I have been a dreamer for as long as I can remember. Trees in the backyard came to life with magical fruits and unicorns lived in mom and dad’s azaleas. Aside from drafting grant and project proposals for my husband’s growing art production company, I stopped writing for awhile and focused more on visual creativity. BUT… I am a storyteller; like my grandmother, like my dad…it’s just in my bones. Each illustration and painting I have done has a back story that remains largely untold. It occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, those stories are worth telling. I sat, one warm, almost-summer morning in far-south London’s Richmond Park in a little noon called the Poet’s Corner and wrote a few short blurbs about the various balloons my husband and I had created over the past few years. They were Templar Knights, pirates, and a cranky Scotsman. They were freedom fighters against slavery. Some were posh and flashy aristocrats. But I noticed that each of their stories wove into the next one. As I walked along the path toward the pond in the distance, followed closely by a noisy goose after my dried strawberry snacks, I decided that these characters deserved something much grander than a simple character description and rough sketch in a tattered notebook from the Cass Art clearance bin. They deserved something epic. That is the day that I decided I was an author.
Sometimes works can stand alone. Their emotional and creative weight is enough to open and close a brief interlude into a world other than our own. Some stories seem to great to condense into one novel. Imagine if JK Rowling would have stopped at The Sorcerer’s Stone. Alright, Voldemort left that dude’s head and ran off… as my two-year-old son says, “ALL Done!” I might not be here on the cusp of finishing my first Kickstarter campaign to legitimately publish a for-real novel. Sometimes, the FIN comes much later.
With Henry and Jack, their journey is long and chocked full of self-discovery, danger, redemption and love. Two hundred and five pages is not enough. The second novel in the Flying Furniture Adventures installment, The Search for the Sacred Heart has been in planning since before the conclusion of The Return of the Great Flyer. There were bits, particularly of the explanatory kind, that I knew would take more time to develop. I am not certain of the penultimate conclusion. I know that the lives of my heroes, my flyers and my villains will evolve with each novel, seemingly taking on lives of their own. I want them to move throughout the thousands of pages of the series naturally; live and die as if it were meant to be. I wonder if writers of these successful series of novels knew the ending at the beginning and just worked on the parts in between. We start here at A and end there at Z; let’s just figure out which roads to take to get there. OR…do they let the events unfold, allowing their imagination and emotions carry their pen, laptop, typewriter keys to an unknown conclusion?
There is always the fear of being cliche or sugar-coating a story. Sure, Snape could have lived and Dumbledore could have risen from the dead. Everyone is happy. No dead Weasleys or Hedwig. Voldemort is gone. Predictable? Yes. And slightly emotionless. My goal is to create characters that are rich, with depth and substance. I want readers to love them, to hate them, to cheer for them. I want a robust storyline with twists and turns. I want readers to feel something and want to come back for more. I guess that is the goal of each writer. The question I still need to answer is how to move to each piece of my puzzle; each novel in the series, creating a seamless flow from A to Z. The Return of the Great Flyer ends in a great place (NO SPOILERS) but there are loose ends that may remain loose until the last possible second before – FIN.
I am happy to say that I am 86% funded in my current Kickstarter Campaign for The Return of the Great Flyer with 12 days left to go. The goal is SO close. Help Henry and Jack get published and pledge and share our Kickstarter with friends and family. Only $25 gets you a limited-edition, Kickstarter-only paperback copy of The Adventures of the Flying Furniture: The Return of the Great Flyer. Check is out at FLYING FURNITURE Kickstarter .
One character I have neglected to mention in most descriptions and character development essays is Peter. Peter is a ten year old orphan who relocated from France when he was only four years old. He has been raised by his older sister Molly who is a laborer in one of Roman Hatfield’s textile mills near Battersea. Peter and Molly live a modest lifestyle but in the first novel, much about Peter remains a mystery. He is precocious, perceptive and extremely sarcastic. He has a knack for solving puzzles and helps Henry quite a bit when it comes to solving mysteries on their quest for the Golden Pin.
Henry and Peter have a special relationship. Henry is an only child with the exception of his wretched stepbrother, August Turlington. Their dynamic is much like a big brother-little brother relationship. They bicker a bit but rely on each other for support. Peter does not attend school but is very well-read and possesses a maturity level beyond that of an average ten year old. He is a lover of adventure and, on the surface, appears quite fearless. He rarely lets his guard down but within his interactions with Henry, we see moments of honesty and vulnerability. Peter also helps to quell Henry’s insecurities and places him in the role of “responsible adult.” Responsibility is something Henry must grapple with as The Great Flyer. He has, in the absence of his father, created a new family with Peter, Finn, Dorian, Lucy and the other members of the Order. Tangent aside- that is a whole separate character profile.
Peter is the youngest of the characters, therefore, has the most room for growth. The Great Flyer treats Peter very superficially but as the series progresses, so will our understanding of who he is and what role he has to play in The Order of Flyer’s battle against Roman Hatfield and other villains who have yet to surface. His and Henry’s meeting seems random but was it? Why is it that Peter can see Jack when others cannot? Who is Peter and what happened to his family? Is he just a tagalong kid or is he part of some larger plan? There are a host of questions.
It pains me to have to hold back but nobody likes spoilers. The Search for the Sacred Heart, the second novel in the Flying Furniture Adventures series, is in preliminary stages of development and within its chapters, we will see much more of Peter and perhaps a few of those questions above will be answered.
I truly look forward to seeing how everything plays out. I strive to create characters that are robust and honest. I want readers to feel real emotions toward them; love, disgust, sympathy, etc… Are these characters thrown together by chance or is everyone of them connected somehow; cogs in a much larger machine?
Want a chance to find out? Become a backer for my Kickstarter campaign to publish The Adventures of the Flying Furniture: The Return of the Great Flyer. For only a $25 pledge, you can get your hands on a limited edition, Kickstarter only copy of the novel with bonus content like maps, clues, (Henry’s Father) Captain Jack Worthen’s journal entries and more! Help support the Flying Furniture and share our Kickstarter with friends. Follow the link below to view the campaign in full.
I am a little stuck on Myra, so we will talk a bit more about her today. She is extremely complex and has been one of the most satisfying characters to develop. Her appearance indicates nothing more than weakness but that also makes her stealthy. She can sneak up on you. She is a hustler like Forest Whittaker in the Color of Money, completely unassuming. She loves a man with every ounce of her soul who does not and most likely, will not love her back. The saddest aspect of Myra is that she hangs on with this thin little string of hope to any chance that Henry might see her as something more than a nuisance. I keep her close to me as she is one of the most emotional characters to write.
Anyhow, Myra loves oranges. Much like Watteau’s dogs, Oranges are peppered throughout the novels, popping up here and there. Why does Myra like oranges? Oranges are exotic. Their sweet smell is reminiscent of far away places that are warm and sunny. Myra longs to break free. She is a prisoner of her own fear, her loyalty to her father, Roman Hatfield, and as a child, her illnesses. She dreams of traveling to white beaches kissed by blue waters, of starting over in a place where nobody knows her. She could reinvent herself. Oranges are Myra’s dreams. She is pivotal in each story line, much like a swing vote in an election. BUT, ultimately Myra loves oranges because Henry does.
Myra’s role shifts late in the first novel:
“Thank you, Myra,” Lucy said sweetly, “for keeping Henry company and for being such a true and loyal friend.” Myra blushed. “You are most welcome, Miss Martin,” she replied. “Oh please,” Lucy interrupted, “no formalities necessary here. Call me Lucy. I sincerely hope that one day soon, that I may call you a friend as well.” Myra’s cheeks turned an even deeper shade of red. She had never boasted many friends. In fact, she had never had a single one outside of Henry, who was always a bit fickle until now. Myra hoped that she might find joy in her newfound friendship and would find someone with whom to share her heart, just like Lucy and Henry. She loved Henry with all her soul but she knew that she must let him go and forge a new path. She wanted so desperately to believe what Henry had told her, that she was stronger than she knew…
The one concern with Myra’s newfound role as spy is whether or not Henry is treating her as if she were expendable. Is he more apt to put her in situations that could cause her harm than he is with Lucy? Ultimately their fates are my choice but most times it is as if the characters make their own decisions, I merely tell their stories…
Each character in The Return of the Great Flyer is an amalgam of attributes from people I know or have met at some point in my existence. There are bits of myself swirled in there as well. I was thinking recently about what character of mine I identify with the strongest. I thought about it for a few hours and went back to writing the last chapter of the book. It took me a bit to figure it out; Henry is who I need to be but is mostly a patchwork of people I have loved very deeply. Lucy is who I want to be. Kind, understanding, nurturing and talented. People can’t help but like her. Her warm light and gentle nature is infecting. She is the best of people with an old soul and enormous open heart. I am definitely not Roman Hatfield; not too many sociopathic tendencies and I have no desire to overthrow anything or anyone. I would, however, like to hypnotize a few people and trick them into doing all my housework. I finally, after hours of analyzing, realized which character I identify with the most. It was surprising and may be difficult to articulate to those who haven’t read the book and don’t know me very well. Of all the characters… I am Myra.
Myra Hatfield just wants to belong somewhere. She has nothing in common with the debutantes in her high society social circle. Money is their only commonality. She is a pariah because she isn’t strikingly beautiful and has different interests than those she is forced to associate with. Myra is clever, funny and sweet. She is also painfully awkward. She spends most of her life in love with Henry who sees her as a nuisance. She is the character who will surprise readers the most. Myra has an untapped reservoir of strength and courage. Her heart is true and she longs to do what is right and good. The unfortunate dilemma Myra faces, is a shaky and questionable loyalty to her father. She knows what he is planning is terribly wrong. She loves her father as he is her only remaining relative. He has cared for her to the best of his abilities and provided her with a quality education and a plethra of cultural experiences. Who does she choose? Henry or her father, Roman? One lesson to learn here is to NEVER count out Myra Hatfield!
I may not have the same issues Myra faces but I think we are kindred spirits in the way that I know what it is to feel differently than everyone else. I occasionally have different interests in everything from films to music to my intense need to get one of those giant domestic cats. I have odd views on religion and politics and way too often, give people the benefit of the doubt. There are many, many Myra’s out there, searching for their tribe. Best of luck to them all. I am living proof that occasionally, weird pays off…
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Here is another excerpt from the book where Lucy Martin meets the Union Jack for the first time. She is surprised but quickly warms to the idea of magical flying furniture. After all, who wouldn’t?
“Lucy! Give me your hand!” Henry shouted, grabbing her as they both jumped onto Jack’s seat.
Lucy stared wide-eyed at Henry. “What!? What in the devil is this going to do?” she pointed down toward the chair, puzzled. Darnell was holding his jaw, struggling to get onto his feet. Henry knew they did not have long. He straightened his hat and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Jack! Let’s fly!” he shouted. The great chair’s balloon exploded into the alleyway and lifted the pair upward above the adjacent buildings. Darnell stumbled backwards and cursed the pair as they flew out of his reach and over the rooftops of the high street, toward the river. Lucy clung tightly to Henry as Jack struggled a bit to lift his two passengers and the bulky load of fabric for the Scotsman.
Noticeably frightened, Lucy turned to Henry, still holding tightly to his waist. “What’s happening?” she cried. “We’re flying,” Henry replied with a chuckle. Lucy blinked and shook her blonde head. “I know that but what is the meaning of all this?” she asked shakily as Jack hit a small pocket of wind over the Thames.
Henry smiled and patted Jack on the back. “Lucy, meet Jack. Jack, meet Lucy,” he said nearly out of breath. He paused for moment, then placed his hand on Lucy’s shoulder. He felt the tension in her subside. “I was in as much disbelief the first time Jack and I met. All I have to say is that there is magic in this world, Lucy. This is magic. Jack found me and that changed everything,” he said holding her tightly. He was pleased beyond measure to share this with her. He did not like keeping secrets from those he cared for. She shivered a bit, so he opened the front of his overcoat and wrapped it around her narrow shoulders. She smiled up at him, the skirt of her blue striped dress waving in the wind as they flew.
Lucy closed her eyes for a moment and drew a deep breath. She opened them again and looked out over the horizon. She could see all of London and it was marvelous. She looked again at Henry who gave her a sweet smile. “I always knew there was magic. I just never thought I would experience it. Thank you, Henry, for rescuing me. I knew you were special from the first moment we met,” she said softly then buried her head in Henry’s chest.
Follow us here on WordPress for more on Lucy’s character development and for excerpts from the first novel, The Adventures of the Flying Furniture: The Return of the Great Flyer. Don’t forget, our Kickstarter Campaign runs through October 24th. Get GREAT rewards for your pledges like signed first edition copies of the novel, eBooks, your own Great Flyer golden pin, and original illustrations of scenes from the novel.
My husband, Ryan, created the Flying Furniture images several years ago. They began as sketches which he refined as digital art pieces. Everywhere we took them, people were intrigued. With each new sketch, I grew more and more eager to give them a story. The first of them was The Union Jack, a quirky but wise Queen Anne chair with a worn gilded finish and a large balloon of crimson and gold. He proudly flies his namesake, the Union Jack flag, as his banner. He is a proud sort of fellow but loyal and steadfast. Jack enters Henry’s life at a pivotal moment.
Henry Worthen has always been without an identity. His father was a Captain in the Royal Navy but always somewhat of a joke amongst those in London’s high society and the ranks of the British military. Henry’s mother married a wealthy aristocrat and inserted herself into elite society, something she had coveted since being married to Henry’s father. Henry has no desire to be a part of his mother and stepfather’s world. He cares nothing for debutantes, fancy dress or titles. He is a dreamer and inventor, much like his father. He knows, in the back of his mind, that he might possibly be meant to do something extraordinary but a childhood accident left him with a slight physical handicap. His rather progressive views on politics and social welfare make him even more of an outcast.
Enter Jack… when a mysterious crate arrives at Henry’s dusty old clock loft, he is curious and completely caught off-guard by its contents. Jack brings with him such magic and a connection that Henry has been desperately seeking for as long as he could remember. Jack leads him on a quest for lost artifacts and introduces Henry to a secret world, hidden just out of sight of the normal folks that carry on with their day-to-day affairs.
In creating Henry Worthen, I did not want a traditional hero or protagonist. He is not without flaws. He is riddled with self-doubt, a weakness Jack must help him overcome. He has allowed a physical handicap to make him feel unworthy of positive attention, of being proud, and of love, especially Lucy Martin’s. Henry is reminiscent of Adam Ewing in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas; the reluctant hero. He is not particularly strong, more cute,fellow-next-door looking than smolderingly handsome and is a bit of a nerd. In subsequent novels, readers can expect to see a darker side of Henry as certain secrets about his past are revealed. I gave him life, constructing his character from bits and pieces of people I have known but also from bits and pieces of myself and my husband. He is very dear to me and felt as warm and alive as the person sitting next to me on the tube as I wrote. He and Jack had to compliment one another but not always agree. Jack pushes Henry’s boundaries as far as what is safe and comfortable. He forces him to grow into a man with honor and integrity who is willing to fight for what is good and just instead of a wandering spirit, searching for some meaning behind his existence.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a storyteller. Much like my late grandmother, I enjoy a good story; tales of mystery and intrigue. I am also bad about tangents! My husband stays irritated at me about my ability to get from point A to point B in a conversation without taking a side trip to a whole other alphabet. I did not want straightforward relationships between the novel’s characters. I like the tangents, the web where everyone is connected in some way to the other, whether directly or round the block three times and back again. I am beyond excited to finally share them all with the world. Please consider pledging to the novel’s Kickstarter Campaign through October 24th and follow Flying Furniture Adventures for more character profiles and excerpts from the first and second novels.