Beautiful People: The Valentine’s Edition

(Far be it for me to dictate against inspiration from commercialism…) For this month’s Beautiful People, hosted by Cait and Sky, since it’s February, they decided to do a Valentine’s edition and look at significant relationships of these beautiful people/characters.

I made it Valentine's pretty ^_^

I made it Valentine’s pretty ^_^

I would be insane not to look at Aidelle and Phillip, and, unsurprisingly, I have a lot to say! Theirs is one of the most interesting relationships in my writing – not least because the existence and ‘fates’ of certain other characters hinges on their being together. It’s also one of the more successful relationships, at least in relative terms. Oh, and FYI, since the trilogy has a lot of timey-wimey, I’ll be looking at their relationship at the time of the beginning of WTCB, aka August 2010, the first…

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  1. How long have they been a couple?

About a year. I’m sure The Almanac has the exact date they met and were obliged to be a couple, but I don’t know exactly, except that they have been engaged for a year.

  1. How did they first meet?

Through The Continent’s arranged marriage system: Phillip had to choose a wife to appease his parents from a Selection of ten women; Aidelle agreed to have her name put forward, so her mother would get off her back. She had no idea Phillip would actually go for the least socialite-y of the girls. Luckily, it worked out for them. (Thus far.)

  1. What were their first thoughts of each other? (Love at first sight or “you’re freakishly annoying”?)

Hum, well, it wasn’t love at first sight and neither of them wanted to meet, so there was some tension there, but they certainly had a dash of chemistry, and were intellectually compatible – ironically, by the fact that neither of them wanted to be there.

  1. What do they do that most annoys each other?

Aidelle hates that Phillip doesn’t raise his voice when he gets angry. She doesn’t like that he keeps things from her, acting aloof and the like, even if for her own sake. Phillip loves Aidelle very much, but he can be annoyed by the way she always complains about her siblings and his. They don’t much yet have habits that really irk each other.

  1. Are their personalities opposite or similar?

More complementary than similar. Whilst they share the same views about life, such as that the war is bad, Aidelle runs on tempers to Phillip’s logical contemplation. He is thoughtful, though they are similarly emotion- and action-focused to trouble. However, Phillip has known that his fury can hurt, and has changed his actions to make the world a better place. Maybe Aidelle will learn from losing her temper than she needs to regulate her mood better.

  1. How would their lives be different without each other?

Oh, this question… You must’ve read my novel! 😛 Whilst if she’d never met Phillip, Aidelle would still be the youngest, frumpiest third daughter of failing parents, Phillip would always have had to choose a woman to marry, lest he face the wrath and pressure of his father’s inheritance. He probably would never have been attracted to her, and who knows if he would have ever wanted a family? His entire future would have been completely different if he had not chosen Aidelle. Perhaps, that’s why I find Phillip a more interesting character to write.

  1. Are they ever embarrassed of each other?

I think Phillip probably feels rather shy of Aidelle when she interacts with the papers and possibly with his family. On the other hand, they tend to be quite open with each other; because they have similar ideas and strict unspoken relationship norms, they don’t tend to be embarrassed by each other.

  1. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship?

All of the people. *cough* Well, Aidelle’s family approve of the relationship, because it’s a socioeconomic step up for her, orchestrated by her mother (and possibly manipulated by Aidelle’s uncle who was once the hired painter for Phillip’s parents, but the jury’s out on that one); but Phillip’s parents, once he had selected Aidelle, started having second thoughts about whether she is the best woman to be a Costello wife. We’re not sure who started the rumours against Aidelle’s anti-societism and how flawed and failing her poor parents are. And then there are the socialites with deep jealousy who despise and bully Aidelle whenever she is in the centre of the continent. Perhaps they think if they insult her enough, she will relinquish Phillip and let him marry one of them instead.

And then there’s his brother Rion, who just hates the general idea of marrying women. I wonder why… 😉

  1. Do they see their relationship as long-term/leading to marriage?

They are engaged! *drinks celebratory wine* In fact, they are due to marry a month after the novel starts, so, yeah, they want their happily ever after.

  1. If they could plan the “perfect outing” together, where would they go?

I could see them going for a walk around the lake where they met. They’d take a picnic into the bandstand, then later find a nice quiet spot in the woods. 😉 Both Phillip and Aidelle, whilst not being athletic, enjoy exploring nature and hiking, though Aidelle would probably start complaining that her feet are hurting after a while. She doesn’t have the best of shoes for serious hiking.

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That’s it from me for now. I could talk about Aidelle and Phillip’s relationship for ages, going through every little detail of the past, present, future— but that’s what the Almanac is for, not me. Check out the rest of the Beautiful People for February tag. Following on from Cait’s question at the end of her post, I’ll say that I write fluffy romances with a hint of the tragic, of course, a smidgen forbidden by some, and occasionally a triangle if the characters feel like it.

What about you? Do you write romance? If so, what sort? Happy February!

Beautiful People: Aidelle

Today I’m jumping in on the Beautiful People Meme hosted by Cait at The Notebook Sisters and Sky at Further Up and Further In. Once a month they ask questions to help us delve further into our characters. Today, I’ll be looking at arguably my most ‘famous’ female Main Character, Aidelle. The sharp-spirited ‘heroine’ of When the Clock Broke, Aidelle provides us with quite a unique look at this NeoVictorian fantasy world, considering that she was born into a falling upper-middle class family, yet managed to snag the love of an eligible bachelor from one of the greatest upper-class families.

“In those days, I encountered general physics and the logic puzzles that my father set for my sisters and me. He did it as practise for administration at the College. The others followed my mother to the letter with her marital ideas. Oh, look what happened to me when I tried to marry!”

1) What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it? 

Aidelle Harre Masters. There’s no fictional story behind her name – her parents simply liked the name, as they had with Aidelle’s older sisters ‘Mariene’, ‘Emilie’, and ‘Sabrine’. In terms of my creation of the name, the fun fact is that Aidelle is a typo of her original name Adielle, and the former stuck to the character far better.

2) How old are they, and when were they born? 

In When the Clock Broke, which is set in 2010, Aidelle is 20, meaning she was born in 1990. On the family tree, I still have her birthday cheekily down as the 13th May (that’s my birthday), but I don’t actually want to play a Rowling here. Nevertheless, Aidelle would work as having some May birthday.

3) Describe their physical appearance. Bonus questions: 1. What is their race/nationality/ethnicity? 2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!

Aidelle is a Continentian, which means she lives on the largest (as far as Continentians are concerned) landmass in their world. Her fair skin shows that she has grown up in the middle of The Continent – away from the mountainous regions and strong sunshine of the Uppers. According to legend, she ought to be somewhat descended from Uppers, due to her brown hair – it is described as ‘chocolate’ coloured by her fiancé, but tends towards chestnut during the summer months; doubtless, a recessive or dormant gene has provided some mix of the light hair-pigment of higher class that once lived in the Lower part of The Continent and the ‘pure’ black hair-pigment that shows consistently through inbred Vallente and Costello trees.

Alex Kingston might depict a slightly older Aidelle:
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4) Describe your character’s personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences. 

Feisty. Okay, it’s a bit cliché, but when I think of Aidelle’s flaws and why she isn’t my favourite character of When the Clock Broke, that word comes to mind. She’s stubborn and self-centred. I can’t help thinking that if she’d had a more subservient personality (as one of the Vallentes wrongly mocks her for in the first chapter), she would have been more open to her fiancé’s decisions.

Then again, she wouldn’t have been as fun to write, and, without her temper, the plot would never have come to be.

5) What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?

Difficult question. I always have a hard time fitting music to my fiction, in particular the Time, Stopped Trilogy. I choose Stuck on Repeat by Little Boots for the persistence of Aidelle’s heart and the temporal element of the plot, ie. the timey-wimey. 😉

 

6) Which one of the seven deadly sins describes your character? 

Envy, since Aidelle is prone to bouts of wishing she were as pretty as the upper-classed socialites. She needs to ease off judging herself, but also stop associating her feeling good with others’ appearances and opinions.

7) If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air, spirit [AB: I added this last one, since I believe there are technically five elements]), which one would they be? 

A difficult question, since I can see Aidelle possessing traits relevant to several of the elements. If I had to pick a single one, I’m inclined towards fire, for her perchance to erupt in angry bursts. Aidelle’s tried containing her stubbornness, but at times she is still very much concerned with her own opinion over that of others’. On the other hand, like fire she needs oxygen to keep her alive – and without her source, she flounders in a very depressive state.

8) What is their favourite word? 

(Keep me from searching my 80-thousand-word manuscript, thank you!) As well as being fashion-orientated, Aidelle is very curious about the universe beyond her world – not the other continents, but the starry sky. She lacks the diction and training of her fiancé’s family and class, but this does not negate her ability to create neologisms. ‘Paradox’ might come close, were her dreams of space not defeated by her dreams of love. So, a favourite word? Possibly something as simple as ‘passion’.

9) Who’s one person they really miss?

Hehe, without question, the answer to this question is her fiancé, Phillip. Without giving away spoilers, unforeseen circumstances provoke a rift between the couple that Aidelle aggravates. She might have had the skill to stop Phillip from leaving, but, instead, she let her anger take hold of her and send him away.
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10) What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?

Aidelle tends to associate the hum of Phillip’s cologne with a sunset – that warmth in ambers and golds as the sun disappears into the ocean. When he’s gone, at first she focuses on the physical attraction that’s missing: things like the particular shape of a chair or the colour of another’s eyes remind her of his appearance. Later, as Aidelle begins to think through what she can do to win him back, her mind strays from her own physical work to the way Phillip, who gained a philosophy ‘education’ (BA) with an emphasis on meta-physics, would deal with her situation.

More Creative Quotes

Another ‘creative’ quote from my manuscript, this time from Aidelle’s side of the separation. Of regrets and chilling thoughts of being away from him.

(It’s larger – and the picture was, sadly, more cumbersome than my previous, horizontal photos – therefore, I have to say, the quote carries less elegance than the other, but I still thinks this brings a certain bundle of ‘feels’ when I read it. I highlighted some of the phrases that have stayed with me throughout writing.)

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Aidelle and Phillip as Ponies!

Doing my rounds of the blogs this week, I came across Brian Taylor’s post in which he has created a My Little Pony version of his main character, Mitsuko (the original Pony Creator is on DeviantART here). I thought I might as well have a play around.

Too, as you may know from following my Characters as Flowers series, this gives me an opportunity to be creative with relevance to my novel and my characters’ personalities.

More about When the Clock Broke:

Thanks to a timepiece Aidelle chucked at her fiancé as he slammed the door on their relationship, she’s frozen out of time. When she can’t search for the man she still loves, hope comes only from attempting a patch-up of the clock. Unbreak the clock and unbreak time, right? But, time, with all its bumps and eddies, doesn’t play fair.
 
Aidelle catches a glimpse of her fiancé in the midst of a temporal fissure. His heart still seeks her, even from a war-torn future. If she doesn’t rewind time – and, in the process, win back the man she adores – they will both be erased from existence.

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Aidelle: For the base colour, I went with an ‘average’ shade of brown, to emphasise how mundane Aidelle and society believe she is. Obviously, I wanted to make the pony remotely like Aidelle in appearance, so her mane and tail colour are that typical earth/mud brown, interpreted by Phillip as ‘chocolate brown’, showing how subjective emotive sight is. Her wide, questioning eyes are as hazel as in the book.

Whilst so many hair-types existed, and many would have fit both Aidelle’s personality and her appearance, I couldn’t resist going for the wild, ‘unbridled’ fluff of the massive curls. Too, this adds to the ‘softer’ edges of her personality. Yes, Aidelle has a sharp temper, but, in general, she is the woman. When Zara wishes she were a man, Aidelle rebukes her by insisting they stay as who they are. I think, despite how she knows her sex has closed off many routes, Aidelle is proud to be feminine.

This, I hope, I have also shown through the curves in the body-shape and face and eyes. As for the other facial features: I wanted to give pony Aidelle an unusual appearance, ie. not that stereotypical cute-and-cuddly, because of Aidelle’s belief that she is ugly – note the crooked tip of the ear and the snub snout.

I had never intended for there to be any sort of marking on Aidelle quarters – after all, she has no extraordinary marking on her human body (though, fun fact, she has a mole on her left wrist like I do) – but I fell in love with the dappled marking when I saw it. It mimics the suppressed side of Aidelle and her love of space; with moonlight-like clusters over the pony’s flesh, I see the stars beyond Aidelle’s eyes.

 

And, because I enjoyed that too much, I also created a pony for Phillip!

Pragmatic and practical, Phillip’s pony also helped me discover more about the pony creator, including the range of poses. Whilst Aidelle’s is in basic pose, Philip here has a custom move of mine. I tilted his head back to show his pride and determination, but tweaked one toe to suggest his independence away from the Costello name – as if he is ready to dance more than fight.

Phillippony

You can’t really see his cutie mark (a special symbol on the flank of the My Little Ponies, expressing their personality or their powers), but I felt it appropriate to give him one, as his family is of status. The mark is a dagger, to emphasise the Costello history success of Warfare.  If The Continent really was a My Little Pony world, I suspect people would judge each other by cutie mark instead of family name. Notice that Aidelle does not have one, suggesting that she is of a much lower status than he.

Nor could I resist giving him a cape to suggest status as well! (Ironically, one could argue that he subverts his given status by hiding his cutie mark under his cape.) Phillip can’t help sometimes conforming to his childhood and parenthood.

I chose a cool blue colour for the base after much deliberation; I believe this shows Phillip’s pacifism, his attempt to keep from shouting. The mane and tail are a little too purple for my liking, but, especially as his straight hooves and cape are black, I wanted to vary some of the colours. I wanted to show Phillip’s Raven black hair, to give it more colour than one level of ink. In the book, Aidelle describes Phillip’s eyes as ‘forest green’, which I’ve always taken to be a cross between emerald and dark green, a colour I would never be able to replicate.

For a pony, he’s surprisingly handsome.

Those who’ve read the query might recognise the house in both backgrounds – in Aidelle’s, a dull but homely space; in Phillip’s, the place is ruined.

What about you? What would you say are your characters’ most defining features or those you’d incorporate into a My Little Pony?

WTCB September: An Interview with Aidelle Masters

Aidelle places herself delicately on the edge of the seat. Her dark brown eyes rattle around the room, from the off-white walls to the floor as blue as the cushion under her derriere.

She folds her hands into her lap, trying to press away their tremors, and smooths down the ripples in her skirts.

Otherwise, she keeps her fidgeting to a minimum, and, for that, I am grateful. I eye her round face over the top of my spectacles.

“Miss Masters,” I intone, “what might I do for you?”

“Well,” she snakes a hand to one ringlet-end. “I am here asking about the criteria to study at the Physics Institute.”

My invisible words mirror hers. For a moment, sense is easier to believe in the words I want her to say, not those she has actually poured from her tongue.

“To study.” To study? “Miss Masters – Aidelle – you realise that this is most irregular.”

“I realise,” she replies, “and this is why I ask for the criteria alone. If I would have to dress up in men’s garb, I would.”

She wouldn’t. Anyone who follows the Masters family news knows Aidelle confines herself to dresses. She is as unbelievably feminine as the sky is unbelievably blue.

“The Freedom of Clothing Act has only—”

“I know for how long we have had the choice, thank you. That’s why I’m asking. If I were not a woman—”

I spread my palms outwards. “But you are. Physics is no employ for a woman, even if your father might pull some admissions strings here or there.”

She purses her lips, pushing them out beyond their natural shape. “I see. If that is how it is.”

“I am sorry,” I say. I find myself on my feet before the thought of dismissing her actually sweeps across my mind.

She stands up shortly with a small cough. Her hands meet again, and, as one, sweep from her waist downwards.

“I would appreciate it if you would not tell my father about this discourse.”

I blink. “Of course not.”

Then, my world is empty. She has carried herself out of the room, barely tipping the edge of her hat in the process. Florals cling to the air, reminding me of the girl I once knew. Timid and clinging to Deanna Masters, she had never been a great beauty, but one had assumed she would have grown into her body as her sisters had in their own teenage years.

Yet, Aidelle’s youth did not deny her adulthood. With arrogant grace she might have swept away, but with frenetic curiosity she had wandered through my door, as she had all those years ago, book in hand.

~

This started as an author-character conversation, but, as always, the piece took me its own way, and showed the theoretic of a scenario had Aidelle followed her first love.

Character Flowers: Zara

Zara rubbed her face. She stood still. But Aidelle noticed her hand sneak up to the handle. “From the idea. From us. We are here and we keep moving. X exists.” The last bore the tone of a suggestion. Zara turned her big eyes onto Aidelle’s, asking for any affirmation of the idea that X was both hope and hope’s goal.

As portrayed in my head by Lucy Hale

As portrayed in my head by Lucy Hale

Zara is an abstract, a work-in-progress. Not as a character: no, I know all about her – but as a persona.

There’s always been something quite mysterious about Zara beyond her not-supposed-to-exist-ence (!); even as an actual character whose perspective we get a glimpse of at the end of WTCB book 1, she is deliberately evasive of the readers. In addition, she becomes the protagonist of the next two books, which slips her into centre stage with ambiguous meaning.

As she is towards Aidelle. Thus, I put my mind to thinking of a flower that had elements of secrecy and mystery – of a darkness behind, but a possibility in front. I already had a few ideas from this.

imagesTo begin with it was colours. As I’m not a flower-expert (learning of new flowers is one of the things I already enjoy from this series), I Googled “small purple flowers”. I think, if Zara had a definite favourite colour, it would be around the colour of purple; she’s not a girl who delights in colours that are light and ‘airy’. The direct fact that she dresses in trousers not only contrasts Aidelle’s feminine side and concern with fashion – of which she would have said trousers are not fashion – but also emphasises the future she holds within her.

“Just because something has potentiality, doesn’t mean it necessarily has actuality. Existence is not a predicate. You may return home, you may not.”

Zara gave her a sceptical look. “I don’t aim for home.”

At times, Zara is savage. Not in the way Aidelle is with raw fury, but with a cruel trickery that she unveils to people occasionally. She is stubborn and willing to work for what she wants. In my hunt for symbolism, I kept my eyes out for flowers that not only looked so, but also had a spikiness within their pasts, too.

Zara is a Purple Pansy. From the French word for ‘thought’, pensée, the Pansy could be said to be a telepathic link between lovers – and what a link indeed is Zara between Aidelle and her fiancé. It is Zara who first alerts Aidelle to her time-trapped situation, and Zara who guides Aidelle, even when her own life is sapped away.

I was happy to find out that, in Italy, the Pansy can be known as ‘flammola’ – little flame. This suits Zara for her youth (she is one of the youngest characters in book 1) and for her sharp of tongue.

“When you came here, Zara, you brought me to life. Your fiery heart will flame on and on and on.” (an actual quote from Aidelle)

415px-Pansy_Viola_x_wittrockiana_Purple_Cultivar_Flower_1907pxI chose to stick with the small purple-coloured head because, visually, it has a sharp demeanour whilst being beautiful. In my opinion, although small in size, the Pansy is not a fragile flower. Just as, though Zara’s upper-middle class roots and flowing black locks means she can quickly attract, she chooses to dampen her desirability by becoming a mechanic.

Too, the pansy often has a bright ‘eye’, a bright centre; this I believe links to the intelligence of both Aidelle and Zara.

Finally, purple symbolises memories – an apt match considering that Zara holds a lot of memories within her, a lot of abstract substance that she alone keeps solid. With Zara’s disappearance goes the family held in her memories.

The beautiful dark red pansy.

The beautiful dark red pansy.