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Auditions for Mrs. Hawking reading at McKinney Repertory Theater!

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Categories: mrs. hawking, performance, Tags: ,

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The open auditions have just been announced for the staged reading of “Mrs. Hawking” at the McKinney Repertory Theater in McKinney, Texas!

They will be held on Friday, February 21st from 6:30 to 9:30 PM and Saturday, February 22nd from 1:00 to 4:00PM. The location is the McKinney Performing Arts Center at 111 North Tennessee in McKinney. The reading will be held on March 22nd at 2PM in the same place.

So if you’re in the McKinney, Texas area and would like to help bring these characters to life, go to the audition and give it a shot! Information can be found at the theater’s official site here.

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The Hawking timeline

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When writing a story, particularly as far-reaching as with as many parts as I’d like this one to have, it’s very important to me that the various elements work out logistically. One of those ways is that it follows a workable timeline. I put a lot of work into making sure that the chronology in this story proceeds in a way that both makes sense and serves the story. It’s also a great way to procrastinate writing in a way that is maybe-kinda-sorta useful, and feels like writing. ;-)

This isn’t necessarily set in stone, if I find a reason to shift the chronology, or to nudge an event a year or two. But it’s interesting to have for reference, and to get a sense of cause and effect. I plan on adding to this as more significant events emerge in the plot, but here’s a good start to things that have already been established.

Some spoilers contained ahead!

~~~

1813 – Gareth Stanton is born

1819 – Dawson Frost is born

1820 – Cornelia (Stanton) is born

1823 – Ambrose Marshall Hawking is born

1829 – Reginald Prescott Hawking is born

1831 – Margaret Spenser is born

1833 – Walter Granger is born in Yorkshire

1837 – Cedric Brockton is born

1838 – Elizabeth Danvers is born
– Queen Victoria is crowned

1839 – Gareth Stanton and Cornelia (Stanton) are married

1840 – Victoria Stanton is born to Gareth and Cornelia Stanton

1846 – Cornelia Stanton dies

1850 – Celeste Leighton is born

1851 – Ambrose Hawking and Margaret Spencer are married
– Justin Lionel Hawking is born to Ambrose and Margaret Hawking

1853 – Clara Partridge is born
– Nathaniel James Hawking is born to Ambrose and Margaret Hawking

1855 – George Bracknell is born
– Elena Zakharova is born

1857 – April 14th – Princess Beatrice is born to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
May 10th – The Indian Rebellion begins

1858 – Catherine Stone II is born to Edward and Catherine Stone
June 20th – The Indian Rebellion ends
Arthur Swann is born

1859 – Victoria Stanton and Reginald Hawking first meet
– Elizabeth Danvers and Dawson Frost are married

1860 – Mary Frances Stone is born to Edward and Catherine Stone
– Reginald Hawking and Victoria Stanton are married

1865 – Gabriel Matthew Hawking is born dead to Reginald and Victoria Hawking

1869 – Gabriel Leighton is born to Celeste Leighton

1870 – Celeste Leighton and Jacob Fairmont are married

1874 – Nathaniel Hawking and Clara Partridge are married

1875 – Beatrice Hawking is born to Nathaniel and Clara Hawking

1877 – George Bracknell and Catherine Stone II are married
– Reginald Prescott Hawking II is born to Nathaniel and Clara Hawking

1879 – August – Reginald Hawking dies of a burst ventricle in London, England
– Violet Bracknell is born to Catherine and George Bracknell
– Catherine Stone dies of scarlet fever in India

1880 – Edward Stone dies of scarlet fever in India
– William Gladstone wins the general election for Prime Minister
– Battle of Kandahar is decisive victory for Britain in the Second Afghan War
– September – Victoria Hawking finishes her year and one month of mourning
– Gabriel Leighton is kidnapped by Cedric Brockton
– October – Mrs. Hawking
– Mary Stone comes to work for Victoria Hawking
– Gabriel Leighton is rescued and returned to Celeste Fairmont

1881 – April – Victoria Hawking finishes second mourning
– Hannah Mason is raped by Christoph Austerlitz
– June – Vivat Regina
– Mary Stone and Arthur Swann first meet

1882 – October – Victoria Hawking finishes ordinary mourning

1883 – February – Base Instruments
– April – Victoria Hawking finishes half-mourning

1885 – Miss Stanton
– Victoria Hawking and Elizabeth Frost encounter each other in London again

1886 – Mrs. Frost

1887 – Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

1888 – July – Jack the Ripper murders
Ripper

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“Why won’t you trust me?” — early draft of a confrontation from Vivat Regina

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This is one of the earliest scenes I wrote for Vivat Regina, and it turned out to be a very crucial one. Bernie pointed out that, while Mary’s decision in this one is that yes, she would like to become a “new Mrs. Hawking” of sorts, Nathaniel’s is at least starting to reject his old desire to become like the Colonel. He idolized the Colonel his whole life, and it’s been a difficult thing for him to swallow how much pain his hero caused Mrs. Hawking. Him backing away from that, at least the parts of the Colonel that caused that pain, is a big step on his development toward becoming a true feminist. It’s a crucial part of being a good male ally. You can’t fix a problem before you admit you have it, and Nathaniel’s doing so demonstrates his very real desire to learn, and do better than before.

~~~

NATHANIEL:
Aunt Victoria— why won’t you trust me?

MRS. HAWKING:
Oh, do spare me, Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL:
No. No, you mustn’t put me off. I know I haven’t been the quickest study when it comes to this business of yours, but I’ve been giving it a serious go. I surely do mean to be of help to you, and by God, on occasion I even have. Isn’t that so?

MRS. HAWKING:
Yes. You have.

NATHANIEL:
Then… why won’t you let me on? Really let me on? Is it— is it because I’m a man?

MRS. HAWKING:
Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL:
Is it because I’m not clever enough? Do you think that once in a tough spot, I’ll lose my head and disappoint—

MRS. HAWKING:
You look so much like him!

(Pause.)

MRS. HAWKING:
Too damn much.

MARY:
Like whom? Do you mean— the Colonel?

NATHANIEL:
You never told me that. Others have, but not you.

(MARY looks to the portrait on the mantle.)

MARY:
I never noticed it.

MRS. HAWKING:
The years and the whiskers throw it off, but all the men in the family have that look. Your father, your uncle, and you. Your boy will have it too before long. Strong jaw, devil-may-care grin, handsome as the day is long. The sort of face to win anything a man could want in the world. But that was face I first looked into twenty years ago when a promising young soldier was first transferred to New Guinea and trammeled up my life forever. The same eyes from which I had to hide everything of any meaning to me so I might be permitted to have it.

NATHANIEL:
I don’t want you to feel that way about me. Not anymore.

MRS. HAWKING:
I know that, and not for nothing. But the years I lost and the pains I took…

NATHANIEL:
I know.

MRS. HAWKING:
Yes. Now you know. So it galls me, boy. I tell you, it galls me to look into those eyes and that face and give all the game away to them.

NATHANIEL:
I can’t help who I look like.

MRS. HAWKING:
No. But all the same, he’s in everything in you. His blood and his name and every effort in the world to be just like him.

NATHANIEL:
But… I’m not like him.

MRS. HAWKING:
To your eternal sorrow.

NATHANIEL:
Still. I’m not him. I can learn better.

(Pause.)

NATHANIEL:
And I mean to. But I’ll need you to teach me. I can’t do it without you.

(NATHANIEL draws himself up with a quiet, cold dignity.)

NATHANIEL:
Rather… none of us could. The Colonel neither. Because the God’s honest truth is you don’t know if he couldn’t have learned. You never gave him the chance.

(NATHANIEL turns and strides quickly from the room.)

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“After the Funeral” — some scribbling on Nathaniel and Justin

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This is the first time I’ve ever written about Justin Hawking, Nathaniel’s older brother, done on August 29th for 31 Plays in 31 Days 2013. I didn’t know too much about him then– where he lives, what he does, what kind of participation he can have in the larger story –but I knew I need to set him up to be able to contribute some sort of dramatic tension. This scene was kind of figuring out who Justin is, what he’s like. A major struggle of Nathaniel’s will be needing to move past his patriarchal upbringing, and the issues that come from being the youngest adult member of a family of old-fashioned and hypermasculine alpha males. I like the idea of setting up a conflict between him and his cool, charming-but-somewhat-jerkish older brother.

I’m not sure if this scene would actually happen the way it’s written here, but it’s interesting to think about.

~~~

Day #29 – “After the Funeral”

(NATHANIEL, dressed in funerary blacks, stands alone in the study. Enter JUSTIN, his older brother, similarly dressed.)

JUSTIN: Nathan?

NATHANIEL: In here.

JUSTIN: Wondered where you’d gotten off to.

NATHANIEL: I wanted a bit of quiet.

JUSTIN: Certainly can understand that. Must say, the tide of mourners and well-wishers has started to wear on me as well.

NATHANIEL: Well, Uncle was a war hero. He had plenty of admirers.

JUSTIN: Are you all right? I know the two of you were quite close.

NATHANIEL: Afraid I’m not, Justin. I’m terribly blue over it. I am quite terribly blue.

JUSTIN: Well, buck up, little brother. We’re all going to miss the old fellow. It’s even put a crack in Father’s mien. I don’t think he ever expected he’d outlive his younger brother.

(Pause.)

NATHANIEL: That’s not all of it, though.

JUSTIN: Oh?

NATHANIEL: It’s only that… well, it’s Aunt Victoria.

JUSTIN: What of her?

NATHANIEL: Didn’t you notice?

JUSTIN: Nothing particularly.

NATHANIEL: You didn’t happen to pay any notice to the widow at the man’s funeral?

JUSTIN: I stay well out of Aunt Victoria’s way if I can help it, you know that.

NATHANIEL: Well, if you hadn’t been hiding from her behind Mother’s hoop skirt, you might have noticed how she looked.

JUSTIN: Which was…?

NATHANIEL: Like a statue. Like a mask carved out of stone. All through the service, all through the receiving line after…

JUSTIN: In fairness, she is the strangest person I’ve ever met.

NATHANIEL: For Heaven’s sake, Justin!

JUSTIN: Well, she is.

NATHANIEL: She hardly said a word, she wouldn’t look a soul in the eye— that doesn’t strike you as the least bit troubling?

JUSTIN: She never says a word to me. Or looks at me, for that matter. Unless she’s upset with me. In which case this seemed a positive.

NATHANIEL: You’re an absolute ass.

JUSTIN: What have I done?

NATHANIEL: The woman just lost her husband of twenty years, you tit. She must be destroyed. And now she’s quite alone in the world.

JUSTIN: I suppose.

NATHANIEL: It doesn’t seem right to me.

JUSTIN: Perhaps not, but what’s to be done?

NATHANIEL: Someone ought to step in. See that she’s taken care of, that she has some proper company.

JUSTIN: Oh, heavens. How very dashing of you.

NATHANIEL: It’s a matter of responsibility.

JUSTIN: So now you’ve named yourself head of the family, eh?

NATHANIEL: Father lives too far off to do it, I’m the only one left in London. And it isn’t as if you would do it.

JUSTIN: That’s because I’m not a fool.

NATHANIEL: Very gentlemanly, Justin.

JUSTIN: Come now! It’s not as if she cares much for any of us.

NATHANIEL: That is most unkind, and not true besides.

JUSTIN: She has a strange way of showing it, then. Because I always got distinctly the opposite impression. Or else she’s just horrid.

NATHANIEL: You are horrid.

JUSTIN: Well, there’s one thing on which you and Auntie likely agree. All I mean is— your instincts are commendable, little brother, but I’m not entirely sure your effort shouldn’t go to waste.

NATHANIEL: Whatever else, the Colonel loved her. And he would want us to see that she was taken care of by his family. I mean to see that the decent thing is done.

JUSTIN: Suit yourself, Nathan. But she won’t thank you for it.

NATHANIEL: I don’t plan to do it for thanks.

8/29/13

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The art of names

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Categories: development, influences, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

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I have to say, one of my favorite parts of the writing and character-creating process is coming up with names. I like it when I can make them subtly significant, if only in my own head, or at least give my characters names I’m going to enjoy saying over and over again.

I’ve written about how Mrs. Hawking’s name is supposed to be deliberately disassociated from her in-universe, but behind the scenes it was carefully chosen. Her married name, Hawking, came first, because it’s a good solid English name and conveys her bird-of-prey nature. It took much longer to choose her first name, but I went with Victoria because I’ve always loved it, the “victory” meaning connotes her warlike nature, and because of the connection with the regnant queen. Stanton, her maiden name, also took some time to determine, and was chosen mostly because I like the way it sounds.

The character of Mary Stone basically just walked into my mind and introduced herself by name. I love when that happens, it feels as if I’m writing about a real person. Thinking about it, I think there was some influence from the fact that she is in some ways a gender-swapped analogue to Dr. Watson, and Watson’s wife is named Mary. I think Mary’s name fits her so well I’m kind of sorry that her surname will change when she gets married. I have given some thought to who her eventual husband will be, and while I don’t want to mention anything about him yet, I chose his surname with the specific intention that I shouldn’t mind using it to refer to Mary. Her middle name, Frances, came from Frances Kimpel, my model for Mrs. Hawking. I very nearly made Mrs. Hawking’s middle name Charlotte, after Mary’s model Charlotte Oswald, but I didn’t think it sounded right with the rest of our hero’s name. I plan on paying tribute to Charlotte’s name in another way in the future, though.

When I noticed that both she and Mrs. Hawking were named after prominent English queens I decided I would continue on with that trend where appropriate. That’s where her eventual Moriarty, Elizabeth Frost, got her name from. I’m kind of sorry that Nathaniel’s wife Clara doesn’t fit the mold, but I think it fits her too much to change. Their daughter Beatrice doesn’t quite, as there is no English queen by that name, but it was the name of the youngest Victorian princess. Reggie, their son, is so called because of course Nathaniel would name his son after his hero.

As for Nathaniel himself, he is named after my friend Nat Budin. Not for any particular reason, except that I like both Nat and his name.

Stephanie Karol, who read the roles of Celeste Fairmont and Grace Monroe in the Mrs. Hawking Bare Bones reading, commented that I seem to like naming patriarchs “Reginald.” Both the Colonel and the head of the society family in The Tailor at Loring’s End both have it. I like the name, but it does have kind of an old-fashioned masculine sound to it.

Cedric Brockton sounds solidly British and upper-class, perhaps to the point of parody, but I like the way it sounds. Ambrose Hawking came from the same impulse. It might be a little absurd, but I guess I have a taste for names like that.

Gabriel Hawking came from the fact that Gabriel is one of my all-time favorite names. I wanted something powerful and striking, given that the mention of the name has a rather totemic quality when uttered in this story.

Justin’s first name came from something silly. I remember thinking that Ryan Kacani, the actor who played for Nathaniel at the Bare Bones reading, looked like a Justin to me for some reason. So I gave that name to Nathaniel’s brother.

Johanna Braun, the name the client gives in Vivat Regina, was chosen because it translates from German basically to “Joan Brown,” as plain and nondescript a name as they come. There is a reason I wanted it to be so generic, but I won’t say what it is here.

Arthur Swann, also a character introduced in Vivat Regina, is also named in the vein of English royalty, though King Arthur is fictional. Also it’s my granddad’s name and I always liked it.

There’s also a bit of a bird theme going on. The Hawking family, Arthur Swann the police man, Clara’s maiden name being Partridge. It doesn’t have any specific meaning, but the presence of a bird name means that they are a character to watch.

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“Serving” — scene from Vivat Regina

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My boyfriend Bernie was the one who came up with the idea that Nathaniel would have served before. Because he so idolized the Colonel, he would make an effort to emulate him in any way he could. But while he gave it his best shot, army life turned out to not be the best use of his talents. This is to set up the fact that while his traditionally male outlook might lead him to think he needs to be a warrior in order to be of use to Mrs. Hawking, his actual abilities will make him useful in a totally different way.

~~~

MARY:
I say, Nathaniel— is that a bruise?

NATHANIEL:
Oh, this? It’s nothing, I assure you.

MARY:
Nothing? You look as if you’ve taken quite a bash!

MRS. HAWKING:
Wherever did you get that?

NATHANIEL:
Just— from sport.

MRS. HAWKING:
Sport? Taken up boxing, have you?

NATHANIEL:
As a matter of fact.

MRS. HAWKING:
Surely you’re joking.

NATHANIEL:
Not at all, Auntie.

MARY:
Why on earth have you done that?

NATHANIEL:
Well— if you must know— it’s to make myself more useful to you. So I can handle myself and lend another arm if things come to it!

MRS. HAWKING:
Nathaniel. Going a few rounds of gentleman’s boxing is hardly going to ready you for the sort of roughs we encounter.

NATHANIEL:
It isn’t right to just hang back and leave it to you ladies. What kind of man would that make me?

MRS. HAWKING:
Ha!

NATHANIEL:
Go ahead and laugh. But how do you think I feel, knowing the two of you are putting yourselves in danger and I’m not fit to help you?

MRS. HAWKING:
I don’t think you quite understand. There are no Marquess of Queensbury rules when you’re fighting for your life.

NATHANIEL:
Even Mary’s had to handle herself. And she just a girl!

MARY:
Sir!

NATHANIEL:
No offense intended, Mary. But if you can swing that poker surely I’m worth a crack or two.

(MARY looks to MRS. HAWKING, who sighs.)

MRS. HAWKING:
Very well, then, Nathaniel. If you mean to have a go, have a go at me.

NATHANIEL:
I beg your pardon?

MRS. HAWKING:
If you think you’re fit to take on a real threat.

NATHANIEL:
I say, Auntie, how could I?

MRS. HAWKING:
You ought to know what you’re up against. Show me what you’re made of.

NATHANIEL:
I don’t know—

MRS. HAWKING:
Take his coat, Mary.

(He and MARY look at each other a moment. Then he shakes his head and throws up his hands. She steps forward and he shrugs out of his jacket. She places it aside as he begins turning up his shirt cuffs.)

MRS. HAWKING:
Now come on!

(Uncertainly, NATHANIEL puts up his fists and advances on her. He takes a few half-hearted swings, which she dodges easily, even walking backward.)

MRS. HAWKING:
Is that all? You must do better than that!

(NATHANIEL starts punching in earnest, but still she evades him easily. At last he throws himself at her, and she moves like lightning, landing a sound blow almost too fast to see that knocks him to the ground.)

MRS. HAWKING:
And if you can’t, you’d best keep out of the way.

(She exits. MARY rushes over to NATHANIEL as he pulls himself up off the ground.)

NATHANIEL:
Well, I’ve made a fool of myself.

MARY:
Oh, not at all.

NATHANIEL:
Go on.

MARY:
She’s been in training for years.

NATHANIEL:
And made short work of me.

MARY:
For my part, I think it’s quite noble of you. That you’re not content to hang back out of harm’s way.

NATHANIEL:
Still, perhaps she’s right. Perhaps I’m not cut out for this.

MARY:
There’s more to this work than knives and brawling. It’s not the end of everything to not be a martial man.

NATHANIEL:
Here now! I’ve a martial side. Why, I’ll have you know I served my bit a few years back!

MARY:
You did?

NATHANIEL:
Don’t sound so surprised!

MARY:
Forgive me, it’s only… well, you’re a gentleman.

NATHANIEL:
And I’ve lived a soft life accordingly, is that it?

MARY:
It isn’t necessarily to be expected of a gentleman.

NATHANIEL:
Miss Stone, I idolized my uncle from the time I was a boy. I’ve spent my whole life wanting to be like him. You can bet that when I was old enough I stepped up to serve my queen and country just as he did.

MARY:
My, sir! Well, I am sorry I expected any less. I am duly impressed.

NATHANIEL:
Oh, you ought not to be.

MARY:
It’s very admirable! You must tell me sometime of your adventures and your exploits as a dashing servant of the empire.

NATHANIEL:
It was hardly that. Yes, I enlisted when I was twenty or so. But do you know where they stationed me?

MARY:
India? Singapore?

NATHANIEL:
Newcastle. At the naval headquarters in the north country. When they learned I was a finance man they assigned me to keep the books for the armory.

MARY:
I see.

NATHANIEL:
Hardly the adventure I imagined it. And not much in the Colonel’s style.

MARY:
They saw you had a talent and they put it to use, though. I can’t help but think we ought to do the same.

NATHANIEL:
I did so want to be of use to her somehow.

MARY:
And so you will. Who knows, Nathaniel? We may run up against something that only you can do.

(Pause. Then NATHANIEL laughs.)

NATHANIEL:
That was quite a belt she gave me. I wonder how long she’s wanted to do that.

8/31/13

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“The Lieutenant’s Daughter” — scribbling on the backstory of Reginald and Ambrose

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Categories: character, gilded cages, scenes, Tags: , , , ,

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This was an experiment in a Hawking backstory scene, written on August 24th for 31 Plays in 31 Days 2013. Back in the day, a young soldier by the name of Reginald Hawking tells his older brother Ambrose of a remarkable young woman he’s just made the acquaintance of. I used this as an exercise about getting the point across even though the characters do not have an accurate assessment of the situation. See for yourself how well I did.

I’m not sure this conversation could have ever actually taken place in the timeline– because Reginald would have to be stationed in the colonies, and his older brother would already have been married and settled by then and likely not living close enough to have a real-time conversation with. Justin and Nathaniel might have even been born by this point. It’s a shame it’s not canon, so to speak; it’s thus far the first and only thing I’ve ever written in Ambrose’s voice. But nothing is ever really wasted, even if it can’t be used in its original form. You may also notice that pieces of this scene were adapted for use in the “Like a Loss” ten-minute play.

~~~

Day #24 – “The Lieutenant’s Daughter”

(Enter REGINALD, with a giant black eye.)

AMBROSE: What the devil happened to you?

REGINALD: Do you know the Lieutenant Stanton? The territorial governor?

AMBROSE: The territorial governor blacked your eye? By Jove, Reggie, whatever did you do?

REGINALD: It was his daughter.

AMBROSE: He blacked your eye over his daughter!?

REGINALD: No, Ambrose–

AMBROSE: Reginald, what’s come over you!?

REGINALD: Ambrose! She did it! She blacked my eye!

AMBROSE: You’re joking! His daughter?

REGINALD: Hand to God, sir.

AMBROSE: Still– I must ask– what did you do to her?

REGINALD: I– well, I tried to rescue her. I thought she was about to fall from the tree she was in.

AMBROSE: She was up a tree?

REGINALD: Climbing it. I thought she was falling, so I raced over to her. But she landed like a cat, whirled out of my arms, and her fist shot out faster than I could blink.

AMBROSE: Why, the little minx!

REGINALD: Like a striking cobra, she was. Hardly saw her move.

AMBROSE: Had she taken leave of her senses?

REGINALD: Damn near knocked me bum over teakettle.

AMBROSE: Her father had a thing or two to say about it, I’m sure.

REGINALD: He didn’t know.

AMBROSE: How could he not know?

REGINALD: I didn’t tell him, at any rate.

AMBROSE: But such behavior–

REGINALD: Ambrose! Surely I’d frightened the girl when I came at her from nowhere!

AMBROSE: Well, naturally. But surely the lieutenant wondered at your blighted eye!

REGINALD: Told him I’d gotten it boxing with the lads. She has enough of a hook that you’d never know the difference, eh?

AMBROSE: That’s barking madness, Reg.

REGINALD: Jolly well may be.

AMBROSE: Did the girl seem off otherwise to yu?

REGINALD: That’s the trick, Amber. She wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen.

AMBROSE: How so?

REGINALD: I hadn’t done much more than see her before that. She spoke not a word but she had the sharpest eyes that ever mine had met. And for all the fight I must have given her dashing up like that, she took her shot as quick and cool as any man on the line. No dithering, no starting. Just one cold, dead-on strike.

AMBROSE: Surely you can’t have seen all that in the failing of a startled young girl.

REGINALD: There was something about her, Ambrose. Something… jolly well remarkable.

AMBROSE: She must have given you a right old drubbing. You’re acting odd enough.

REGINALD: Very funny.

AMBROSE: Well, at least now you know better than to bother with her any longer.

REGINALD: Bother with her? Far from it, brother.

(He gets up and exits.)

REGINALD: I think I’d like to marry her.

8/24/13

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Across the universes

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Categories: looking ahead, supplemental, Tags: , , ,

It was suggested to me once by Jami Brandli, one of my excellent writing mentors at Lesley, that these Mrs. Hawking stories should exist in the same universe as The Tailor at Loring’s End and Mrs. Loring, stories I told about Fairfield, a small town in Connecticut, in the 1930s. They are set in fairly distinct milieus, but they both take place in more or less the real world and deal with somewhat similar ideas– they tend to be mysteries, and deal with themes like societal injustice, classism, and feminism. So there’s certainly something appealing about the idea. Thinking about it, the one other story-world of mine that I think could integrate into those others is The Stand, my series of cowboy stories from the American westward expansion period. It’s another historical fiction that takes place in more or less the real world. I like the idea of connections, that these various characters and story that I’m interested in could relate to each other in some way– maybe even meet.

The timelines do overlap a bit, but they are offset enough to curtail character interactions between the three. Space also makes for a real divide. The Stand takes place in 1849 in California, Mrs. Hawking in 1880s London, and Tailor at Loring’s End in Connecticut of 1934. To illustrate the point, it turns out that Mary Stone and Reginald Loring, patriarch of one of the important family in the stories, are about the same age. Which means, for example, if I ever wanted the leads of Mrs. Hawking and of The Tailor of Loring’s End to meet, Mary would be an old woman, and Mrs. Hawking herself probably wouldn’t be alive anymore.

But I would like to figure out some way to make connections between them. Character appearances, family relationships, that sort of thing. Bernie suggested that maybe Alice Loring from Tailor would be a good candidate for Mary’s eventual recruitment, when she assembles a team of heroic women. I also like the idea of some cool American cowboy– or more likely, cowgirl –showing up in London and bringing an adventure to Mrs. Hawking. Those two stories are thirty years, a continent, and an ocean apart, but perhaps an aged version of someone in The Stand or even one of their descendants. I’m not sure what the best way to do it is, but I would like to figure it out.

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How to introduce Clara

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Categories: character, development, vivat regina, Tags: , , , ,

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Even before I had any idea who the character of Clara Hawking was, I knew she had to exist. Nathaniel was to be in every way fitting into and profiting from the current social order, so part of that meant he had to be married. I’d already finished the script of Mrs. Hawking before I’d given her much thought. Once I considered her, though, it didn’t take long before I figured out what service she would be to the story, her weaponized traditional femininity existing in contrast to Mrs. Hawking’s complete rejection of traditional femininity. I think Clara has the potential to be a very interesting character, so I’ve been pondering how to bring her into things.

In the very early planning stages of Vivat Regina, I wrote a bit of Clara with the vague notion that she could be included. The very first thing I ever wrote of her was a monologue where she, under the guise of perfect friendly politeness, needled Mrs. Hawking for what a pain she is. It’s a pretty funny piece, and I’d like to use it in some form. But this, nor anything else with her, ended up making it into the first draft of the script.

There’s a lot to unpack with Clara story-wise, specifically about how she’s going to feel about Nathaniel’s involvement in his aunt’s work. I haven’t quite figured out what her reaction is going to be, but he’s been putting himself in danger to participate. He has an unusually close relationship with a maidservant, and while I’m taking liberties with the setting where I need to, that was unheard of in this time and place. He’s challenging a social order on behalf of women who don’t fit into their place in the world as comfortably as she does. And he hasn’t told her about any of it yet. How’s she going to feel? What’s her response going to be? I don’t want to dash that off; I think there could be a lot of interesting story in her and Nathaniel’s relationship.

But to include that in Vivat Regina would have tipped the focus a little too heavily on Nathaniel. While he can and will certainly take center stage sometime, it is important to me that these remain fundamentally stories about women. Mary and Mrs. Hawking, their relationship, their struggles, are to be prioritized, especially when we’re only into the second story.

However, after having put together a draft of Vivat Regina, I find it’s somewhat in need of a subplot. In its current state, it pushes along the course of the plot pretty unrelentingly, which is a fairly typical problem my work tends to have, at least in the early drafts. I find myself struggling to figure out exactly what would be the appropriate extra thread. But I suppose the obvious thing to include is Clara.

I’ve mentioned the problem with having her in– I don’t want to dash off any story I can tell about her, and I don’t want to shift the focus of this second piece too far away from Mary and Mrs. Hawking. But perhaps it’s possible to just introduce her for now, in preparation to deal with her more seriously in future stories. I am kind of already doing that with Arthur Swann, who makes his first appearance in Vivat Regina, and while he does serve a purpose to the plot, is mostly just being set up to feature more significantly later.

If I did that with Clara, I’d have to make sure she doesn’t feel tacked on or shoehorned in. She would have to be relevant in some way, without blowing her dramatic potential. I’m not sure how that could be accomplished yet, but it’s something I’m currently pondering. A solid, integrated subplot would not only improve Vivat Regina, I could use it as an opportunity to set up further stories in the series, which would make the overall series stronger.

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“The Other Mrs. Hawking” — scribblings on Clara Hawking

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Categories: character, development, scenes, vivat regina, Tags: , , , ,

After the Bare Bones Mrs. Hawking reading, Brad Smith, the actor who read for Cedric Brockton, commented that it might be interesting for the characters to encounter “the other Ms. Hawking,” as in, Nathaniel’s wife, and see what she thought of the whole business her husband had been drawn into. What I’d want to do with this character is make her a model of weaponized femininity– extremely happy with her place in society and her gender identity, but using it to her advantage as a sharp, strong femme woman. Of course, you can probably guess how Mrs. Hawking feels about her.

This was originally written on August 22nd, 2013, with the vague notion that it might become part of Vivat Regina, the first sequel and the second story in the series. I’m not sure if it will ultimately be included in that story, but I very much want to use it at some point, in a story where there is room for Clara to have a substantial role.

~~~

Day #22 – “The Other Mrs. Hawking”

MRS. HAWKING: You shall have the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Mrs. Hawking.

MARY: I beg your pardon?

MRS. HAWKING: Not me. The other Mrs. Hawking.

(Enter CLARA HAWKING, curvy and beautiful, in a flurry of activity and sweeping skirts.)

CLARA: Aunt Victoria!

MRS. HAWKING: Clara.

(She rushes over and kisses MRS. HAWKING’s cheek.)

CLARA: You haven’t visited us since Christmas! We were beginning to worry that you might have bricked yourself up inside that study of yours. Of course Nathaniel is glad to be seeing so much more of you. He says he’s enjoyed your time together immensely. Miracles happen, I suppose! And this must be Mary, your lovely housegirl. Nathaniel speaks very highly of you, miss. Of course, any girl who’s managed to last as long as you have in dear Auntie’s employ must be a saint! Don’t mistake me, dear, we do love our Aunt Victoria, it’s only to know her is to love her, and we know her! You must come to supper more often. I know you’re fiercely independent, but what is family for, if not to take care of widowed relations and see that you eat properly every once in a while? I know that left to your own devices, you might starve to death over your books! I’m sure you try your hardest with her, Mary, but heaven knows it can be like trying to push the boulder up the hill! And I’m sure you’ve been missing Sophia and little Reggie as much as they’ve missed you. We’d hate to think we’re allowing you to go on lonely. Now! I’ll have Jane fetch the tea things, and I’ll catch you up on everything about the children since last you came about.

(She bustles out.)

MARY: Good heavens. She’s…

MRS. HAWKING: Indeed.

MARY: And so…

MRS. HAWKING: Oh, my, yes.

(Pause.)

MARY: I love her.

MRS. HAWKING: You would.

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