I feel huge gratitude for all of your comments and encouragement. The Three Ingredients is the second storyline we’ve done in this “interactive” format. For new reader-friends, I call it interactive because the story is moved forward by the inspiration I get from the “ingredients” (things) you send. The story is un-plotted, “panster” fun — because of you!
We started this interactive format with the previous serial, The Three Things. There you gave me three random things to drive the story. That allowed the “things” to directly drive every aspect of the plot, setting, and even the characters.
When The Three Things concluded, I asked you readers for input on what sort of story you wanted next, and I settled on our current “culinary mystery” theme. So this time, we have The Three Ingredients, with food-related interactive offerings from readers. However, that means the “things” you send have a less direct impact on the tale, but they still guide and inspire everything about the story.
That said, I can’t be sure how close we are to concluding this particular storyline. However, I can see it somewhere on the horizon of my writing crystal ball. So I’m offering up a pictorial review of the characters your ingredients inspired.
Often I write stories, intentionally leaving part of the physical descriptions of characters vague. I do that because I want the reader to supply part of what they want the character to be for things like race. The last thing I want is for someone to fail to identify with a character just because of how I happened to imagine their appearance. That is something I very intentionally did in writing Atonement Tennessee. With the setting of a small (and Twilight Zone-ish strange) town, I wanted it to fit with anybody’s idea of that kind of place. I described hair color to help identify and differentiate characters, but I deliberately left most of the rest up to the reader.
With that disclaimer out of the way, I’m sharing with you some images that either directly inspired, or later came to represent the various characters to my imagination because I realize illustrations are helpful to many readers. If your mind supplied a different look for a character, I hope you will keep your idea.
I have omitted a few characters with especially small “walk on” parts. However, I hope I’ve developed a bit of personality even in those. Just so they don’t get left out… in alphabetical order:
- Cotton the Poodle
- Eunice of Eunice’s Uniforms
- Godfrey Gilley of Gilley’s Groceries
- Hortense Houston, the Kingston housekeeper
- Alastair Wong the elder, an old flame of Granny’s
Now, I hope you’ll enjoy this review of the characters that developed from the ingredients you’ve sent.
Cast of Characters
The Three Things gave us Pip (Paisley Idelle Peabody) the narrator of both storylines. I was so fond of Pip, a flapper and aspiring “modern woman,” that I kept her around for The Three Ingredients. I added her grandmother, Granny Fanny, and the fledgling catering business so that we could have the culinary mystery theme. The rest of the story is inspired by your ingredients.
The moment I stumbled upon a photo of a very young Lucille Ball, I imagined the voice of grown-up Lucy as Pip, telling the stories of her youth.
Fanny Idelle Peabody. The ingredients haven’t given me the opportunity to go there, but Granny is actually a “Pip” too. Her given name was Phanny Idelle, and when she married into the Peabody family her initials became P.I.P. However, everyone kept spelling her name with an “F” and she eventually went with the flow. (Granny would like the phrase “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” She didn’t mind the misspelling that much.)
Writing this post put me on a mission to find a picture that I thought of as Granny Fanny. I had a vague image of her in my mind, a woman with delicate features, but a backbone of steel. However, the photo that resonated with me looked different from my initial mental image. In pictures of Margaret Sanger, I saw Granny’s kind heartedness, firm resolve, and spunk.
From this point, I’ve listed the characters in order of their appearance in the story.
The very first ingredient (geoduck in Episode-1) was the inspiration for Alastair Wong. The Wongs immigrated to the United States from England, and Alastair has a faint British accent. Neither he nor his parents had ever been to China, though they dreamed of visiting and faithfully passed down family recipes used at Wong’s Chinese, their restaurant. Alastair is a talented businessman and chef.
I have a small crush on Alastair, so his prolonged absence from the serial should show you that it really is guided by your ingredients. :o)
I think a vintage photo of Sessue Hayakawa could be Alastair — if I could find one of him in a less somber, brooding mood. Alastair certainly has a serious side but he also has a beautiful, ready smile.
Alastair’s mother, Arabella also appeared in Episode-1 and she is mentioned a few times afterward. However, the ingredients haven’t led to a larger part for her… At least they haven’t yet. Only the ingredients can say!
A vintage Vogue magazine cover made me think of Arabella’s graceful elegance, though there has been little opportunity to describe her.
The Binghamton brothers are actually “walk on” parts. However, at the moment, I’m not sure where the ingredients might take them. So I’ve included them, just in case.
Byron is the owner of the Bijou theatre (Episode 1). That setting is where our storyline began, when “the dead man” was found. Bradley Binghamton, Byron’s lookalike brother is seen much later (Episode 22). They have been minor characters, but might be necessary to the story just the same. Something tells me that there might be some sadness in the history of the brothers, and this shot of David Niven in “The Bishop’s Wife” could be either of the lookalike brothers.
Jack Daddy was a minor character who was fundamental to the storyline. His nickname was Cracker Jack because he was a skilled safecracker and a mobster. But he must not have been 100% bad if he was Cracker the Parrot’s “daddy.” He entered the story in Episode-1, but we didn’t identify him until Episode-9.
When I received “cinnamon” as an ingredient for Episode-3, we got Cinnamon Bun, a Flemish Giant Rabbit with reddish fur. The veterinarian, Vincent Vale gave him to Granny Fanny. She adores the oversized bunny, and so does Cracker the Parrot, who often brings Cinnamon Bun treats.
Episode-3 also introduced Detective Dabney Daniels of Savannah’s finest. The moment I saw a vintage ad for Arrow shirts, I had an image for Dabney. He has known Granny Fanny for some time, and helps her with heavier work around her cottage. Dabney seems to take an interest in Pip, letting her ride along for part of the murder investigation and work at cataloguing evidence. Is Granny trying to push the two together?
Detective Daniels has been patient with Cracker, even thought the parrot bit his ear. He shows concern for Granny, and for his fellow law enforcement officers. Though he seems emotionally distant to Pip’s way of thinking.
Vincent seems like a gentle soul. He rescued both Cinnamon Bun and later Cracker. Together, he and his wife Veronica built an impressive medical facility for animals of all types. Who else would I imagine as Vincent Vale but “All Creatures Great and Small” actor, Christopher Timothy.
The ingredients for Episode-4 included “graham cracker” and of course that gave us Cracker the parrot. Granny Fanny resisted liking that “nasty bird” for quite a while. But Cracker’s unexpected devotion to the injured Marshal Moses Myrick won Granny over.
Cracker is a most unusual and clever bird. The one thing we can expect from this parrot is the unexpected. Cracker learned many things related to the various mysteries in this storyline through her association with Cracker Jack Daddy, her late owner. When Vincent Vale examined her, he said Cracker was about 40 years old, so we can only guess at the scope of the parrot’s life experiences.
She definitely has opinions about the humans in the story. Cracker took a dislike to Dabney Daniels, perhaps associating him with the death of her “daddy.” But she loved Moses Myrick and the rabbit, Cinnamon Bun from the very start. It took her a while to win Granny Fanny’s affection, but she did. Cracker seems to like Pip and the poodle, Cotton. And she at least tolerates Hank Hertz. However she shakes her foot as an expression for her disdain of “The Joker.”
Episode-6 brought us the wife of Vincent Vale. Mrs. Veronica Vale is an accomplished medical doctor and surgeon who has traveled widely. She is the most accomplished woman Pip has ever met. At Pip’s determination to be a “modern woman” Granny introduced her to “the real deal.” Veronica’s intelligence is matched by her good nature and sense of humor. Both the doctors Vale are caring, generous people.
She performed emergency surgery on Marshal Myrick after he was ambushed by the bootleggers. Vincent is a veterinarian, rather than a “people doctor” but he proved his skill too during the operation. Granny revealed yet another skill, acting as surgical nurse.
Marshal Moses Myrick
One of the ingredients for Episode-8 was “peas”… and we got Moses Myrick. Pip was distrustful when she unexpectedly learned that he’d known her grandmother for a long time, and apparently quite well. So her first reaction to Marshal Myrick was less than positive, “He was very polite and all, but I couldn’t help thinking what beady little eyes he had. Green eyes… like little peas!”
I saw an ad for a vintage detective story, and thought the man could easily be Moses Myrick. He wins Pip over, and Cracker likes him right away. He seems to have an affinity for the parrot… and a history with Granny Fanny.
The Queen of Clubs is introduced in Episode-12. I was looking for a vintage queen of clubs card, when I found celebrity playing cards. Guess whose picture was on the queen of clubs? Joan Crawford. From that moment, there was no other choice for Queenie Wetson.
As of this writing, Queenie has not showed up in person, but I’m pretty sure she will soon!
When we came to Episode-13, I faced a challenge. I try not to put restrictions on your ingredients, but one of the items was microwave. I knew it was meant as the microwave ovens we use today, but as I suspected, my research showed they had not been invented in the 1920’s. However, scientists had long known about microwaves. That gave us a new character, Hank Hertz.
Our Hank is the fictional grandson of Heinrich Hertz, who proved the existence of radio waves back in the late 1880s. So the “microwave” ingredient gave us Hank, who is a wizard with the police radio. It also led to more layers in the mystery — Since the gangsters were using open radio transmissions (microwave brought us to radio waves) they used code names.
As I visualized Savannah’s youngest policeman I thought of a TV actor who could easily play Hank — a slightly younger version of Hugo Johnstone-Burt who played Hugh Collins on “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”
In a planned (or technically correct) story I would not add new players so late in the tale. However, Episode-21 unexpectedly led me to new characters — including Daisy. Also called The Dainty Dish, Daisy was the second Mrs. Henry Kingston. Her story was a local legend, according to which she was given to him as a payment for a gambling debt, but Kingston fell madly in love with her. Daisy died mysteriously.
Pip also met a young woman named Daisy at Eunice’s Uniforms. However, at this writing, we shouldn’t get into that. Besides, who can say where the ingredients will lead?
The domineering major domo was also introduced in Episode-21. At first I saw him as a stodgy old man… but then the ingredients suggested that he could be an interesting complication to the story. That’s also when his name came along. Maybe his name, Farceur, is significant, or maybe it’s a red herring — only the ingredients know for sure!
For a moment he had been a nameless butler. When a classic anime character pinged into my mind, I indulged myself with the image of “Black Butler” Sebastian Michaelis. How could I resist?
Keep sending ingredients, please.
I don’t think the “ingredients” all of you supply will lead to any more new characters this far into the storyline… but only the ingredients know for sure!
Please continue to leave ingredients for future episodes. Even when this storyline concludes, there will be another “interactive” serial.
I hope you’ll keep dropping in to visit, read, and comment.
Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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