Those who have read a number of the monthly posts that delve deeper into the characters in each of my books already know that the first of these posts started way back in February. But what’s true about these characters is that there are so many of them, with interlocking little relationships over the (now 10!) books, that discussing just a few of them is like scratching the surface of one of those gift cards where you peel off the silver to see the redemption code. But—well, if you’ve ever owned a gift card and I have to say they are one of my favorite things—after all that scratching you find something you really want to see!
Anyway, the two characters highlighted for Victoria: A Tale of Spain today are the protagonist, this brave young girl who’s sort of a classic heroine in a picturesque setting like 1600s Spain. And of course the villain, King Felipe, who is set against her, and who grew from the idea of a similar character in “Millhaven Castle.” Like Lord Timson, he summons a girl to his castle to protect his throne and plans to set her up. And like Lord Timson he has his work cut out for him.
Victoria is the next-to-youngest of 6 daughters of a Spanish duke. It’s a family very, very much full of girls under the semi-watchful eye of their parents. One sister has run off to get married and the oldest sister kind of has a supervisory position at times. So it’s a bit reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice in terms of the family dynamic and this dynamic is extremely important to Victoria. It's her family that’s in danger and she’s the one who ends up finding a solution. She’s an innocent, spunky girl who proves pretty resourceful when this situation opens up in front of her.
King Felipe is the villain with a 100% chance of failure. And what’s fun about him is that he’s like a real person who's quite insecure. He’s not particularly handsome or interesting although he was born in high circles of life and he’s actually very aware of it. His hysteria over some long-buried factoid about the throne comes from his lack of confidence as a person and whether he deserves what he has. He’s also bad at scheming—fortunately for Victoria and her sisters. But he’s a really funny character and makes the plot zip along once he shows up halfway through.
And there will be more updates.
Victoria: A Tale of Spain, my 17th-century lower YA adventure story, wouldn’t have come about without a European trip I took about 9 years ago. The concept for the trip wasn't mine--I hadn’t even thought about going to Europe--and none of the locations and itinerary were chosen by me. In particular, I’d never thought of visiting Spain and I ended up staying there about 7 weeks one summer. If I had considered a trip of my own, it would probably have been focused on the British Isles because that’s the Europe I’m most familiar with from books and movies.
But sometimes things in life just JUMP out at you. They fly in your face and you seem surrounded by a milling blur of impressions, people surrounding you, loud voices, and confusing activities launched at you. Sometimes a story is hiding somewhere in that blur. A story that is launching itself directly into your face. And when anyone is coming straight towards you, let alone a story, you might as well say, “Well, Hello There” and accept it.
At first I didn’t get a lot out of that trip. Secretly, I’d always assumed it couldn’t have the slightest usefulness to my storytelling and to me, writing stories is absolute as a grade for whether I care about it. As a trip it was fun, yes, and had memorable moments. But I didn’t feel they were USEFUL moments. I didn’t see any incidents or places that I wanted to write about after months spent abroad. And when I’m not getting an idea for a story, I feel like moving on. But several years later, I wrote a small draft of a story set in Spain. It wasn’t much good—very angsty and melodramatic, with tense and unhappy family relationships and symbolic action sequences. Later I merged it into a light-hearted little novella that had used some of the El Escorial palace setting as an influence, though not much else in Spain.
I didn’t want to work on the merge of the two because it was a lot of effort for a setting and type of story that was so unusual I couldn’t see much of a real market for the completed book. But the story continued to call my name and Boom, Fly in My Face until I worked on it. And in the end, I’m glad I did. Victoria is a more interesting story than I believed it was and it definitely occupies a place in my books. After all, I like to do unusual ideas once I realize they DO have an audience.
And there will be more updates.
I had to rewrite these stories about 3 times last year in order to complete a merge of them. I wanted to discard “Alyce” altogether, but I just felt a lingering presence in it that wouldn’t go away. However, I didn’t add much new material, like new characters. This means there are now at least 5 things that could be improved and you only notice these when the two stories are combined.
Not that this makes the book low-quality—I mean, no book is PERFECT. (Except I know many people will vouch for their currently favorite historical romance or YA fantasy author. But aside from that, no book is ever perfect.)
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write stories about human emotions--about the journey of life. Every step of it can be meaningfully great or simply terrible and you can only reach the end after experiencing many kinds of things that make you grow. Emotional travels are the travels of life and the road of living is not one planned out in notebooks or organized in Scrivener. It is felt in love, hope, and fear and developed through an understanding of why humans go through these. And, on top of that, my stories are adventure stories. History, fantasy, and daily modern situations are all adventures as long as you don't know for sure what's going to happen when you wake up each day. Because that would be like repeating the same day over and over again and who wants to do that?
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Bellevere House has been featured on Ezvid Wiki video "10 Wonderfully Inventive Retellings That Interpret Classic Stories in a New Way." Click to see the video.