The Characters, Murder at the Bijou

It’s hump day and I needed a boost to get me through the rest of the week.  I avoid midweek posts, but I thought this might give me the lift I need.  When this song popped into my head (again) I knew I had to share.  Because I’m getting ready, ready, ready for the takeoff!  What I mean is the launch of Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.

It’s a Roaring Twenties culinary mystery.  It was spontaneously written as a “pantser” serial here at this blog.  Everything, event, and character in the story was inspired by things or ingredients the readers of this blog sent.  Now, as I’m closer and closer to takeoff I wanted to show you my concept of the characters.

Studebaker blue 1920s

Cast of Characters

PipBlue Lucille Ball Stage Door Trailer


The Three Things
gave us Pip (Paisley Idelle Peabody), the narrator of both story-lines. 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 Phanny, 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.

Granny Phanny

Margaret Sanger as GrannyPhanny Irene Peabody.  Granny is actually a “Pip” too.  Her given name was Phanny Irene, and when she married into the Peabody family her initials became P.I.P.  

I never found a photo that seemed like Phanny to me.  I only had a vague image of her in my mind, a woman with delicate features, but a backbone of steel. However, in a photo 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.

Alastair Wong

Sessue_Hayakawa_as AlastairThe very first ingredient (geoduck) 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.

Long time followers of this blog will recall that there are two Alastair Wongs.  The first one  you meet is the younger. Later, in Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, you meet his grandfather, Alastair Wong the elder.

I had a small crush on Alastair, so his prolonged absence during 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.

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Arabella Wong1920s Vogue red hat

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.

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Byron and/or Bradley BinghamtonNiven as Binghamton

The Binghamton brothers are actually “walk on” parts.  However, when I started looking for character images, I wasn’t sure where the ingredients might take them. So I’ve included them anyway.

Byron is the owner of the Bijou Theatre. That setting is where our storyline began, when “the dead man” was found.  Bradley Binghamton, Byron’s lookalike brother is seen much later.  They were minor characters, but 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.

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Cracker Jack DaddySpeakeasy_Stories-July

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.  Maybe he was not 100% bad if he was Cracker the Parrot’s “daddy.”  However, I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.

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vintage bunnyCinnamon Bun

When I received “cinnamon” as an ingredient we got Cinnamon Bun, a Flemish Giant Rabbit with reddish fur.  You recently saw his back-story in the vignette, Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit.  The veterinarian, Vincent Vale gave him to Granny Phanny. She adores the oversized bunny, and so does Cracker the Parrot, who often brings Cinnamon Bun treats.

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Dabney Daniels

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adWe also meet 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 cataloging 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 Vale

Christopher Timothy as Vincent ValeOur veterinarian is Vincent Vale.  He has broad knowledge and training for a veterinarian of that era, including acupuncture.

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.

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Cracker

Parrot in flightThe ingredients included “graham cracker” and of course that gave us Cracker the parrot.  Granny Phanny 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 Phanny’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.”

Veronica Vale

1920s woman scientist-microscopeThe pantser writing of this serial also 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

Barrie Craig adventuresOne of the ingredients was “peas”… and we got Moses Myrick.  Go figure, right?  That’s just how my brain works. 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.

Queenie WetsonJoan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

The Queen of Clubs is introduced halfway into the story.  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.

Hank Hertz

Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-BurtA reader wasn’t thinking when leaving ingredients for me. 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.”

Daisyvintage queen of the may

In a planned (or technically correct) story I would not add new players so late in the tale.  However, the spontaneity 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. Her story line continued into the next serial.

Mr. Farceur

The domineering major domo was also introduced late in the story.  At first I saw him as a stodgy old Black Butler 2man… 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, faceless 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?

***

So there you have it — most of the characters for the soon to be “book-ized” Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.  Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Wednesday!

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

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Character Interview: Ralda Lawton — Features from Atonement, TN

veil_of_sky_open_1 copy

Available in paperback, Nook, and Kindle

Welcome to Atonement, TN everyone.

I’m giving myself a break this weekend and doing a rerun.

But first… I’m revising this post. I wanted to share something new with you, even though it has little to do with this post.  Monarch butterflies.

The butterfly is a symbol of transformation. One thing for which people who analyze books look is growth or transformation in characters. One particular character in Atonement, Tennessee changes, but that would be a spoiler, so I won’t go there. However, the heroine begins to grow, maybe even spread her butterfly wings.  Yet as in real life transformations are not always successful.

Now that I’ve tied it to this post, here’s something lovely that Google brought to my attention; a news article and a video.

What Is the Mountain of Butterflies?”

Now, back to my re-run!

This character interview was also posted two years ago.  I had just released my debut novel, Atonement, Tennessee.  

I’m delighted that many of you have been with “Teagan’s Books” that long.  For those of you who are newer, I hope you will enjoy this interview with the main character.

Character Interviews:  Ralda Lawton

Teagan:  Welcome Ralda.  Thanks for stepping outside of Atonement, Tennessee for this interview.  Forgive me if I’m not great at this – I’ve never interviewed one of my characters before.  Help me avoid giving any spoilers in this!  (I laugh.)

Ralda:  That’s no problem.  I already know that you used assorted bits of yourself not just for me, but for all the women characters in Atonement.

Teagan:  Yes, that was the only way I could write an entire novel in thirty days – for the 2012 National Novel Writing Month.  However, you are your own woman.  You’re not my alter ego, even if there is a good bit of me in your character.  But this interview is about you, not me.  So, are you really a small town girl at heart?Ralda-in-car_dreamstime_xs_28934268

Ralda:  I should have known you wouldn’t let me get away with controlling the interview.  (She jokes.)  Not exactly.  I’m more of a city girl who prefers small towns.  I don’t think that’s quite the same thing.  Despite all the crazy things that have happened since I moved to Atonement, TN, I like the town and the people.  There is always more to the people than I expect.  Plus I feel like it’s the kind of place where I never know what might happen.  I mean, it’s interesting.

Teagan:  What do you think about Gwydion?

hero-position-6468259Ralda:  Ugh!  I knew that was coming.  I try not to think about him – or Cael for that matter.  Gwydion is undeniably handsome and charming, and sometimes I admit that I’m attracted to him.  But…

Teagan:  But you don’t trust him? 

Ralda:  (She sighs and slouches back against her chair.)  I’m not a trusting soul.  When I ask him a question… it’s not that I think he’s lying.  But I always feel like he’s leaving out something; like I’m hearing a partial truth.  So how could I trust him?  Besides that, it seems like odd little things happen when he’s around.  I don’t know how to explain that, but it doesn’t help me trust him.Gate Ajar Night

Teagan:  Speaking of souls…I understand your new home has a cemetery.  (She shakes her head as if she can’t believe that herself.)  How do you feel about having a graveyard on your property?  Also, is one of the graves that of your ancestress?

Ralda:  I admit it was a creepy idea at first.  But I was so drawn to the house, Sunhold, that I tried not to think about the cemetery.  I sort of ignored the fact that it was part of my new home.

Teagan:  I’ve noticed that seems to be how you handle things that bother you – deciding not to think about them.  (She looks at me archly, but then sheepishly.)  I’m sorry – please continue.

Ralda:  I realize that – thinking about something later, is not one of the traits I get from you.  Don’t even try to figure it out.  It’s old baggage.  Like I said, at first I thought having my own cemetery was creepy, and right off the bat I had a frightening experience there.  However, I quickly came to feel protective of the old place.  It was overgrown, and unthreatening.  It has a certain kind of beauty.  It seems contemplative, peaceful, and oddly vulnerable.  There is something special about that old cemetery.Lilith standing on stone

As you know, Ralda is a nickname I chose.  My given name is Esmeralda.  One tombstone in the old cemetery has the name Esmeralda Gwynedd.  My friend and neighbor, Bethany, is absolutely determined that it is an ancestress of mine.  We’ll have to see how that plays out.  You said not to give any spoilers.

Teagan:  True.  With spoilers in mind, maybe we should leave it at that.  At least for now.  Thanks Ralda.  I know you’d much rather be in Atonement, TN than in DC talking to me.

Atonement, Tennessee is available in the following formats:

 

Three Ingredients: Character Recap

Hello friends — old, new, and as yet unmet! Welcome to this character recap of the Three Ingredients serialDog-Cat-Cooking_dreamstime_s_24255835

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.Grannys teacup

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.

veil_of_sky_open_1 copyOften 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

Pip

Young Lucy as PipThe 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.

Granny Fanny

Margaret Sanger as GrannyFanny 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.

Alastair Wong

Sessue_Hayakawa_as AlastairThe 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.

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Arabella Wong1920s Vogue red hat

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.

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Byron and/or Bradley BinghamtonNiven as Binghamton

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.

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Cracker Jack DaddySpeakeasy_Stories-July

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.

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vintage bunnyCinnamon Bun

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.

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Dabney Daniels

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adEpisode-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 Vale

Christopher Timothy as Vincent ValeEpisode-3 also mentioned our veterinarian, but Vincent Vale didn’t appear until the next episode.  He has broad knowledge and training for a veterinarian of that era, including acupuncture.

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.

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Cracker

Parrot in flightThe 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.”

Veronica Vale

1920s woman scientist-microscopeEpisode-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

Barrie Craig adventuresOne 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.

 

Queenie WetsonJoan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

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!

Hank Hertz

Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-BurtWhen 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.”

Daisyvintage queen of the may

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?

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Mr. Farceur

The domineering major domo was also introduced in Episode-21.  At first I saw him as a stodgy old Black Butler 2man… 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.

Hugs,

teagan

 ***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

 

 

 

 

Calico Calamity an Atonement Excerpt

Lilith and mirrorI blogged this snippet a while back — before the release of my novel, “Atonement, Tennessee.” Now that the paperback and e-book editions are available, I’m sharing it as a mid-week post for those who might have missed it. This excerpt, this calico calamity, leads the heroine of “Atonement, Tennessee” into a tense situation.  Lilith the cat has a knack for finding those.  Here Ralda Lawton has a strange encounter when her capricious cat gets outside.

Scroll down and enjoy,

teagan

Calico Calamity an “Atonement Tennessee” Excerpt

…I was sheltered by a big clump of tall bushes of some sort.  I thought it might be mountain laurel.  I could see the broad side of the mausoleum from there.  Shadows lurched violently against the stone crypt.  Big shadows.  Reflexively I drew back into the concealing vegetation.  Then I heard a loud avian-like screech and realized that the shadow shapes might have been wings.  My heart hammered.black_eagle_with_open_wings_design-t1

The noise escalated.  It definitely sounded like more than one creature was causing that ruckus.  Then I heard the cat hiss.  I ran toward the sounds; ready to use the flashlight as a club, and wishing I had something more effective.  “Lilith!” I called.  Oh, let’s face it – I screamed.

As I ran out form the concealing mountain laurel a gust of wind buffeted me.  I tripped and fell on the uneven pavers of the path, just as the wind blew my hair, along with some dirt, into my eyes.  I couldn’t see at all for a moment, but I heard a lot of heavy rustling, scraping, shifting sounds.

Every time I thought I had half way cleared my eyes, the wind blew something into them again.  I struggled to my feet, desperately wiping my stinging eyes.  I heard soft footsteps coming toward me.

AdrianPaul_Highlander1“Are you hurt?” he asked.

With an electric jump I gasped.  The calm kindness of the words did nothing to ease the added fear of knowing there was a person there.  A stranger.  In the dark.  In the graveyard.  I was pretty sure it was a large man too.

However, in the way of a panicked brain, I thought of the irrelevant – I couldn’t begin to place his accent, but he certainly had one…  I could still barely see, and couldn’t gauge how much of a threat he might be.  The night had also gotten cloudy, and therefore darker.  If I thought my heart was beating hard before, it was about to explode by then.

“Here,” he said mildly, putting a silk handkerchief into my hand, and taking my elbow to help me stand.

No doubt I should have run, coming upon a scene that seemed violent, running into a stranger in the dark isolated spot.  But his voice was gentle and comforting.  Besides, he already had my arm in a firm grip, so I wouldn’t be going anywhere if he was a criminal or psycho or something.  Shaking with reaction, I used the handkerchief to wipe my eyes.calico closeup pinterest

I looked up at him.  He was tall and well built.  Rudely I pointed the flashlight on him, but I tried not to shine it directly in his eyes.  I just needed to see him, that stranger there in the dark, so I wouldn’t panic.  Then I realized he held something in the hand that wasn’t holding my elbow.  I heard loud purring.

“Lilith?” I cried.  “I don’t know how she’s been getting out.  I was so worried,” I babbled and tried not to give in to tears.  “What was all that commotion?”

Thankfully, he knew what I meant, and handed my cat to me.  “A very large bird,” he said after a minute hesitation.

For some reason, I felt like he wasn’t being truthful, but Lilith was still purring.  Did that mean this man was okay; that he was not a threat?  She had let him hold her, and purred rather than try to get free.  Usually the cat didn’t even like for me to hold her.

Considering the shadows I saw, and the sounds I heard, I couldn’t disagree with his explanation of a bird – but how large would it have to have been?  Wouldn’t it have to be enormous?  It seemed impossible, but I had seen the shadows, heard the screeching, and felt the wind from its passing.

Perhaps sensing my doubt, he went on to explain, “I’ve been watching it ever since I moved into the house.  It only comes out at night, so I haven’t seen it clearly.”

owl pinterest“Where did you come from?  I mean, how did you get here?” I asked, realizing that I still wasn’t making a lot of sense.

“Pardon me,” he said in a gracious voice, seeming to understand my rattled state.  “I came in at the eastern gate,” he turned and pointed gracefully as he spoke.

“From there I have been observing the large bird.  This night I decided to try to get closer, for a better look.  Apparently the kitty had similar ideas.  Since she is clearly your cat, are you the owner of this place?  If so, then we are neighbors of a sort.  I live across the road from the eastern gate.”

He paused and I felt his intent gaze on me.  I shifted nervously.  That was definitely a foreign accent.  The words he chose were unusual.  The accent was more apparent on some words, especially the way he said “kitty.”  However, I couldn’t place it.  How would such a person wind up in a tiny town like Atonement, Tennessee?

“Thank you for getting Lilith.  I’m Esmeralda Lawton,” I said, and immediately wondered why I had used my given name.  It was something I rarely did.

“Thank you,” he said in a way that made it seem like I had given him something beyond my name.  It also seemed strange that he should thank me like that in this situation.Nicole Kidman as Ralda-1

“I am called Cael Adriel.  Would it be an imposition if I continue to observe the bird?  As I said, it seems to only come out at night.  I have not seen it anywhere else,” he requested with a note of childlike excitement.

It seemed like such an odd thing to want to do… but who could say with birdwatchers from unknown countries.  Maybe wherever he came from, hanging out in cemeteries at night, watching oversized birds wasn’t unusual.  I shushed the sarcastic part of my head that said that.

He seemed like such a little kid about it, all innocence and fascination, yet all wrapped up in an exterior of big scary sexy.  It took a moment for me to find my voice.  I realized I was staring at him.  I cleared my throat and said, “I um, I don’t suppose it would.  Be an imposition, that is.”

He smiled and inclined his head.  “You have my gratitude.  I believe the,” he hesitated fractionally, “the bird has gone.  I don’t believe it will bother you tonight.  However, I will see you home if you like?” he made the statement a question.

“I don’t think you need to do that,” I said, feeling very uncomfortable and distrustful, and something else that I wasn’t ready to define.  “But I appreciate the offer.  It’s very kind of you,” I added.

Black wingedWhere was the strong intuition that I had come to rely on when meeting new people?  Apparently it was off somewhere being unreliable.  In any case, it wouldn’t do to be rude, not to a new neighbor.  I wished him a good night in as pleasant and unconcerned of a voice as I could manage.  Then I turned to go back to the house.

I walked a few feet away and looked back over my shoulder.  He was still standing there, as still as any of the cemetery statuary.  I gave a little nervous wave, and kept walking.  When I thought I was out of his sight, I walked faster and faster.  I didn’t exactly feel threatened by him.  It was just that the entire situation had been frightening, and I was a little rattled.

I let myself in the backdoor, and slumped against the kitchen wall, still holding the cat.  I told myself to stop shaking.

 ***

veil_of_sky_open_1 copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Copyright © 2012 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

 http://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM

Three Things and Recurring Characters

Many of you have heard me talk about my “Three Things” writing exercise, but let me explain it for those who have not. Many years ago I developed the exercise as a way to keep me writing. I wasn’t working on any novel at that time. This exercise lends itself to any form of writing, but it’s particularly fun for fiction.

Old Chevy Highway My rules for the “Three Things” are that you find three random things and write until you’ve mentioned all of them. The more haphazard the things, the better – it makes your mind reach further. For instance, if you had road, Chevrolet, and sunset, you don’t have to work very hard to write until you’ve mentioned those things. You have probably already thought of a single sentence that includes all of them. Haven’t you? I like to let mine take form as part of a story. It might be the beginning, middle, or end. However, the point is to write as much as you can, whatever you’re writing.

It can be oddly difficult to keep coming up with things that are truly random on your own. I like to ask my friends to send them to me. I also keep a big jar filled with little scraps of paper, each of which as a thing written on it. Sometimes I flip through TV channels jotting the first thing I see on a station. (It’s remarkable how much alike they all appear when you’re looking it from that point of view.)

When I first created this exercise, every day I asked a friend to give me my three things. He was good at throwing me disconnected things. When he saw that I was paying attention to my writing, rather than to him, he started trying to stump me with increasingly absurd things. Unfortunately for him, that’s when it really got fun! Rather than doing separate exercises each day, I strung the daily Three Things together and created a crazy, fun little mystery story. Where the story went was entirely dependent on the random words of the day. I’m sad that I lost that tale, along with several others… but that’s another story.

Reading articles from other writers I’ve found that I’m not alone in one phenomenon – recurring characters. Before I started writing “The Dead of Winter,” I had gone back to the “Three Things” exercise. I found that every now and then, the handful of unplanned words brought up a young girl who lives in a small desert town. Her name is Harley. Here is one of her “Three Things.”

(Anna’s Heir, do these sound familiar?  I think you may have sent them to me back when.)

***

 Jambalaya, 1950s, Mom and pop business

Despite her best efforts to be on time that morning, Harley had missed the bus. Her mom was always pissed if she had to take her to school. Harley understood that it meant taking time away from the morning rush at the little mom and pop business her mother ran. Harley sighed, aggravated at herself. She wasn’t late on purpose, she just couldn’t seem to help it.

She kicked a rock on the dusty road as she walked home from the bus stop. A gust of wind sent a tumbleweed rolling past. Harley watched as it bounced toward town and wondered if the tumbleweed would run the single traffic light. Would sheriff Carson write it a ticket? The idea made her laugh for the first time that day… maybe for the first time that week. She chuckled as she headed up the gravel drive to the house where she lived with her mother, and sometimes with her older brother – when he was in town. It was a 1950s rambler. Between the three of them, they managed to keep it in good repair.

She took a large plastic bowl of Jambalaya out of the freezer so it could begin to thaw before dinner time. That might improve her mom’s mood – something from “back home,” where she had spent her girlhood. Harley knew the aroma of Cajun cooking always made her mom happy.

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

Brain-NamesWhat do you think about names – generally?  Or do you think about them? Most people don’t.  I however, could really enjoy a big metaphysical discussion about names, but that’s not where I’m headed here.  When I started this blog, I promised myself I’d stick to things related to writing or my books.

Names are incredibly important in life and in fiction.  The names of my pets were something I chose very carefully, to suit them.

I’m just as meticulous in choosing the names of my characters.  The right name can pull you into the mystery of the story, or lend a dramatic tone.  When I write a classic type of fantasy, I go all out – researching name meanings and origins, and making sure they fit the traits of the character.

For stories located in the real world (fantasy or not), such as Atonement, Tennessee, I don’t always go to such lengths.  Even so, each name speaks strongly to me about the who, what, and where of the character.  Right now, I’m showing installments of my novel The Guitar Mancer at my blog. The name-meaning of the heroine is carefully interwoven into the story.atonement-video-cover-copy

There are a lot of cool sites about names and their meanings and origins.  Yeah, I know — I’m a total research geek… but check out a few of the websites sometime. You already know that you can find an Internet site for just about anything.  There are sites that list names of various myth figures, gods and goddesses, and summaries of the myths.  Also, I’m sure you’ve seen at least one of the “baby name” sites.  I even found one that list names by their popularity, by state, per year.  It’s actually a cool resource if you want to find a character name that’s typical, or common for a given area and time, to help enhance the story in a subtle way.

I’ve used so many of these sites, I won’t try to list them all here.  However, I liked this one (below), and thought it was general enough for other people to find it interesting.  It’s divided by state.  For the most recent years it lists names for each year, but if you scroll down it gives an average over a five-year range. I liked that because it gave me a wide-ranging picture of what characters might populate my story.  I used it for Atonement, Tennessee since the research for that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) novel had to be done in such a hurry. http://pregnancy.about.com/od/localbabynames/a/statebabynames.htm

Okay, now I’m putting you to work.  It’s time for a quick imagining of a story.  Pick a state for the setting.  Then choose the average age for most of the people there (even go to a “city data” page if you want to get the mean age in your chosen location), and figure out in what year they would have been born.  Then click on the closest year listed.  Now look at those names and tell me what images came to your mind.  What did you see?  Didn’t you see a group of people when you looked at the names?  What were they doing?  Where did they go when they headed out their separate ways?

Have fun,

Teagan

Calico Calamity — Atonement

Calico Calamity, Excerpt — Atonement, Tennessee

This excerpt, this calico calamity, leads the heroine of “Atonement, Tennessee” into a tense situation.  Lilith the cat has a knack for finding those, and a few such are told from her point of view in the novel.  I use the calico as a device to let you know about things that Ralda (our heroine) can’t see.  However, Ralda tells about a strange encounter that happens when the capricious cat gets outside.

Scroll down and enjoy,

teagan

…I was sheltered by a big clump of tall bushes of some sort.  I thought it might be mountain laurel.  I could see the broad side of the mausoleum from there.  Shadows lurched violently against the stone crypt.  Big shadows.  Reflexively I drew back into the concealing vegetation.  Then I heard a loud avian-like screech and realized that the shadow shapes might have been wings.  My heart hammered.

The noise escalated.  It definitely sounded like more than one creature was causing that ruckus.  Then I heard the cat hiss.  I ran toward the sounds; ready to use the flashlight as a club, and wishing I had something more effective.  “Lilith!” I called.  Oh, let’s face it – I screamed.

As I ran out form the concealing mountain laurel a gust of wind buffeted me.  I tripped and fell on the uneven pavers of the path, just as the wind blew my hair, along with some dirt, into my eyes.  I couldn’t see at all for a moment, but I heard a lot of heavy rustling, scraping, shifting sounds.

Every time I thought I had half way cleared my eyes, the wind blew something into them again.  I struggled to my feet, desperately wiping my stinging eyes.  I heard soft footsteps coming toward me.

“Are you hurt?” he asked.

With an electric jump I gasped.  The calm kindness of the words did nothing to ease the added fear of knowing there was a person there.  A stranger.  In the dark.  In the graveyard.  I was pretty sure it was a large man too.

However, in the way of a panicked brain, I thought of the irrelevant – I couldn’t begin to place his accent, but he certainly had one…  I could still barely see, and couldn’t gauge how much of a threat he might be.  The night had also gotten cloudy, and therefore darker.  If I thought my heart was beating hard before, it was about to explode by then.

“Here,” he said mildly, putting a silk handkerchief into my hand, and taking my elbow to help me stand.

No doubt I should have run, coming upon a scene that seemed violent, running into a stranger in the dark isolated spot.  But his voice was gentle and comforting.  Besides, he already had my arm in a firm grip, so I wouldn’t be going anywhere if he was a criminal or psycho or something.  Shaking with reaction, I used the handkerchief to wipe my eyes.

I looked up at him.  He was tall and well built.  Rudely I pointed the flashlight on him, but I tried not to shine it directly in his eyes.  I just needed to see him, that stranger there in the dark, so I wouldn’t panic.  Then I realized he held something in the hand that wasn’t holding my elbow.  I heard loud purring.

“Lilith?” I cried.  “I don’t know how she’s been getting out.  I was so worried,” I babbled and tried not to give in to tears.  “What was all that commotion?”

Thankfully, he knew what I meant, and handed my cat to me.  “A very large bird,” he said after a minute hesitation.

For some reason, I felt like he wasn’t being truthful, but Lilith was still purring.  Did that mean this man was okay; that he was not a threat?  She had let him hold her, and purred rather than try to get free.  Usually the cat didn’t even like for me to hold her.

Considering the shadows I saw, and the sounds I heard, I couldn’t disagree with his explanation of a bird – but how large would it have to have been?  Wouldn’t it have to be enormous?  It seemed impossible, but I had seen the shadows, heard the screeching, and felt the wind from its passing.

Perhaps sensing my doubt, he went on to explain, “I’ve been watching it ever since I moved into the house.  It only comes out at night, so I haven’t seen it clearly.”

“Where did you come from?  I mean, how did you get here?” I asked, realizing that I still wasn’t making a lot of sense.

“Pardon me,” he said in a gracious voice, seeming to understand my rattled state.  “I came in at the eastern gate,” he turned and pointed gracefully as he spoke.

“From there I have been observing the large bird.  This night I decided to try to get closer, for a better look.  Apparently the kitty had similar ideas.  Since she is clearly your cat, are you the owner of this place?  If so, then we are neighbors of a sort.  I live across the road from the eastern gate.”

He paused and I felt his intent gaze on me.  I shifted nervously.  That was definitely a foreign accent.  The words he chose were unusual.  The accent was more apparent on some words, especially the way he said “kitty.”  However, I couldn’t place it.  How would such a person wind up in a tiny town like Atonement, Tennessee?

“Thank you for getting Lilith.  I’m Esmeralda Lawton,” I said, and immediately wondered why I had used my given name.  It was something I rarely did.

“Thank you,” he said in a way that made it seem like I had given him something beyond my name.  It also seemed strange that he should thank me like that in this situation.

“I am called Cael Adriel.  Would it be an imposition if I continue to observe the bird?  As I said, it seems to only come out at night.  I have not seen it anywhere else,” he requested with a note of childlike excitement.

It seemed like such an odd thing to want to do… but who could say with birdwatchers from unknown countries.  Maybe wherever he came from, hanging out in cemeteries at night, watching oversized birds wasn’t unusual.  I shushed the sarcastic part of my head that said that.

He seemed like such a little kid about it, all innocence and fascination, yet all wrapped up in an exterior of big scary sexy.  It took a moment for me to find my voice.  I realized I was staring at him.  I cleared my throat and said, “I um, I don’t suppose it would.  Be an imposition, that is.”

He smiled and inclined his head.  “You have my gratitude.  I believe the,” he hesitated fractionally, “the bird has gone.  I don’t believe it will bother you tonight.  However, I will see you home if you like?” he made the statement a question.

“I don’t think you need to do that,” I said, feeling very uncomfortable and distrustful, and something else that I wasn’t ready to define.  “But I appreciate the offer.  It’s very kind of you,” I added.

Where was the strong intuition that I had come to rely on when meeting new people?  Apparently it was off somewhere being unreliable.  In any case, it wouldn’t do to be rude, not to a new neighbor.  I wished him a good night in as pleasant and unconcerned of a voice as I could manage.  Then I turned to go back to the house.

I walked a few feet away and looked back over my shoulder.  He was still standing there, as still as any of the cemetery statuary.  I gave a little nervous wave, and kept walking.  When I thought I was out of his sight, I walked faster and faster.  I didn’t exactly feel threatened by him.  It was just that the entire situation had been frightening, and I was a little rattled.

I let myself in the backdoor, and slumped against the kitchen wall, still holding the cat.  I told myself to stop shaking.

 ***