Beautiful People: The Costello Brothers

Time for the monthly Beautiful People meme hosted by the lovely lasses Cait and Sky. This month’s topic of interest was of siblings, those mysterious people we have no choice but to know because we grew up with them. I write a lot of siblings, so this could have been a difficult choice for me who to talk about – but, in the end, it was always going to be siblings Rion and Phillip Costello, fourth and fifth of the eminent Costello clan in Phillip’s Era. The Costellos, particular Rion, Phillip, and Peter Costello, feature heavily in When the Clock Broke­ – not least because Phillip is one of the Main Characters of the novel.


  1. What is the first memory they have of each other?

No doubt, Rion’s first memory was of a mother confined to her room for a couple of months. The boys were both young when they were first introduced, obviously, but neither has a distinct first memory of the other. Phillip remembers Rion running about the orangery; and Rion remembers Phillip and Octavia Costello’s cries in the night, but these are little memories compared with everything else.

  1. Describe their relationship in 3 words.

Bitter at best.

  1. What kind of things do they like to do together?

They might not admit it, but Rion and Phillip actually have a lot of things they like to do in similar, such as dining in full evening dress, and, uh, taking the air, ahem, with their lovers.

  1. What was their biggest fight?

Difficult to say, but probably the incidents of the novella/short story I never managed to write more of than on a writing site: Lysander Yakinos Archer (caution: mild mature scenes). I’m rather protective of the plot since I’ve not brought a finish to the writing/editing and bits of it are in the yet-unwritten final instalment/novel of the Time, Stopped Trilogy, but I’ll say that Phillip disapproved of Rion’s life-choices, lost his temper, and events got out of hand. Rion misinterpreted further events as Phillip’s fault and swore to stop his happiness, too.

(Of course, I’m biased to Phillip’s side.)

  1. How far would they go to save each other?

Despite how Rion has frequently been malicious towards him, Phillip would try and save Rion from himself, if Rion would listen. Rion, on the other hand, is bent in jealousy and his anger, and would try the opposite to throw Yet…he would never kill him or let him wander into danger, such as is their blood.

  1. What are their pet peeves about each other?

Phillip can’t stand how sycophantic Rion is, particularly around their father. One of Rion’s biggest pet peeves against Phillip is how pretentious he can be, all poetry and no fight.

  1. What are their favourite things about each other?

When they were younger, Rion secretly envied how much attention his mother shed on Phillip; as such, they share the fact they care about their parents, and, despite their battles, this must bring them closer to some extent.

  1. What traits do they share? Mannerisms, clothing, quirks, looks, etc?

Philllip (Matthew Lewis)

They have the same dominant-gene raven-black hair and similar sharp-cut jaws. As Costello bachelors and siblings with two years between their ages, they do have similar taste in outfits (though Rion tends towards more expensive-cut suits in darker shades, but he also has a terrible habit of tearing them easily). Both brothers tend to slick down their hair with a quiff in the front – although a nice formality (and something to make them appear more attractive possibly!), not every Costello brother actually slicks their hair, but Phillip and Rion are rarely out of hairwax.

Similar in image, not in personality or goals.

  1. Who has the strongest personality?

Rion (Rob James Collier)

Rion. In 2010, the beginning of the novel, Phillip can barely stand up to his older brother, not only afraid to, but also ashamed to. As well as the ‘status quo’, Phillip doesn’t quite know how to argue against Rion without being humiliated. If anything, it’s learnt habit on both their parts. Rion belittles Phillip because he knows he will get no backlash, and Phillip allows the belittlement because he expects insults from any train of thought he makes.

  1. How does their relationship change throughout your story?

It definitely has an element of role-reversal about it: as Phillip grows in confidence, Rion’s assured, brattish exterior suffers some major blows and we see his interior riddled with jealousy. I think that Phillip, whilst sharp in tongue about Rion, would definitely be willing to forgive his brother for his malicious behaviour – everybody must have some kind of reason for their actions. Rion, on the other hand, refuses to move on from the incidents that he believe Phillip did to him. Subtle vengeance. Think Evil Queen/Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time.

Sometimes the most interesting villains are those who were once pals with the protagonists (though, I’ll admit, I can hardly say that Phillip and Rion were particularly friendly to begin with). Well, that is a little peek into the lives and times of two of the Costello brothers. Check out other sibling pairs in the Beautiful People monthly tag. And, seeing as I made it into April’s one with a mere hour to go, you should check out other people’s posts.

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…


  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.


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!

All about 2014

I suppose 2014 was one of the strangest years I’ve had for a long while. After all, I entered it as a bushy-eyed eighteen-year-old starting the second term of my Psychology and Philosophy degree. And I seem to have finished it high in optimism and wisdom, but not so greatly in success. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve given up on writing by living in the moment.


It’s true – this shelf of the bookcase probably hasn’t changed since I was younger, but I know the other bookcases have evolved.


So the reading… Thinking about it, I read more books than it seems to me at first glance, particularly in the summer. I was sent swooning with Leah Raeder’s Unteachable. I got my friend Yawatta Hosby’s One By One free and speedily read the horror/thriller. I found a new favourite mystery author in the late Kyril Bonfiglioli. I finished the last Skulduggery Pleasant book a week before Christmas and still find myself nodding at the conclusion to the bestselling series. Vicious by VE Schwab chilled and thrilled me and set me eagerly anticipated A Darker Shade of Magic, Schwab’s next book for adults. I cracked through two-and-half steampunk books: Soulless, The Iron Wyrm Affair, and I’m currently reading the wonderful Cindy Spencer Pape’s Steam and Sorcery. I hurtled my way through Aiyana Jackson‘s novella Encante.

I was also lucky enough to interview Cindy, which started off my Steampunk Spotlight for steampunk and alt-history fantasy authors on the blog. Apart from a couple of ‘paint jobs’, this was the only major addition to the blog – well, that and my WIP page, which keeps track of the novels I’m writing. Like, the big ones I know I’m going to finish, even if I never edit the blasted things.

I was one of the many Steampunks – or Victoriana-dressed people from around the world, to attend the Lincoln Asylum VI, the largest solely Steampunk convivial in Europe, run by UK’s own Victorian Steampunk Society.


The area between the Cathedral and the Castle in Lincoln City


Compared to some years, I have not written as much, in terms of quantity. Last year, I was rattling off all the novels and short stories, but this year has been one with more dips and curves than I expected. I started the year thinking about what might have happened after my short story in the Fauxpocalypse anthology, which came out in print mid-January.

In February through June, I wrote very little but focused on my editing, of mostly WTCB, but also OJAP, the YA murder mystery I first wrote when I was a youth.

I completed NaNo in July, and came out with my most impressive NaNo yet, at 73K. I’m currently adding bits to the Steampunk novel, Horology, before I send it to my Alpha reader and it’s definitely going to hit its 80K target.

In August, I made the mistake of swapping back to contemporary after a long stint of SFF writing, and started writing an NA contemporary romance set in a fictional uni. My writings from then on to the rest of year – before my academia took me away from being able to actually scribe things down at all – were thus centred, though I did have another attempt (in vain) of rewriting a short psychological horror about a lady who encounters some graffiti that may or may not be destined to cause her death.

I also started querying WTCB properly this year. How’s it going? I honestly couldn’t tell you. However, I did get into the agent round of Pitch Slam, and, boosted by that, I posted the premise of WTCB in gifs. It was fun. It has Sherlock, The Doctor, and Jack Sparrow.

When the clock broke…


Emotionally, I had a lot of big events this year, too. In February, for instance, I dyed my hair red to raise money (£120 to be exact of the final total) for the British Heart Foundation. I had red hair for a good three months before it completely washed out. Oh, how I missed my golden curls in the end.

Whilst finishing my first year at university was stressful enough, one of my good friends moved away. I lost my position as Social Secretary on the Quidditch team, but gained the role of Treasurer for the Swing Dance Society – and, for a while was even playing Secretary and President when my friends and colleagues where away. Around the same time, I got confirmed into the Catholic Church, and finally managed to put my trust in God.


I started to illustrate quotes from my books with photos I’d taken.


Oh, and this happened:


I hope you had a good 2014 and a Merry Christmas. Happy New Year for tomorrow and may your 2015 be full of wonders, too.

An Unfolding Universe

As mentioned last week by a blog commenter, I have very many ideas. A couple of nights ago, I was thinking of editing When the Clock Broke, but then I became distracted by the thought of the ruffled society beyond the events of the trilogy, and the novella of a relation who ultimately saves the universe. In a non-superpowery way. He saves the universe in the sense that nuclear war is crushed before it germinates, and a greater understanding, if not harmony, bonds two landmasses of primarily war, and the three distinct classes.

‘Steampunk Family Portrait’ – photograph by Puspa Lohmeyer

It’s not very many years, but it is the third generation down from Phillip and the other cast of When the Clock Broke (it focuses on the grown-up life of Phillip’s nephew’s son, see), and the marvellously inspirational Dolls of New Albion opera shows exactly how a world can change across even a single generation. I am envious of Paul Shapera’s story-telling and the way he perfectly shows how the actions of a particular character can shape the world.

In my world, the characters don’t so much provide as large a push to society, but they do their little elements. Phillip and Aidelle’s courtship redefines arranged marriage; their daughter’s keeping of her maiden-name/morganatic marriage (of which, ironically, her grandfather mockingly says Phillip will encourage in chapter eight of WTCB) comes from her involvement in growing feminism – and the track in Dolls of which this reminds me, is ‘The Movement 1’, of rallies and romance.

Further, like a chain of events, Zoey’s parents meet at the same feminist rally at which Zara’s parents meet; had the characters’ personalities been different – had Tim not done the honest thing by Delsie and proposed before their relationship got too serious, had Billy not been a simply butcher’s assistant and had the guts to stay by Jae when she fell pregnant – the two women may never have developed a deadly rivalry when they meet and destroy each other in WTCB2.

I could say the same of Lucy’s childless compassion to bully her in-laws into adopting one of her late servants’ twins as their new maid, that Tia would never have fallen for Peter, had her heart broken, been raped, and married Rion out of vengeance for the family that threw her across the timestreams.

I should say: spoilers.


And then there comes the matter of the classist sterilisation. Who started that? Beyond the Costellos, one might say Max, Ezekial Maverique (it’s been so long that I’ve written about The Continent’s 80s era, that I had to search my MS for that name) and his scientific experiments. There is still controversy over whether the same band of experimenters, testing their formula once they rebuilt and restructured Max’s machine, started the virus/influenza of 2001 that led to said complex above paragraph about Tia.

If Freidrich had never had an interest in genetics (and nor had Gabiee, with her surprising morality); if Cassandra had never agreed to marry the Colonel, or if her brother or cousin had not been able to make the wedding… I wonder what would have happened if Zara had managed to steal Freidrich’s papers and burnt them in the time-manipulator, rather than disappearing. Would she have had to access Gabiee’s latent/recessive psychic ability, leaving the woman to take better care of her unborn first son from his father’s wrath and eventually steal her husband’s papers?

These are ifs, but they do centre around the Costello family and their friends/companions. I’m not sure whether enough for a consequential upheaval of the climate and universe, but that’s a start.

But if Iuan Costello had never been conceived…maybe the class and geographical tensions would have remained. My long walk for a short drink of water: I want to write the adventure romance of this character who finds more than he bargains for when he travels across The forbidden Big Sea. Maybe he’s an explorer. Maybe he’s a warrior. There may no longer be an active war, but the Warfare Education remains for interest.

In any case, The Continent is going to change because of the actions of one man descended from lesser heroes, and, socially, greater people.

And, maybe, just maybe, I’ll sneak in some Dieselpunk.

Quidditch and Away

Hey, guys, I won’t be on the blog for the next couple of days, as I’m playing a bit of Quidditch away from home until Mondayish. In the meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this thought:

“Do not count your wishes, for they will be forever many, but count your blessings, the more precious few.”

(Phillip, When the Clock Broke)

Quoting Myself

I have started to get back into YouTubing, and I did a brief recording to entertain myself whilst going through a round of editing. People always say that we should read our MS aloud, and, whilst I was enjoying making a Stephen Fry voice narrate to me, I decided it was time to use my own voice.

And it’s not too bad. Even for a rough recording.

Anyway, I sent my recording to the Beta whose edits I was following. Her surprising response made me smile:

oooohhh MUCH MUCH SQUEE!!!

“if there is any purpose we fulfil by existing, it is in loving”

“love has ultimate power that human brevity cannot conceive or deny beyond good and evil”

and the intensity with which you drop you voice on “and I always will” and “Aidelle means everything” ……. hkagfdysdf

Reminds me of that gorgeous poem you wrote from Phillip’s perspective ages ago – gah, I loved/still love that.

And how was I to reply to that? By recording said Phillip’s poem:

I find myself thinking of these same things, sometimes. Whilst Phillip’s love speech is full is of eloquence and drama, other bits of his dialogue I find myself picking out, too. What can I say? I like quoting myself. I like some of the way I used to write – the freedom of the first draft, I guess – and this is no different; this stuff about ideas and change and life haunts me in lovely writing from beyond the pages of the prose.

I’m tired. It’s been a long week, and my mind isn’t functioning as well as it should be.