though I suppose that’s not necessarily writing-specific!

23. Top 5 quotes from your book

My book’s only in the first draft stages at the moment so I struggled to find ‘quotable’ lines. I’m quite fond of these ones though… enjoy!

1. “Melora Winship, I promise, when I am captain of my own ship, I will take you away from this miserable place. No more offices, no more ink-stained fingers — I would have you sail with me.”

2. “Don’t fool yourself into thinking Mr Winship ain’t cottoned on to you yet, Master Carson. Why else d’you think your[s and Melora’s] office is the only one that don’t have a lock on it?”

3. “You’re hardly one to scold me for getting a tattoo, Father.” said John, jabbing an accusing finger at Jeremiah’s right arm.

Jaspher could have sworn he saw his father’s lips twitch.

“Do as I say, Jonathan. Not as I do.”

4. A boy-shaped cloud of rum and stale sweat burst into the hall, looking tired, haggard and bruised.

5. His entire being was one raw nerve — inflamed and sore, beaten down by the necessity of living.

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

24. A minor character is now your protagonist. How do they fare?

Melora WinshipPart of Melora‘s characterisation is that she is ill-equipped to deal with everything that happens to her. She’s a young woman in the 18th century, brought up by a single father with little to no female influence in her life beyond her governess. She works alongside Jaspher — whom she’s known since childhood — at her father’s shipbuilding company; shipbuilding obviously being an incredibly male-dominated industry. Her best friend John, Jaspher’s brother, is a sailor, full of rough and ready manners. She is entirely surrounded by men who love, respect and protect her, and despite some arbitrary restrictions due to her gender, she’s used to getting her own way with little to no consequences.

Which is why she’s entirely unprepared for the arrival of a man like Kale who is manipulative, duplicitous and dangerous — the kind of man your mother warned you about. A minor character like Miss Lillith or Liz Moore— practical, sensible women who were born raised in New Hardway’s slums — would see through Kale straight away. They wouldn’t be taken in by his charms, nor dazzled by his wealth and good looks. They’d be entirely useless to him. Thus, there’d be no plot.

That’s what makes Melora interesting to me though; her experiences with Kale shape her, change her; she’s forced to learn fast. There are no other characters like her in the book. If Melora wasn’t Melora, she’d likely end up like another naive minor character of mine, Alice Dragan, whom Kale thoroughly chews up and spits out halfway through the book.

If a character like Roger Bellamy became the protagonist (LOL) I imagine he’d join forces with Kale for a little while for his own personal gain, then wind up horribly murdered once Kale was done with him. This is generally how it goes for most people who interact with Kale.

So that’s my answer to this question: not well. They’d end up either ignored, utterly ruined or dead.

25. Illustrations of three of your characters

I’ve peppered my posts throughout this challenge with illustrations of my characters, so today I thought I’d introduce you to three ~*~new~*~ illustrations never before seen! It’s my intention to add these to Meet The Characters once I have the full set. For the time being however, meet:


Renwick Jarvis

Crooked Town Magistrate, thief taker and all round skeeze.

Renwick Jarvis


Derrick Roper

Mayor to the Town of New Hardway and the person with whom Kale is staying when he arrives from Hilt.

Derrick Roper


Ada Lillith

Governess and glorified lady’s maid to Melora Winship. I’ve written a post about her before, which you can view by clicking here.

Miss Lillith


26. Your protagonist was born a different sex. Does your story change?

Pretty drastically, I’d say. The challenges Male!Melora would face would be completely different from those of the existing Female!Melora.

Female!Melora wishes to sail like her best friend John, but is forbidden from doing so because she’s a woman. Theoretically speaking, she could sail as a passenger, but it would be most unseemly for a young woman of her class to do so unchaperoned. Male!Melora wouldn’t have this problem. He might fall out with his father for choosing the lowly profession of sailing over shipbuilding, but there’d be nothing beyond his father’s disapproval to stop him from fulfilling his desires.

Assuming all the other characters retain their sex and sexualities, Male!Melora would also probably get along better with his colleague Jaspher, because the whole “unrequited love” thing wouldn’t be an issue. Jaspher is straight, so he wouldn’t be in love with Male!Melora. There’d no sexual tension, no angst, no problems. The pair would be a whole lot happier and comfortable around each other… or alternatively, they’d drive each other absolutely insane. Probably the latter to be honest. Melora is too stubborn and Jaspher too stuffy.

Again, assuming Male!Melora retained Female!Melora’s sexuality (straight), this would also mean he wouldn’t develop a crush on William Kale. Male!Melora would completely escape William Kale’s notice as a direct result of this (part of Female!Melora’s problem is she’s really bad at hiding how she feels) and thus is not open to being manipulated in this way. Male!Melora wouldn’t get in the way of Kale’s plans, and so they’d all go through without a hitch. This is absolutely terrible news for just about every other character in the book, but comparatively good news for Male!Melora. Thus endeth the plot. How dull.

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 27: Question 21

Aha! You get a blog post early this week! And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have another post for you on Wednesday… I’m still way behind but I’m determined to catch up. Soon.

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

21. An interview with your villain (See ‘Hot Seating’ for ideas or create your own)

As with my protagonist, this interview with my villain, William Kale, will take place at the beginning of The Mayor, hopefully spoiler free.

William KaleHow old are you/when were you born?
Now, wouldn’t you like to know?

Where were you born?
As you can probably tell from my accent, manner of dress and complexion, I am from Hilt, born and raised. I’m not at all certain what might lead you to conclude otherwise.

What’s your favourite food?
I am rather fond of almond biscuits, accompanied by a hot tea and lemon.

Are you allergic to anything?
Allergic? What does that mean? No. I am not allergic to anything, other than fire and blind stupidity.

Cats or dogs (preference)?
Neither.

Why?
I have no interest in animals. I certainly do not harbour any sort of affection for them. If anything, I would say I actively disliked them.

What has been the best day of your life so far?
That day — which I have been working towards for so long– is soon to come. I would hate to spoil the surprise…

And the worst?
The day I became an orphan, but it is rapidly shaping up to be today if you insist on asking such impertinent questions.

Do you have any habits you’re ashamed of?
None.

What would make you kill someone?
Killing is messy and a sure-fire way to scupper your own plans; there are other ways to remove people from the political chessboard. I find it best to avoid murder unless I am presented with no other choice, or success is one-hundred percent guaranteed.

Have you ever smoked/taken drugs?
No.

What would you do if I poked you in the eye right now?
I would remember it… and you would regret it.

Would you ever wear trainers without socks?
Judging by the disparaging tone of this question, I would presume this to be a rather uncouth manner of dress. I must therefore decline.

Who is your best friend?
I am best friends with everyone… and no one at all.

Where did you and your best friend meet?
Such tiresome questions…

Will you wear this pink dress?
[Distastefully] No.

Who is your favourite superhero?
Heroes? Heroes are fools. Aspiring to embody anyone other than yourself will lead only to bitter disappointment and inevitable failure.

What are you most afraid of?
I fear nothing. Given my past, one might be forgiven for assuming I fear fire, but on the contrary, I deliberately seek it out. Nothing is more cathartic than facing down the very thing that failed to kill you.

Are you romantic?
No. I’ve no need of it. My good looks and persuasive charm are all I need to lure a woman into bed, should I wish to. Which is not often. Some women, particularly those of a lower class, can be so forward…

Do you bite sellotape or cut it with scissors?
What is sellotape? It seems weak enough. I would bite it.

How often do you clean your teeth a day?
I scrub them meticulously with some warm water and a sponge after every meal.

Do you pick your nose?
Goodness, no. How disgusting.

If you could have one job, what would it be?
I am perfectly content within my current position as legate to this moral cesspit of a town.

Would you swim with sharks?
No.

Would you go into space?
Don’t be ridiculous.

You sneeze into your hand in public and don’t have a tissue. What do you do?
I would use my handkerchief. What is a tissue?

Your mother/brother/sister falls over. What do you do?
I’ve already told you that I have no family. Have you not been listening to a word I’ve said?

Do you dunk biscuits in your tea?
Sometimes, if it takes my fancy.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
No. Only fools would believe in something so trite.

Have you ever stolen anything?
Documents. Money. Secrets. Lives…

 

S.E. Berrow

Milestones, Novellas and Ravens

Hello, Everyone! I imagine you were probably expecting another month’s worth of answers to the #AcresofInk Writing Challenge.

Surprise! It’s not… Sorry about that.

I confess I’ve been rather amiss with my blogging of late. It’s my aim to catch up eventually, but these last couple of months have been an absolute whirlwind of activity and, much to my chagrin, June looks even worse. So, without further ado…

I’m just stopping by the officially announce…

~*~ I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE MAYOR ~*~

Huzzah

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Yes my friends, it has been A Struggle. After many, many years of trials, tribulations and tears, I finally have done it. I have written A Book. I’m so, so happy.

So what’s next?

Well, for the time being, I’ve put myself on an Enforced Break, fully endorsed by my writing partner K.F. Goodacre. This means I’m not even looking at my novel and actively trying not to think about it… which is much harder than it sounds. In the meantime, K.F. Goodacre has taken my book off my hands and is going to spend the next two months doing an initial edit for me. What a brave soul she is…

RavensTo distract myself, I’ve been catching up on some TV (Black Sails anyone?), reading 18th century books that aren’t mine (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee) and keeping myself away from computer screens as much as possible. A couple of weekends ago my work colleague and friend from Latvia visited, and we went to the Tower of London to see the ravens ♥ This weekend just gone, I pampered myself with various lotions and potions (‘Drops Of Light’ facial peel from The Body Shop), enjoyed the warm weather and spent quality time with my boyfriend and his family. Self-care and socialising was something I seriously neglected during the months of March and April, so it feels good to be connecting with myself and the world again.

I’ve also started outlining a novella about my character, Jonathan Carson, which I’m hoping will inform my writing for Book 2 and also serve as a nice way to blow off steam when I eventually get round to editing my book. It is an absolute monster of a novel, standing at well over 200,000 words. I need to get it down to somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 plus sort out the worldbuilding, plus tighten up the plot, plus build on certain characters, plus cut others completely, plus

What was that? Oh yes, sorry, I’m not meant to be thinking about this stuff at the moment.

Until next time, Lovelies x

Take care,

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 16: Question 13

YES, I KNOW I’M BEHIND. I’M SORRY.

This question’s answer is kind of a long one so though so… that kinda makes up for it, I guess…?

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

13. Your book is now a film. What will work well? What won’t?

Authors notoriously have little power when it comes to adaptions of their books. Cassandra Clare, for example, is occasionally forced to explain how she has absolutely noting to do with the (IMO) terrible adaptions of her work, and I’ve heard some real horror stories from people inside the industry about writers signing away their film rights without financial reimbursement (Cecily von Ziegesar, author of Gossip Girl; L.J. Smith, author of the Vampire Diaries… the latter doesn’t even own the rights to her own book series). As such, I shall begin this blog post with a public service announcement:

Should you ever be lucky enough to get a book signed for publication, take a lawyer in with you when you sign the contract!

Now that’s out of the way…

One of my Beta readers  remarked they could envision The Mayor as a BBC drama quite easily. At its heart The Mayor is essentially an 18th century period drama played out in a fantasy equivalent of the West Indies. Small, seemingly inconsequential actions have a tendency to ripple outwards to large and devastating effect, with a heavy emphasis on political dialogue and interpersonal relationships. That kind of story always works much better on the small screen than in the cinema, and although Part Two abandons the claustrophobic confines of New Hardway in favour of adventure on the high seas, I imagine the small screen is probably where The Mayor would end up should anyone be mad enough to try and adapt it.

So, what do I think would work well?

Costume

Blue CoatBeing an 18th century period drama — one of the prettiest and most extravagant eras in terms of European fashion — there’d be lots of opportunity for lavish, colourful costumes. Hair and make-up would have an absolute field-day with my protagonist Melora’s ringlets, and I’d love to see what wardrobe could produce for my villain’s beautiful blue coat.

My characters also encounter other cultures as they travel further up the map which might be fun to play with, such as the Kintaronese who favour light, loose clothing — shifts and kaftans, made from linen in rich turquoise blues — and adorn themselves with vast arrays of gold-plated jewellery (gold is considered common in Kintaro and thus even the poor dress themselves in this way; they even make their fishing hooks from it!).

Mise En Scene

I have written New Hardway is an aesthetically European town situated in a fantastical West Indies-equivalent known as the Taro Isles. A tropical coastline peppered with rainforests and tortugas, the bright and colourful Taro Isles would stand in direct contrast to New Hardway’s grand and austere architecture. There’s opportunity also to make it look the flora and fauna appear even more fantastical through the use of models or CGI, or both. Then there’s the tall ships, the shipping yard, the marketplace… I can see it all now…

Port Royal

Set pieces

As mentioned above, there’s quite a bit of swashbuckling in Part Two of The Mayor with naval battles, piratical pursuits and life-threatening storms… all of which I imagine would look pretty spectacular on the silver screen. Given even television’s dramatic improvement in recent years (see Game of Thrones, Outlander, Black Sails etc.), I imagine it’d look pretty good on the small screen too.

Sea battle

What won’t work well?

Sexual Content

I’d be very concerned with how TV/film might treat some of the sexual aspects of my book, particularly when it comes to sexual assault. Neither TV nor film have a particularly good history when it comes to depicting such things on screen (especially within an historical or fantastical context, of which my book is both), opting for soft-lightning, inexplicable titillation and absolutely zero consideration for the aftermath such a traumatic event might have. I’d want the filmmakers to give this subject some serious consideration and treat it with the sensitivity it deserves. If that means a fade to black or panning away from the whole thing completely, I’d really rather that than whatever the hell HBO did to poor Daenarys Targaryen (Game of Thrones) and Lucrezia Borgia (The Borgias).

Future filmmakers, take notes from Seasons 1 & 2 of Stars’ Outlander please, both in its depictions of consensual and non-consensual sex. Both, IMO, were excellently done.

My Deutragonist

I asked my writing partner her opinion on this question and the first thing she said was, “Jaspher.” When I asked her to elaborate as I didn’t quite understand, she answered:

“A lot of his appeal comes from how clear it is that he means no harm from his thought process. Take that away and you’ve only got his acts.”

Jaspher CarsonJaspher is a conflicted soul; an undiagnosed melancholic who spends an awful lot of time in his head, turning over endless “what if” scenarios and rationalising them away in his head. He is constantly putting others before himself, including my protagonist, Melora, whom he is helplessly in love with. He puts an enormous amount of pressure on himself to keep his family afloat, and would sooner work himself to an early grave than admit he needs help.

He’s a good man, with the very best and most honourable of intentions. Every choice he makes is clearly driven — in the text — by factors listed above, but he makes mistakes along the way.

And when I say mistakes, I mean serious mistakes.

Big Mistakes.

HUGE.

Without being privy to any of Jaspher’s internal monologue, the audience might perceive Jaspher to be something he isn’t: purposefully controlling, abusive and cowardly. It’s pretty clear from the text that it’s not as black and white as that, but a film might struggle to convey such a thing.

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 12: Questions 11 & 12

Blow me down, I’m all caught up! Don’t get used to it. I’m moving house next week (eek!).

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

11. Your favourite minor character

I spoke briefly about my true favourite minor character — Ada Lillith — in week 5, question 4 (click here). Today however, so as not to repeat myself,  I’m going to talk to you about Roger Bellamy instead.

Bellamy is a Judicial Officer working for the Town Magistrate, Renwick Jarvis. Described as having a “pinched, pockmarked face” with “beady-black eyes” and a “mirthless smile”, he can often be found sneering and smirking his way through some of The Mayor‘s legal scenes, making life thoroughly unpleasant and unnecessarily difficult for everyone else:

 

“Really, Mr Bellamy,” [Jaspher] said, placing the armadillo down in what he deemed a relatively safe spot; a bureau the officer had already searched. “I’m sure the Magistrate requires you to be thorough, but is it really necessary for you to ransack my office?”

“What’s going on?”

Jaspher turned to find Melora stood in the doorway, pale as a sheet, eyes wide as she absorbed the chaos in front of her.

“Nothing to concern yourself with, young lady.” Bellamy rattled the drawers of Jaspher’s desk, finding them locked. “You got another key for this, Master Carson? None of the ones I have here seem to fit.”

“This young lady is Miss Melora Winship to you, Sir,” said Jaspher feeling his face grow hot. “Mr Winship’s daughter. You should treat her with more respect.”

“I don’t care if she’s the bleeding Duchess of Waite,” said Bellamy, rolling his eyes. “Did you not hear what I just said? Open this drawer, Master Carson, or I’ll be forced to break it open.”

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

BeadleBellamy was most likely drawn to law enforcement because of the sense of power it gives him. He enjoys his ability to inflict state-sanctioned misery on others, and because he’s quite young — I personally imagine him to be in his late teens — he’s a bit self-conscious about his ability to command authority. He gets a kick out of domineering and humiliating others who are much older/more experienced than him.

Let’s be honest; we’ve all met and/or worked with someone like Bellamy in our life. He’s not my favourite minor character because of who he is as a person, but because he’s enormous fun to write with. He’s one of those characters I made up on the spot but found myself constantly referring back to to serve a particular purpose (law enforcement). He also tends to elicit extreme, outraged responses from my Beta readers. As a writer who simply loves creating misery amongst her readership, I absolutely lap this up:

  • “UGH, Bellamy.” – Oran Bailey, said 3 times over the course of a single feedback email.
  • “Hit him, John. HIT HIM.” – also Oran…
  • “”When [Bellamy] smiled at him with narrowed eyes, Jaspher felt his fists unwittingly clench.” Same, Jas. Same.” – Oran really hates Bellamy, OK?
  • “Officious twerp.” – Kim Goodacre.
  • “Arsehole.” – Cassandra Beckley.

Thus, Bellamy is my favourite minor character… after the wonderful Miss Lillith of course.

12. Language: Why a character speaks the way they do / unique slang

As far as creating fantasy languages are concerned, I’m about as far from J.R.R. Tolkein as you could possibly imagine. I’d much prefer to write something vague like, “the merchants began arguing in furious Dontaran” as opposed to spelling out actual words, because then I sound less like a linguistically-challenged fool.

Kintaro

I may, where appropriate, include a smattering of the Kintaronese language in the text as my characters travel further up the map, encountering more and more people from that area. Kintaronese typically consists of hard ‘cuh’ sounds combined with soft ‘ma’ and ‘shh’ sounds e.g. “hakirsh” means “hello” (which shortens to “hash” for ‘hi’), “pir” means “bread” (specifically a loaf), “maru” means “ship”… and so on and so forth.

I have yet to even think about what the language of Dontaro sounds like, so I guess I’ll get back to you on that one.

As for why a particular character speaks the way they do…

Technically speaking, although I write in English (I’m from South-East London), my characters are actually speaking a language called Swordish, native to the Kingdom of Sword. I’m not a fan of writing out accents (think Joseph in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights; I think this can come across as offensive as it implies the character isn’t speaking ‘normally’), but I do actively try and put inflections on the way characters speak or choose certain words in order to convey an idea of how they sound.

Mayor Roper and Melora’s father Craven — in my head — both have an extremely ‘plummy’ accents. This is because they hail from the educated upper classes; the Swordish equivalent of RP English. I refrain from using contractions when writing with these two and occasionally use old-fashioned exclamations if I want to lay it on thick such as “jolly good”, “I say”, “splendid” etc. It’s worth noting William Kale also speaks with this accent, though he will occasionally slip…

The Carsons meanwhile are very much lower-middle class, so their accents are closer to the Swordish equivalent of Estuary English. As mentioned last week, John and Jaspher’s father Jeremiah was originally a sailor who married into a wealthy family, so he had to change the way he spoke in order to be taken more seriously (get a drink inside him and his accent immediately starts to broaden).

Jonathan CarsonJohn is probably my most interesting character in terms of language and speech patterns. Raised a gentlemen, but working as a sailor, his accent is very much on the lower-end of the ‘Estuary’ spectrum. It’s not quite Cockney (that’s the reserve of working-class characters like Liz e.g. “That was a nice thing what you did, even if it don’t change nothing”) but close enough that he’s sometimes looked down on for the way he speaks. He’s instantly marked out as ‘lesser’ by New Hardway’s elite (the clientele of his father’s shipbuilding firm), whilst simultaneously being mocked for being too ‘posh’ by his peers. As such, he doesn’t really fit in anywhere; it’s something he’s painfully aware of.

I probably work the hardest on John’s speech patterns because they’re the most fun to play with, making heavy use of contractions and 18th century thieves cant. He’ll slide instantly from being devastatingly articulate (“It’s a wonder you’re able to sit so straight when I’ve yet to see any evidence you possess a spine”) to colourful, brazen and broad by the end of the scene (“Vapouring, swaggering spineless fucking bastard!”).

John’s accent rubs off on Melora too. She’s much, much freer with her speech when she’s hanging around John than she is with her father or Jaspher.

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 9: Questions 7 & 8

Yes, I’m massively behind. WHAT OF IT? You’re not the boss of me. Don’t tell me what to do.

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

7. Favourite relationship in the story

Telling you my actual favourite relationship (which, incidentally, is a romantic one) would be spoilerific, so today I’m going to talk to you about a non-spoilery relationship instead:

My favourite relationship to write in Book One of The Mayor is the sibling relationship between Jaspher and Jonathan Carson.

As brothers, Jaspher and John could not be more different. Jaspher is calm, level-headed and responsible, taking it upon himself to keep the Carson family afloat despite some serious financial difficulties and his father’s rapidly developing illness. John meanwhile is a notorious libertine, fond of wine, women and song with a penchant for attracting trouble.

In some ways, the two brothers perfectly embody their father, Jeremiah Carson, who is an ex-sailor turned shipwright. Despite his working class background, Jeremiah Carson rose to become a wealthy and successful entrepreneur in New Hardway, and is now a respected member of society. Jaspher seeks to uphold his father’s legacy by following in his footsteps as a shipwright. Unfortunately for Jaspher, John is far more interested in sailing ships than building them, and shamelessly engages in activities one might typically associate with that profession such as drinking, smoking and gambling.

John’s carefree, hedonistic lifestyle is a constant source of embarrassment for Jaspher. His peers make snide and insidious remarks regarding his brother’s behaviour and use it to undermine his authority. Being an ex-sailor himself (and for other, slightly more upsetting reasons), Jeremiah Carson prefers to turn a blind eye, but Jaspher refuses to let things slide. He will often step in as disciplinarian, which naturally causes a lot of tension between the two. This is fun to write.

What I like most about Jaspher and John’s relatonship is the complete juxtaposition between how much they love each other — how they’d do absolutely anything to protect each other — versus their complete inability to see eye to eye. Their relationship is fraught with jealousy and misunderstandings; the inevitable result of conflicting ideologies. As the plot of The Mayor progresses and pressure upon the Carson family mounts, Jaspher and John’s relationship will be tested to its absolute limit.

Fun!

7. Alternative realities: what could have changed everything, and how?

The obvious answer to this question would be, “What if William Kale had never come to New Hardway?” Because there’d be no plot, essentially, and everyone would be a lot happier and be able to get on with their lives.

How boring.

No, there’s actually a moment I can specifically pinpoint as being pivotal. It could have changed potentially everything, and I know this because I actually wrote it out and had to do away with it immediately for the sake of progressing the plot.

~*~ Warning! Minor spoilers to follow – I’ve redacted most of them but you never know… ~*~

In the scene before this one, Jaspher and Melora have a huge, relationship-altering fight. When I originally wrote it, Melora managed to catch up to Jaspher and apologise to him:

“Jaspher, wait,” Melora hurried down the stairs. “About last night, I… I just wanted to say I’m sorry.”

“Sorry?” Jaspher frowned, sounding as nonplussed as he looked. “Whatever for?”

“For how I reacted [REDACTED BECAUSE SPOILERS].”

She swallowed, tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth. Seeing him flush red at the reminder of his shame, she ploughed on before he could interrupt her.

“I… I was angry and upset. I lashed out because of it. After you’d gone, I had some time to think about what you said — why you did what you did — and I realised… you were only doing what you thought was best for your family. [REDACTED, FIGHT ME] And I don’t know if what John said about Mr Kale is true, but if it is true, Jaspher, then you need to be careful, because we don’t know what else he’s capable of, and we’ve lost so much already [FIGHT ME SOME MORE].

She felt rather than saw the tension ease in him as her voice trailed off. She stiffened as he pulled her to him in a gentle, one-armed embrace, then relaxed as he released her.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” he said, slipping his hand into hers. “I’m sorry. I swear to you, I’ve never regretted anything more in my entire life. If I could wind back the clock and refuse to sign those damned papers, I would do it. I’d do it in a heartbeat. But it’s done now, and we’ll have to find a way to work through it. Somehow.”

He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, and she nodded, forcing a smile to her lips. It warmed her heart to see that smile returned, just the barest flickering at the corner of his mouth.

“But now I really, really must go. We’ll talk about this later, all right?” He kissed the backs of her fingers. “I promise.”

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

Aww, isn’t that nice? Communication! Resolution! A willingness to understand each other and make things right!

Well I’m sorry, but we can’t have that. For the sake of the plot, I needed to carry on driving as big a wedge between these two as possible, so I ended up swapping the above out for this:

“Jaspher, wait,” Melora descended the stairs, reaching out as he yanked open the front door. “About last night… I just wanted to say that I’m—”

The door swung shut just as she reached the bottom, obscuring him from view.

“—sorry…”

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

… Shame.

S.E. Berrow