Tag Archives: elizabeth frost

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The arc-cycles that make up the story

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Categories: development, looking ahead, themes, Tags: , , ,

My boyfriend and frequent artistic collaborator Bernie Gabin has been instrumental in the development of much of the plotting of these stories. While not a particularly dedicated writer himself, he is incredibly talented when it comes to forming the mechanics of a logical, internally consistent plot that unfolds at the correct pace, and I often consult him on related matters. It was he that first proposed I regard, and move forward shaping, the Hawking stories as a series of what I’ll call “arc-cycles,” stories grouped off in sets of three that each develop a certain central idea.

The first arc-cycle we refer to as the Origin Cycle. Mrs. Hawking, Vivat Regina, and the upcoming third one that does not yet have a title. The point of these is to establish the team, so to speak. We learn who Mrs. Hawking, Mary, and Nathaniel are, what obstacles they’re going to face, and how they’re going to build themselves into this little unit that works together and supports one another.

The second arc-cycle is less well-formed yet, but I know for certain that it will, as any serialized storytelling form must, involve upping the stakes. We will have established with the first trilogy that our three main characters make a formidable force for justice when they are banded together. But in this arc-cycle we will challenge that—we will up the challenge level of the things they face. I want to tell the story of Mrs. Hawking’s early life, in flashback in relation to a current case, that demonstrates why she’s become what she is today. I want to introduce Mrs. Hawking’s Moriarty, who will present her with her greatest challenge yet. And I want to send her up against that quintessential Victorian baddie, Jack the Ripper, whose violence against the most downtrodden and helpless women in society make him a perfect villain for our hero’s purpose. And all this will even culminate in the smashing of the new establishment in a way that changes the characters forever.

The third arc-cycle, then, will have to be about what’s built in its place. This is where the notion of the Hawk Family will come, as Mary proposes they become an organization rather than just a few stalwarts holding back the storm. I have even less of a firm notion of these, as they’re so far down the line yet, but I know that in all drama things that do not change die, and in serial storytelling in particular things must continue to grow into new forms. Changing the nature of the game is an appropriate direction for it to go, especially since Mary’s ascendance from Mrs. Hawking’s protégé to her successor will be a major theme of this arc-cycle. And if a different person is in charge, you can bet things are going to have to work a little differently.

Beyond that, I’ve no idea. I think at least for the moment that’s more than enough stories to tell. But who knows how far we can go once we get there?

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“The Difference Between Us” — scribbling on Misses Stanton and Danvers

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

The piece I wrote the day before this one was about a future supervillain of Mrs. Hawking’s, a woman who was her friend growing up in the Asian colonies, who is as smart as she is but choose to manipulate the system rather than fight against it. The piece I wrote for August 27th during 31 Plays in 31 Days 2013 shows them back when they were young Victoria Stanton and Elizabeth Danvers, before they were married and became Mrs. Hawking and Mrs. Frost. I think I will reproduce an awesome comment here by a friend named Kat Davis, because she perfectly summed up exactly what I was going for:

“…Mrs. Hawking up against someone who can meet her on even footing. Seeing her actually sort of lose her cool and lose that sort of detached mentor-ish tone she always has with Mary (and, to a slightly lesser extent, the nephew), is refreshing. I like that Frost gets her worked up, gets inside her guard and gets to her in a way we really never have seen anything else do. I especially like that Frost sort of clucks her tongue and shakes her head and looks down on Hawking, who is always so aloof and above it all. There’s condescension and even, or at least how it reads to me (and how I would read it), a touch of pity. And not because of how she was forced into a life she rejected. Not for what was done to her. But rather for what and who she is.”

You’ll note I am naming the major female figures in the Mrs. Hawking universe after the queens of England. We have Victoria and Mary already. Mrs. Hawking’s nemesis and opposite, then, is Elizabeth– one of the most powerful and brilliant of them all.

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Day #27 – “The Difference Between Us”

VICTORIA: What is that soldier up to, do you think? Hanging about like that?

ELIZABETH: There must be something he wants.

VICTORIA: Such as?

ELIZABETH: Could be any number of things. He could be on some assignment. He could want something from the territorial governor. Or…

VICTORIA: Or what?

ELIZABETH: Or a wife.

VICTORIA: Surely you’re not serious.

ELIZABETH: History has shown men are known to acquire wives from time to time. It happens to all of us before long.

VICTORIA: I am not about to be acquired by anyone, I promise you that.

ELIZABETH: Is that so?

VICTORIA: You know me, Elizabeth. Do you think I could bear to be any man’s nursemaid?

ELIZABETH: I doubt you’ll have much of a choice, when your father decides it’s time.

VICTORIA: Ha! That would require the leftenant to lift his notice to me long enough to recall that I exist.

ELIZABETH: Unmarried daughters lying around are often just inconvenient enough to attract attention.

VICTORIA: Even if that does happen, you can be certain I shan’t go quietly.

ELIZABETH: Oh? And what are you doing to do?

VICTORIA: Whatever it takes!

ELIZABETH: That’s not the way the world works, Victoria.

VICTORIA: Then blast the world.

ELIZABETH: I don’t think it should be so simple.

VICTORIA: What choice do we have? Else to buckle under?

ELIZABETH: I don’t mean to buckle.

VICTORIA: What, then?

ELIZABETH: I mean to make my best advantage.

VICTORIA: I don’t understand.

ELIZABETH: Why fight against the current when you’ve no hope to change its course? Instead, why not ride it where you wish to go?

VICTORIA: Because there’s no such place that it could take me. Is that what you want? Is that enough for you?

ELIZABETH: There is the difference between us, dear. I will not drown myself to spite the water.

8/27/13

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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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An anti-Mrs. Hawking

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Categories: gilded cages, looking ahead, scenes, Tags: , ,

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In a future story, I would love to give our hero an opponent who was the “anti-Mrs. Hawking,” a woman just as devious and formidable as she, but who uses and manipulates the system to take advantage of women’s social entrapment for her own ends. This is interesting because I think Mrs. Hawking’s usual opponents are men, not other women. They could have a secret war, and I think it should be someone who knows her, someone for whom such actions would be a deep betrayal. I also like the idea that she would know Mrs. Hawking’s ways. Our hero trades on being unsuspected and underestimated, but would not have that advantage over an opponent who knows her for what she is.

I actually like the idea that they grew up together, that they were good friends in their youth in New Guinea. I could include this character in the prequel that details that time. I think at that point I would give no hint to her future villainy, but establish her as having a mentality in conflict with our hero to foreshadow it. And so when she did recur later, as the villain of a later story, it would be particularly shocking to Mrs. Hawking, and seem all that more treacherous.

I call her Elizabeth Frost, nee Danvers. You’ll note I am naming the major female figures in the Mrs. Hawking universe after the queens of England. We have Victoria and Mary already. Mrs. Hawking’s nemesis and opposite, then, is Elizabeth– one of the most powerful and brilliant of them all.

I scribbled a small scene with her this summer. I’m not sure of all its details and it’s not grounded in a plot yet, but it gives a vague idea of who this woman is, and how she interacts with our hero:

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MRS. FROST: It’s no use, Victoria. I know you’re in here somewhere.

(MR. HAWKING emerges from the canopy on the balcony door and land catlike on the floor.)

MRS. FROST: Hmm. The canopy, very cunning. I would have guessed you’d be clinging to the transom.

MRS. HAWKING: It’s been a long time, Elizabeth.

MRS. FROST: Yes, it has. But some things never change.

MRS. HAWKING: I had wondered what become of you after that Frost man took you away. I never suspected this.

MRS. FROST: You make your own way in the world, and I make mine.

MRS. HAWKING: On the backs of helpless women?

MRS. FROST: You never did grasp how the world works, Victoria.

MRS. HAWKING: Oh, I grasp it. I just refuse to be complicit in it.

MRS. FROST: Complicit? No, not you, never you. You’ve never gone along with anything in your life when you could wage all-out war on it instead.

MRS. HAWKING: A world and a system I have spent my life defending helpless women against, you manipulate and exploit to your own advantage.

MRS. FROST: Oh, spare me your righteous wrath, darling.

MRS. HAWKING: You are as bad as any of them!

MRS. FROST: And you are hero, is that it? You are a beast in a menagerie pounding against the bars of your cage! For all your work and all your heroics, what have you done? So you pulled a few petty bacons from the fire. Nothing has changed, the world still traps us and uses us and batters us down! Do you honestly believe you can put an end to all that on your own?