Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Remember When . . . The Automobiles Arrived?

It's been a looooooooong time since I've gotten to give a character a car. A horse, yes. Picking out a type of carriage, sure. But a car? I haven't written a story with a car in years. So when I began to ponder turning my Victorian trilogy into an Edwardian one, one of my first thoughts was, "Oh wow--I need to pick out a car for Justin!"

Perhaps I should give you a little history first. Way back when I was twelve, I had this idea for a book. Which, I said, I would write until I finished it! A little over a year later, I scratched the words "The End" enthusiastically across the last of my hundreds of pages of notebook paper. The book was called Golden Sunset, Silver Tear. It was about Brook, who was raised as a princess in the fictional country of Bratinburg before discovering through the help of her best friend Justin, future English duke, that she was really British. Her bead necklace contained clues to what led to her parents' deaths and her own fate.

Two years after that, I discovered Monaco. So Brook became an adopted Grimaldi. Another three years, and I gave the book a major overhaul to update the writing but kept the plot in place. Another three years and I was out of college, had my first baby, and was determined to make this book as good as the others I'd written in the intervening years. So I chucked pretty much every scene, kept the premise, changed names where necessary, and retitled the book Fire Eyes.

In 2007, the book landed me an agent. But alas, though a few publishers took it to committee, it always struck out. So fast forward back to two weeks ago, when my (second) agent said, "Do you have anything Edwardian?" and I said, "No. But I could." =)

This is so much fun because I know these characters inside out and upside down. So tossing them into a world 50 years after where I first envisioned them leads me to all sorts of fun decisions. Would Brook still have been content with stolen solitary horse rides, or would the changing times have upped her rebellion? Would she now be borrowing cars for her stunts? Oh, you bet she would. So I open now with her sliding a gloved hand along the side of a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. And, when its owner (Justin) catches her in the act of taking the wheel, she demands a driving lesson of her longtime friend.

Thankfully, I'm married to a man who can answer all my stupid questions about first-generation cars. Like, "Okay, so you crank it to start it . . . how do you turn it off?"

Hubby: "You switch off the magneto."

Me: "The mag-what-o?" Oh yes. It required a bit of an education, LOL.

Thus far the automobile has found many fun places in the three chapters I've rewritten of Fire Eyes (which has been retitled yet again). Justin has just received his Silver Ghost from his father--who bought for himself one designed by "that Bugatti chap" as my Earl of Abingdon says. Justin's best friend, once a rogue aristocrat who chose to sail the high seas instead of attend his estates back home, is now a race car driver in the first Grand Prix and rallies. The debut Indianapolis 500 will be coming up within the pages of my book, and you can bet Lord Thate will be there. =)

For historical writers, there's nothing truer than "If you change the setting, you change the whole book--characters included." It's very true. And this change of setting will cause many, many a change to this first-ever novel I wrote. But oh, isn't it fun to see how my characters adapt to the times!

8 comments:

  1. Roseanna! What an amazing story idea! I looove old cars! Just went down to the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan and saw a lot of very early models. You would have loved that place! George Washington’s camp bed was there as well as a copy of a very early edition of the Declaration of Independence. Historical writer’s heaven!

    So is the fictional country still going to be included in the plot or is the novel going to be a strict historical now that you’re rewriting it?

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    1. Oh, I'm so jealous! That WOULD be a dream of a place to visit! And so I know you must have been in heaven indeed. =)

      The fictional country has bitten the dust in this one for good--especially because in order to add another POV I had to repace the beginning, so they're only in Monaco for two chapters. Not really enough time to establish a made-up location. =) But having Monaco in it's going to be a blast. In my original setting of 1856, it was on the brink of financial ruin after losing most of its land to France, and the prince had just gotten the idea for a casino. Now, in 1910, the Casino Monte Carlo was in full, opulent swing, and Monaco was a gambler's paradise--which is going to make for some hilarity when the British patronesses try snubbing Brook for growing up there. =)

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  2. Yes, changing the setting does make a huge difference. I am thinking about moving contemporary story to immediately after WWII. It is making huge changes! I have not actually 'moved' it yet, but just thinking about it is a lot of work!

    The car sounds awesome! So glad that you are having fun with this story it's new stetting. I enjoy the Victorian era. You must be very busy!
    Thank you for sharing! I always enjoy hearing how you are doing.

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    1. Yeah, it definitely requires a total rewrite, not just tweaking. But I'd been thinking I'd have to rewrite this one again anyway, so a new setting gets those creative juices flowing for sure! Though I too love the Victorian era. I still have some other story ideas set there, though. =)

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  3. Hooray for David! That comment made me chuckle. Fortunately, I have no cars in my own story at the moment, because Jared would be as clueless as I would be. :-)

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    1. LOL. David is always a big help whenever I need to include something like that, be it a car, a weapon, or a chemistry experiment. Handy chap to have around, that honey of mine. =)

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  4. This sounds SOOO fun! That's one gorgeous car, by the way.

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  5. You are so much braver than I! Pretty sure I would cringe at moving one of my stories. Though there are a few that could probably use the update and dust-off. *laughs*

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