I think anyone who has read Thrice Burned by now knows that even our favourite detective gets jealous.
The truth is that despite her attempts to embrace her introverted nature, Portia manages to surround herself with people worthy of being jealous of.
Annie Coleson for example is a petite gorgeous fashionable blonde who has capture the attention of Brian … Portia’s best friend. Not only that but Annie seems to have this innate quality of making everyone who meets her LOVE her. Who wouldn’t be jealous of such a bundle of happy?
And then there’s Gavin Whitaker, a brilliant medical examiner who has worked his entire life to raise himself up from his poor orphan beginnings with none of the help that Portia has benefited from in her life. Neither the loving mother nor the rich grandmother were in his corner. No, Whitaker is a self-made man who on several occasions will show-up the young detective with his superior skills around death.
I just wrote a scene where Portiais sitting on the roof deducing that Brian Dawes has just come from dinner and a movie with his girlfriend Annie Coleson, and I need some details.
Firstly, yes, cinemas existed in 1931 in London.
At first I thought the Gate Theatre (originally a studio near Covent Garden, opened I. 1925) would suffice, but it was for plays, not movies. I’ll hold onto that one for some later use.
I think the Nottinghill Coronet would be a reasonable choice.. located at Pembridge Road and Holland Park ave in Notting Hill Gate in London, it’s close enough to Baker street to make it the ‘local’ theatre.
In 1916, films were shown at the theatre for the first time, as part of variety programmes mixing live and filmed performance.
In 1923, it became a cinema full time, and capacity was reduced from 1,143 to 1,010 seats, but it retained, as it still does, its original theatre interior, consisting of stalls and two upper tiers (a dress circle and a gallery). However, the boxes at each side of the auditorium, next to the stage, were removed in 1931. The stage has been blocked off, and the cinema screen is placed within the proscenium arch. The projection equipment is housed in the former dress circle bar.
In 1931, the cinema became part of Gaumont British Cinemas, and it was at this time that the theatre boxes were removed.
That leaves the dinner, somewhere Brian could have oysters with a special aoli Portia would recognize. This area I think has been known as Nottinghill for some time, and seems to have a rich restaurant district. I think this spot works.
Leigh Brownlee went into newspapers and he is picked out as one of the senior figures representing the Daily Mirror at the funeral of the newspaper’s then editor, Alexander Kenealy in 1915. Brownlee was himself editor of the Daily Mirror from 1931 to 1934, though this was a difficult period for the newspaper, which had fallen significantly from its achievement of the first one million circulation in 1918 because of price cutting by rival newspapers. The Mirror was sold by Lord Northcliffe in the mid-1930s and Brownlee appears to have left then: the newspaper relaunched as an American-style tabloid after he left. He went into partnership in a news agency, but the partnership was dissolved in 1936.
Finally finished transcribing Book5/ Box 850 which means I can start in on Book 6. Actually, I started writing Book 6 before I was finished transcribing, but now I can do it without guilt!
Anyway, right off the bat, I need a clearer picture of the status of prostitutes in Britain in 1931. I think I want to incorporate them into the Baker Street Irregulars. I think they could be a nice evolution. Sherlock Holmes was able to use the street kids of England to get him information he didn’t have access to. I don’t think he ever had prostitutes as his sources of information, but I feel Portia Adams could … but I need to figure out if her upbringing and social status might make her prejudiced towards the profession.
Since Whitechapel is so well-known for housing brothels at this time, it may be a likely spot to place this book’s main events.
As part of that research I came across “Life and Labour of the people in London” by Charles Booth. I would like very much to get a ahold of the whole series, does anyone know if it has been PDFed?
I find it useful just before I fall asleep to conjure up scenes that I have just written (at this moment, for Book 5). When I do that, it helps to have a mental picture of my characters, so I thought I’d share who I use:
For Portia, I am currently imagining someone like Emma Stone with darker hair.
She seems to be highly intelligent, which comes across in her eyes and the way she speaks and I don’t know how to explain it, but while she is pretty, she doesn’t seem over-the-top Photoshopped… if you know what I mean.
Anyway, she is who I imagine when I think about Portia.
For Constable Brian Dawes, I think of a young Michael Vartan, probably even before his Alias days.
He has the right combination of trusted boy-next-door looks and intelligence, while holding so much emotion in his eyes that he can compensate for Portia’s social ineptitude.
His girlfriend is even harder, because I DO want Annie Coleson to be ridiculously blonde and gorgeous. You might think that gives me even more to select from but it seems harder to me. I’m somewhere between
Rosamund Pike (I mean the girl has played both Helen of Troy and Jane Bennett on the big screen, she’s obviously the perfect woman) and Booth’s girlfriend from Season 6 of Bones, an actress by the name of Katheryn Winnick.
Katheryn is another one of those actresses who can pull off super-smart, but she’s more approachable than Rosamund, which Annie would have to be, so somewhere between these two women is where I imagine Annie.
I don’t know how bright Adam Baldwin is in real life, but he seems to play characters with more testosterone than neurons (no offense, Sir! they are also some of my favorite characters).
He is who I have in my head when I write Sergeant Michaels though with about 20lbs more fat on his body – specifically his portrayal of Jayne in the Firefly series.
My last two characters I need to imagine (specifically for the Reception scene at the beginning of Book 5 which I struggled with) are Dr. Beanstine and Dr. Benjamin Charles.
Dr. Beanstine is super-easy – I always imagined Joshua Malina from his days on The West Wing – he was crazy smart, good-looking in that dorky way, and he somehow managed to steal scenes from actors with twice his experience.
Put Malina in a sweater-vest and I swear, he’s totally Beans.
Probably Beanstine is even more socially awkward than Will Bailey in the West Wing, but its the right direction for sure. You always underestimate Will and then you see him run 10 miles, flex his muscles and date the gorgeous blonde National Security Advisor. He’s kind of awesome, and you don’t even know it.
Dr. Benjamin Charles is an interesting conundrum because he’s darkly dangerous and appealing to Portia, so he can’t be too good looking, nor can he be anything like his foil, Constable Dawes. I initially had in my head Spike from Buffy, but he was too extreme.
Marsters exhibits the correct mix of dark evil and sympathetic persona that I see in Dr. Charles. Problem is he’s a little TOO on the nose… its almost like it would be hard for Marsters NOT to seem evil – with those glass-cutting cheekbones and vicious wit..
So that leads me to someone a little less obviously evil, someone more like Alex Krycek from the X-files – as played by Nicholas Lea.
When you in your mind place Nicholas Lea next to Michael Vartan, it is interesting how much they have in common and how much it is clear to me that Vartan plays the good guy and Lea plays the bad guy. Maybe I haven’t seen enough footage of them playing the opposite, but when you put Portia between those two guys, I can see her being attracted to both for different reasons.
Characters I don’t have clear pictures of in my head: Sherlock Holmes (age 75), Irene Adler (age 74), Mrs. Dawes, Elaine Barclay and Ruby.
That seemed to take forever, but I think it was because I was adding so much stuff on the way. Its the longest story so far, but I think it holds interest all the way through – will have to see what the first readers of it have to say on that and everything else.
I still feel like I need to speak more to the beginnings of a relationship between Benjamin Charles and Portia, but I am looking for reasonable places to insert that character development.
NOTE: Rethinking Benjamin Charles’ name.. seems too plain to me.
I also need to do some more research into guns and fashion in the 1930s (which, now that I think about it, is a much better title for this blog post, so I’m changing it!).
I’m thinking the Luger P08 Pistol might be reasonable for Portia to start carrying (in book 5, already started) but it might be too big or have too much recall, I need to know more about it. Certainly, it seems readily available at the time, and was still a popular sidearm into the second world war.
Ideally, I would want a pistol that I could link some kind of history to (though not as having belonged to her grandfather’s (Webley’s No.2 .320 calibre bore) but one I can link backwards at some point. I’d like it to be as easy to use as possible, with bullets readily available in London, but knowing so little about guns, I’m going to have to depend on the internet, and your help dear readers to sort it all out.
Time to start writing that query letter methinks: this site called AgentQuery had some interesting suggestions:
Paragraph One—The Hook: A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and wind them in. The best way to understand how to write a hook is to read the loglines of the titles sold by agents in our free searchable AQ database.
Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where you get to distill your entire 300 page novel into one paragraph. Lucky you. We’d like to offer advice on how to do this, but really, it just takes practice, hard work and lots of patience. Then, like we said before, get your friends to read it and if their heads hurt afterwards, go back to the drawing board. We don’t envy you. We really don’t. Summing up your entire book in an intriguing single paragraph is worse than a root canal.
Paragraph Three—Writer’s bio: This should be the easiest part of your query. After all, it’s about you, the writer. Okay, so it’s a bit daunting, especially if you’ve never been published, never won any awards, hold no degrees from MFA writing schools, and possess no credentials to write your book. No problem. The less you have to say, the more space you have for your mini-synopsis. Always a plus.
Your Closing: Congratulations! You’ve finished your query letter. As a formal closing, be sure to do two things. First, thank the agent for her time and consideration. Second, if it’s nonfiction, tell them that you’ve included an outline, table of contents, and sample chapters for their review. If it’s fiction, alert the agent that the full manuscript is available upon request. And in case you still don’t believe us, we want to reiterate: don’t query agents until you’ve finished your full fiction manuscript. Agents will want to read the whole novel before they offer representation to you and your book.
Sigh, Book 4, and I have to tie together clearing Annie’s good name, solving the whole arson thing and dealing with a brand spankin’ new Arch Nemesis. I may have bitten off more than I can chew.
Why did I do this again? Oh yes, character development. Everyone who read books 1-3 tells me they want to know more about Portia, and that is why this book is so bloody complicated.
Ok, so the whole Pigeon thing.. how about if two chefs at the Palace were feuding and one accused the other of using pigeons in the chicken pot pie instead of, well, chicken? Ok, Annie reports this, the accused Chef is summarily dismissed, Annie’s story is retracted because the feud is discovered, and now this disgraced Chef is struggling in the market. Oh, but the crown prince misses his chicken pot pie (which was chicken after all that) so the kitchen staff try and fail to make it to the original Chef’s standard. They are forced to head down to the market and purchase a contract with the original Chef to create his masterpiece once a week for the Prince.
What if the bitter cuisinier decided to really stick it to his former employer and ACTUALLY serve pigeon in his much sought after pot pies? That would work, but wouldn’t he be arrested or at least run out of town for doing that to the Royals? Yeah, that’s where this goes off the rails. Who hires a vindictive Chef who’s been outed for switching pigeons for chickens? Um yes. Problem. Unless the next person who hires him values his culinary skills and has no love for the British Royals…. hmmm..