Characters blog post by Iris Carden
In one of his very many Discworld books (I’ve read 20 so far and am still only about half way, I took a break to read other things), Terry Pratchett said something about ideas flying through space until they hit someone.
I guess I’m fortunate to be hit by so many.
Among these ideas were some characters I fell in love with when I first invented them, and although I didn’t have a story about them that would fill a whole novel, I did feel they deserved more short stories.
The first of these was Orsinius Wishlet, who came into existence in Lost and Found, a story where I set out to explain what happens to all the odd socks, missing biros and suchlike. I just loved the character of Orsinius, who is a wisp, which is a fantasy species I created. He’s got a tendency to kleptomania, but after his third story, Sweet Sixteen, has determined to keep it under control. In his second story, A Wish Come True, he met Ariana, a human who was in serious trouble at the time, who in later stories became his friend and companion in his adventures. Things have been getting worse and worse for both Orsinius and Ariana lately, and I’m not sure where it’s all going. When the idea hits me and I find out, I’ll write the story so you can find out, too.
The next character I really felt needed more stories was Elizabeth Munroe, who made her debut in The Stopover. I’m going to confess I didn’t even give her a name until her third story. Elizabeth is a woman who wasn’t particularly interested in space, but took a job in a mining colony on Mars because she needed a job and that was what was available. In her first story, she gained an appreciation of the magnitude of being part of something new in a place humans had never been. Her stories have been going happily since then, as her diary tells us her personal history on this new planet.
Perhaps her stories have been going too happily. I’ve heard from a reader who says she’s waiting for it to go bad. After all, that’s what I do to all my characters, even the ones I love the most. Don’t worry, I have plans to wreck absolutely everything for Elizabeth…soon.
When I had the idea for the anonymous funeral director, who disposes of bodies unofficially on the side, I actually thought of the first three stories simultaneously. I wrote Disposal, Kids and Money in two days. Last week, I had more ideas, and wrote another three stories for her. One of them’s been published, the next will appear over the next week or two. I think she’s a likeable character, but she has this dark side that is fine with picking up bodies which have obviously been murdered and asking no questions. In fact, she’s OK with killing someone herself, if the occasion demands it.
As I think of it, she’s been getting away with rather a lot, with no consequences so far. I might have to do something about that.
Just this week I came up with a different character who I can see having lots of stories. The stories are unrelated, except that something strange happens. The unifying factor is the narrator who, in my mind at least, speaks with Vincent Price’s voice. You might hear a completely different voice when you read his/her/their stories. That’s the great thing about writing: a story begins in the writer’s imagination, then rewrites itself in the reader’s imagination. The Strange Tales narrator can be anyone you want them to be.
The Strange Tales narrator speaks directly to the reader, introducing and finishing the story, and sometimes interjecting with extra information or opinions. I had in mind something like The Twilight Zone, or perhaps, because I’ve just seen the first couple of episodes, Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities.
I think the main thing which differentiates these characters and their stories from the ongoing story of my current work in progress that I publish each Saturday, is that I can pick them up and put them down again at any time. Their stories can (mostly) stand alone.
The links to all of these characters’ stories are below, in case you want to catch up with one of them.
Please feel free to send me comments. I love to know what my readers think about my work.
Orsinius Wishlet Stories
Lost and Found was originally a one-off story, until the day I had the idea for A Wish Come True. After that, Orsinius and the world built around him just kept coming back to me.
The Mars Stories
I invite you, dear reader, to look out for more: