Last week I completed, Close-up, the third prequel to Painted Ladies, featuring Jasmine Frame, my transsexual detective character. There will be another story coming along in the near future and I have high hopes that the sequel to Painted Ladies, Bodies By Design, will find a publisher soon or instead will be self-published as an e-book. I am also planning to put edited versions of the prequels online. Then there will be the further sequels…
But this week my focus is on my other character, September Weekes. I have been completing the edits of volume 2 of Evil Above the Stars: Power of Seven and I have been getting very excited about the publication of both volumes in the new year by Elsewhen Press. They will appear first as e-books then as paperbacks with a launch at Eastercon. So who is September?
As a character she came to me some years ago – a feisty, teenager with issues. Why the silly name? Well, she’s the last child of parents who solved the name choosing problem by using the names of months for their first five children – April, May, June, Julie and Gus (Augustus). What could they do with the sixth? Well they had to continue the theme didn’t they. Anyway I like it – especially when contracted to Ember or Em. Being the last member of a large family proved to be important.
Then the idea of a fantasy novel grew out of a scene that I developed for a short piece for Ludlow Writers’ Group. I think it was for a Hallowe’en time meeting and so involved witches or druids. The story featured a teenage heroine and so September had her opportunity. She changed a bit and grew white hair. At the opening of the novel there is little that is heroic about her – she’s plump, a bit silly, lacks self-esteem, is bullied at school and treated as dim by her teachers. She is on a journey of self-discovery as well as a quest and “task”. I don’t want to give spoilers of what happens in Evil Above The Stars but I think it is a gripping story in original settings with interesting adversaries and intriguing concepts involving celtic myth, alchemy and Ptolomaic cosmology. Oh, yes, and the number 7 has special significance.
I think it is intruguing that while the number 7 features in all our lives (7 days, 7 colours in the rainbow, etc.) the seven pointed star is actually quite a rare motif, certainly less common than four, five, six and eight pointed stars. I like the one shown in the picture because if you trace it out it seems to go on and on, never repeating although, of course, it does. It’s symmetry is also less comfortable than the more familiar star patterns.
Why are both the main characters in my novels feminine? I don’t know really. There is a trend for active, intelligent women in novels these days but I suppose I feel more comfortable writing from a feminine point of view. Of course it is for readers to decide whether I have given my characters credible personalities. Actually there are a lot of differences between Jasmine and September. Jasmine is a mature, transsexual woman while September is a girl approaching adulthood who has no gender identity issues but hasn’t developed her sexuality yet. While there are no doubt similarities in my writing style in both series, they deal with very different subjects and the backgrounds, scenes, plots etc. etc. are wildly different.
I like having two (or more!) threads to my imagination and I find it quite easy to move from Jasmine’s life in Kintbridge to September’s somewhat more extensive universe. Again it is up to the reader to decide if I have been successful but I can only point to one of my heroes, Iain (M.) Banks who also seemed able to hop between very different worlds of imagination. I don’t have Banks’ talent but I hope I can cite him as my inspiration.
I am currently writing the third volume of September’s adventures. It remains to be seen whether there will be more.
You can find out more about the publication of the September books and other Elsewhen Press publications here Elsewhen
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as paperback and e-book from all booksellers including Amazon