An Inside Look at Revision: Indirect Inspiration From Two Dorothys: Sayers and Gilman

Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation is available on Amazon and Smashwords. I posted notes about the process of revision for every chapter.

The Lord of Burleigh, Tennyson
I considered using this image with my
original Aubrey posts. However,
almost all those posts are of
woman exclusively.
Chapter 7

My romantic pair, Aubrey and Charles Stowe, begin to get closer in Chapter 7.

Charles is possibly my favorite hero although Will Elliot of Persuadable takes a close second (to an extent, the hero of the latest book is always my favorite but Charles is a steady winner). Until Charles, my heroes were mostly troubled angsty guys (typical for a writer in her early 20s) including the remarkable (unpublished) Martin Keayne who is basically an ambitious king-maker: think Thomas Cromwell. Of my published works, the ostensible hero of "Golden Hands," the returning hero-king conqueror who must eliminate his rivals, is a good example of my heroes at that time.

And yet, at the same time (in my early 20s), I was utterly beguiled by Inspector Charles Parker of Dorothy Sayers's mysteries. He's intelligent, laid-back, hard-working, humorous but not flippant, self-confident and tolerant.

He has remained a favorite, so much so that I was recently extremely disappointed in Jill Paton Walsh's The Attenbury Emeralds, which details Wimsey and Charles's back-story. Like far too many fans of any hero, Walsh makes the introduction of Wimsey to Charles all about the debonair, clever, all-seeing, all-knowing Wimsey, who takes the lead on the case.

Believe it or not, Sayers was far less enamored of Wimsey and far less likely to portray him as the perfect guy than critics and Sayers's fans seem to believe. In fact, Sayers's novels/short stories make clear that Charles was the stabilizing force in that relationship at the beginning. Wimsey was a little nutty when he got back from WWI and was looking for something to do--other than just being a bored, unhappy dilettante. He got involved in Charles's early cases, but only because Charles accepted his input without fuss, not because Wimsey came in and took over.

*Sigh.* Why do fans insist on back-storying their favorite heroes' perfections? Why can't their heroes grow and change? (Okay, that's a topic for another post.)

April Love by Arthur Hughes*
Moving on: as well as Charles Parker, I came to adore Lieutenant Pruden of Dorothy Gilman's The Clairvoyant Countess.  It is surprisingly difficult to nail down Lieutenant Pruden's first name--if he has one--but his appearance is close to Charles Stowe's. Pruden is a tallish, "compact, well-put-together man with fair hair and tilted, skeptical, thick brows over slate-blue eyes." Charles is slightly shorter, being about 5'10", has brown hair and grey eyes. However, the laid-backness, due diligence, and dependence on empirical evidence are all part of Charles Stowe's personality (Gilman lightly criticizes Pruden for his literalness--the clairvoyant countess is the book's heroine--but I always admired Pruden's reliance on evidence). 

Back to Aubrey: Charles Stowe was in the novella from the beginning. He was also always a policeman, not a member of the upper-class (in a future post, I'll comment on the role of the police in this and other nineteenth century-type milieus).

He was not initially a love interest; the intimacy that is kick-started in Chapter 7 and takes off in Part II of Aubrey did not occur until almost the end of the original novella--when I got tired of the "rake" love interest and realized that Charles attracted me (and Aubrey) more.

In fact, a scene in Part I originally belonged to Malcolm, the nephew of Lord Simon--and is one of the few Malcolm scenes that was not transferred directly to Lord Simon.

*Like The Lord of Burleigh, Tennyson by Edmund Blair Leighton (above), April Love is a Victorian/Pre-Raphaelite painting: Leighton was more Victorian; Hughes was more Pre-Raphaelite. The difference lies in their brush-strokes (and friends) rather than their subject matter.

According to Wikipedia, April Love "depicts a young couple at a moment of emotional crisis. The male figure is barely visible, his head bent over the young woman's left hand. The woman is looking down at fallen blossoms, suggesting the end of spring, and of early and young love." Quite appropriate considering Aubrey's continuing disillusionment (and the difficult choice she'll be faced with at the end of Part I)!

No comments: