Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Beautiful People: Mel

We haven't had one of these in a while! 

Beautiful People is a monthly character meme hosted by Cait and Sky.

I have not participated in a bit, but I have felt a bit bad that three of my four MCs (“What MCs?" you ask. Well, I'll answer that in a minute) have had BP posts and the fourth has not. She is exceedingly miffed. And when I saw these questions, I thought, instantly, “they're perfect for Mel!" 

So here we are.

The City and the Trees is a YA high fantasy novel currently midway through its third draft. Here, have a slightly rubbish synopsis that I wrote ages ago and have never bothered to improve (wow Emily you're too kind. I know, guys, I know):

Corrie is our MC and our narrator, and she has three bezzie mates (I used to use that phrase ironically but now can't stop) called Freddie, Mel and Jem. Freddie and Jem have had their own posts, but Mel has not.

Mel gives an offended sniff.

Yeah, all right, I know.

Mel Oswald is sixteen when Corrie meets her. She has lived in Teyvanidan all her life. She left school at fourteen and is now a waitress in a potshop* in the city harbour.
*Ivarian tea and ale houses

This post is heavily inspired by Ashley's Odd Tale. If you haven't already read it you should because it is freaking hilarious. It is in present tense with Ashley herself in the story, as an omniscient narrator. That's what I'm doing here. However, please bear in mind the following:

I've never done this before soooo let's just roll with it!

1. What first inspired this character? Is there a person/actor you based them off?
I love this question! We spend a lot of time talking about what inspired our books, but not so much our characters.

Back in the olden days of summer 2013 when I was conceiving TCATT, I had some characters that came to me straight away. I knew that Corrie was going to become best friends with a city girl, and fall in love with a city boy.

“What was that? I was going to what?" says Corrie.

“Nothing, dear," I say, “leave me to talk to the followers on my own for now."

Freddie laughs because he knows what's going on. Jem looks confused and a little embarrassed.

So anyway, Mel started out as a rather horribly stereotyped City Wench, like the type with an apron and round cheeks.

“How offensive!" Mel breaks in.

“Don't worry," I placate her, “you didn't stay like that for long. Though, I have to admit, I did originally think you were called Molly. Then I realised that Corrie & Molly sounded like a cupcake company so I changed it to Mel."

“A what company?"

“Never mind," I say.

“You haven't actually answered the question," Corrie points out.

She's such a know-it-all.

So, Mel was probably mostly inspired by Anne of Green Gables, at least, that's who I think of when I think of her. Although, when I think about it, I didn't reread Anne until summer 2014, a year after creating Mel, so maybe I'm only imposing that inspiration post-emptively. I'm not sure.

“Who's Anne of Green Gables?" Mel asks.

I think it would take too long to explain.

2. Describe their daily routine.
“I have to get up so early," Mel says, “and then it's off to the potshop to earn an honest wage ... Basically I serve tea all day, and talk to people. I'm not exactly living the dream, but it's an interesting job. Then I normally find one of this lot to hang about with for a bit, and, when I can't put it off any longer, I return to the madhouse."

(She doesn't get on the best with her parents.)

3. If they joined your local high school, what clique would they fit into?
No cliques!

This is basically her.

Mel's eyes widen. “The painting ... the scarily realistic painting is moving! Freddie, come and look at this! What kind of magic even is that?!"

I sigh.

4. Write a list of things they merely tolerate. Ex: certain people, foods, circumstances in their lives…
“Nasty people who come into the potshop and treat me like dirt because I'm a waitress," Mel says. “The monarchy. Poverty. The amount of beggars in Teyvanidan. Sexism. Cabbage, which I really cannot stand. My father's attitude towards my friends. These are all things I tolerate, although--" her eyes flash -- “I shouldn't have to."

5. How do they react in awkward silences?
“Awkward silence?!" Mel exclaims. “What awkward silence? Where? LET ME FILL IT!"

“It's true," says Jem wearily. “She's insufferable."

“You love me really," Mel trills.

So that's your answer: she never stops talking. Here, have a snippet from the scene where she's introduced.
I stare into my mug, wondering if I should speak, but the silence seems to grow less uncomfortable; she is worlds away, one hand propped under her chin. At last she says, quietly: “That cloud looks like a cat with a helmet on.”
I start, unable to stop my incredulous expression, and she groans. “By Ilma – I really am sorry – no connection from brain to mouth, today …”
I stare at her for a second, then look up at the sky, and surprise myself by laughing. “You’re right!”
She laughs, too, and we are both shaking with laughter, one part at the cloud but mostly at this bizarre conversation.
“Look,” she says, when we regain control, “I have definitely ruined your quiet cup of tea. I’m very sorry. I’m not always this odd … Well.” She tilts her head. “That’s not true, I am …”
6. Can they swim? If so, how did they learn?
“Afraid not," Mel says. “I love the sea, and I've lived beside it all my life, but no one wants to swim in the harbour in Teyvanidan."

“I do!" Freddie says.

“Go ahead," I tell him, “if you want a wasting sickness."

7. What is one major event that helped shape who they are?
She had these friends from school, not because she liked them -- just through social necessity -- but eventually she realised she needed to break with them. They were doing some nasty and/or illegal things. She had a rough few months where she didn't really have any friends, but things are good now.

8. What things do they value most in life?
“Friends, family," says Mel, counting on her fingers, “political freedom, social justice, equality ... art. The sea. Happiness."

9. Do they believe in giving other people second chances? Do they have any trust issues?
Yes to chances and no to trust issues. Although, despite her very friendly and happy exterior, she might take longer to trust than you imagine. Like I said, some horrible friends (and a horrible boyfriend), and parents who will not win any awards ... She has learnt how to read people.

10. Your character is having a rough day…what things do they do to make them happy again? Is there anyone they talk/interact with to get in a better mood?
“I never have rough days," says Mel.

“Liar," I say.

She smiles. “All right. Talking to Corrie or Freddie or Jem will always improve things ... And I guess I like just walking around Teyvanidan, being in the city, it reminds me that I'm only one person, you know? Other people have real problems."

Don't let little stupid things break your happiness.:

This is Corrie's description:
That is her, exactly: so in every sentence, because she truly feels things, heartbroken at the tiny plight of another, overjoyed by the simple beauty of a trader’s coloured cloths or an evening sky; affectionate, enthusiastic, sometimes capricious, and yet steady, grounded, always with the right thing to say, with a remarkable selfless streak; not from bravery, or exactly compassion, though she has both in rafts, but because of a wide world perspective that never wallows in some distorted self-pitying hollow of the mind, but always looks outward, always to the horizon, laughing off her needs because she sees the good in everything and she will not let the bad prey on her. So it is that she can feel sorry for me, whom some would despise; she overflows with too much energy for self-pity, physical energy, yes, but more than that a sort of luminous joy in the world, a lens before her eyes to lift the mundane from dustiness and charm every passing heart.

I so enjoyed that. I really love Mel Oswald a lot. How did you enjoy the omniscient narrator / dialogue thing? Should I do it again? Ooh, and have you linked up with Beautiful People? Drop me a link!


  1. I liked how Mel answered the questions! THAT WAS REALLY COOL. And she sounds like a decidedly awesome person. ;D And I'm glad you liked question #1 a toooo. *beams happily*
    Thanks for joining in!!

    1. I'm glad! She is, decidedly. Thanks for hosting! :D

  2. You got the idea from me? I feel quite proper. Sort of. XD Thanks for the nice shoutout.

    Mel sounds so awesome! She feels like a real person I can meet. And I love that excerpt with her random cloud epiphany. That was hilarious!

    I also like how the whole lot of them interacted with you in the post. They sound like so much fun! I can't wait to read their book!

    1. I did and you should and you're welcome :D

      She is! And you will! She is always picking shapes out of the clouds, it's a habit <3

      They are! I can't wait, either!

  3. That was cool how Mel answered the questions! She seems like a super cool character. (And that scene where she's introduced is pretty awesome, too :) )

    1. And sorry, I totally forgot to mention that I tagged you for the Totally Should've Tag (because I'm forgetful like that) and I hope you haven't already done it!

    2. She is, in fact, super cool! And I'm glad you liked it :)

      Thanks! I haven't already done it :)

  4. Hi, Emily! I saw your comment on my BP post for Mortimer but it was gone before I could reply, so I'll answer your questions here.

    I have heard of the Bartimaeus books. I actually read them while I was revising some of Mortimer's sections and they helped me infuse more Djinn-related stuff into his chapters.

    Albion is a place name (a school in this case) and Merlin is a character name (for two separate people); yes, there's a lot of Arthurian stuff going through the books, but they are set in modern day.

    The City and the Trees sounds intriguing and Mel seems like the kind of character every reader will fall in love with.

    1. Hi! I'm so sorry about that, when I published it it appeared twice so I did what I thought was deleting one, but I think and I deleted both and then it wouldn't load and then--

      Yeah, I'm not that tech savvy!

      But I'm glad you did see it :)

      I've only read the first one, which I quite liked; I found the magic really interesting. I'm always up for learning about new kinds of magic from different books.

      That's cool. I don't actually know that much about Arthur etc, though I do have a copy of The Once and Future King which I intend to read soon and which may inform me better.

      I'm glad you're intrigued :) I hope so. She's not your typical angsty YA heroine which is probably why I love her. Sometimes you need a more straightforwardly lovable character.

  5. Awww, Mel sounds like a fun character. And I can definitely relate (since my two jobs are 1. Bookstore/Winebar/Coffee Shop/Cafe, and 2. Brewery). *Fist pump* for waitresses, potgirls, baristas, and food/customer service employees everywhere.

    I loved how you used this partly as an interview, but "let" them all interact. Mel's intro is great, and it does a splendid job of telling the reader what type of character she is, and making us like her right off.
    Anne of Green Gables - love those books. Isn't it funny how you'll discover something after the fact, and go, "WOW, that's my character in a nutshell!" That's basically the story of me on Pinterest. Or listening to music. Ahhh, the shared human experience, lol.

    Anyhow, this sounds like a great story, with a really cool world.

    <3 RH @ Wordsmithing and Worldbuilding/

    1. She is. I fist pump with you!

      I do love the scene where we meet her, and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      Same! I'm yet to finish the series but I love them a lot. It is funny, to see your thoughts crystallised by somebody else. Makes me think of this quotation from Alan Bennett, which I love: “The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”

      Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for visiting and thank you for the follow :D

  6. Ooh, Mel sounds like a great character! I'd like to meet her someday in a fictional world.

    1. She is! Maybe one day you will ... I wish!

  7. Haha! Great idea! I loved the bit about the cupcake company. You gave me a good laugh while I was waiting for the bus:P

    1. I'm glad! Maybe one day I'll set up a cupcake company called Corrie & Molly's ;)

  8. Awwww she's so sweet! And I love this way of doing Beautiful People.

    1. I know! <333 Thanks for stopping by :)

  9. Haha I like Mel and potshop that's so quirky. XD I'd love to go to one of those! Tea! Yasssssss! Mel sounds really cool!

    1. I too would love to go to a potshop! Mel is very very cool, I love her, as you can tell!


Thanks for commenting! :)