Beautiful People: The Lady of The House


As I am busy polishing WTCB, my May Beautiful People (hosted by the effervescent Cait and Sky) is focused thusly. Today, we take a look back in time to pre-Phillip era when Octavia Costello was still young and bright. As I intend to write Zara, in her LSOT exploits, travelling back to the early days of her great-grandmother, it’s an apt choice today.

“I refuse to believe that my son is mad. I do not believe that those involved in so-called ‘inbreeding’ give birth to mad children.” Mrs. Costello slammed down her fork. “I feel sick. Excuse me.”

(Mrs. Costello is a minor character in the first book, especially after I removed one of her scenes from an earlier draft, but I happened to be editing the scene she’s in this week, and this kind of quote sums her up.)

I quite like this image of actress Julie Graham that sums up Mrs. O Costello’s primness



1. Do they get nightmares? If so, why or what of?

Funnily enough, this first question is apt to Mrs. C, as her nightmares play a part in the plot of LSOT and the future of Phillip and Peter. In fact, nightmares play a recurrent theme in the tales of Costello (which I really feel should be capitalised :P). As to what she has her nightmares of a bit of a spoiler, but I will say that they link to Peter’s psychic ability to see between timelines – as that is a genetic gift, as Zara points out.

2. What is their biggest guilty pleasure/secret shame?

Immediately springs to mind, actually, is chocolate – which is likely, seeing as chocolate is a commodity until about the Iuanian Era – the Dieselpunk era of one of Octavia’s great-grandsons, who campaigns for peace by exploring The Second Continent. One day I’ll write the novella.

Anyway…Octavia gets a lot of pleasure from her food, and because she has a quick metabolism, she doesn’t put on weight if she eats a lot. Another guilty pleasure of hers is spending the Costello money on material things like her plush carpet and multiple cushions in her bedroom.

What are you going to do? xD

3. Are they easily persuaded or do they need more proof?

Mrs. Costello is as stubborn as a mule, and not usually persuaded, especially by those of the lower-class. Although she often bows to her husband’s word – after all, he saved her from the life of the orphaned spinster and she is lovingly grateful – she tries to influence his decisions concerning their six sons and the finance. She wants to run the house as she is meant to and has grown up to expect.

4. Do they suffer from any phobias? Does it affect their life in a big way?

No, Mrs. C doesn’t suffer from any phobias, particularly not in her early life when she was a social butterfly as a young wife, though she does become more withdrawn as her boys grow up. Nobody ever knows if this is an agoraphobia, or just senility.

5. What do they consider their “Achilles heel”?

Possibly just as much as it is her advantage, Mrs. Costello’s magpie love of shiny things has been her downfall in recent years. She has begun to rely on the polished nature (both literally and metaphorically) of the Costello household to keep her feeling calm and content. When the men return from war in 2015 and relationships begin to corrode in the lesser timeline, Octavia does not know how to handle herself.

6. How do they handle a crisis?

With sharp tongues and calculating minds. She is her husband/cousin’s wife/cousin to a T; and she has a Costello, problem-focused coping approach to working things out.

7. Do they have a temper?

A mother’s temper at least. But Octavia can be sharp towards her husband and her sons because she loves them. So, yes, a temper, but not an unruly one (like Aidelle) or an unjustified one. When she was younger, like before she turned thirteen, she was actually quite meek.

8. What are their core values and/or religious beliefs?

As religion no longer exists in most families in the Continent (not looking at you, Lysander Archer*), the Costellos have no beliefs, but in terms of values: Octavia counts family as one of her core values – keeping-up appearances, making sure everyone she cares about is happy. She would stand up for Costello as a House, but also each individual, even if they have shamed the name a bit.

9. What things do they value most in life?

A plainer life for young Mrs. C…

Again: family. But also having a good time – at least, she did when she was younger. Octavia does love a good celebration, especially if it involves her getting gifts. She also values the arts, though she wouldn’t say as much to Dr. Costello. Material needs aside, Octavia has no skill at painting – mainly because she has never been trained – but she has an artist’s eye, and can pick out colours and shapes from paintings**.

10. What is one major event that helped shape who they are?

Ooh, one major event. Those are difficult. I’d say probably her marriage, since she was too young to remember her mother dying in childbirth to a stillborn boy or her father being committed to life alone in the countryside (think Bedlam for a place which doesn’t associate or recognise Bedlam).

Octavia’s marriage not only opened her future to the possibly of a good name and food on her table and ladies’ maids for her hair, but also allowed her see what love and trust is like. Percival Costello cares very much for his wife, even when he dismisses her, so despite never having met before their betrothal, they are of the same kind of mind that bounces off each other. I do love that.

The Death of Hyacinthos.gif


*This is a running gag, as I’ve used The Death of Hyacinthos painting by Jean Broc (above) to portray Lysander and Rion’s relationship, and Lysander’s family have busts of Greek gods like Hyacinth around their house.

**I’d be more specific, but neither have I been trained in the physical arts!

Thanks for listening to my blathering about a minor character in my trilogy (!). Check out the rest of the blog-hop at Cait’s or Sky’s places.


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