Right… I’ve spent most of December not working on this so i think it’s time to get back on schedule. There’s a lot to catch up on and it’s high time that the story moved forwards. I’ve spent far too long dwelling on Charlie’s childhood, far longer than i originally intended. As fun as it has been to write, Charlie now has to grow up. But first there’s the small matter of getting to that point and making sure he’s in the right position for the plot to progress…
After Charlie and Violet meet each other outside the church they get sent away by a vicar and Charlie and Violet agree to meet again the next day. All fair and good you might think but i was left at this point with a bit of a quandary as to how to further develop this relationship within the context of the book. I want it to grow gradually in a believable way and not have them just snogging each other senseless after a few days. From where they are now they aren’t going to actually kiss for a long time. Even holding hands is out of the question for the time being. Their relationship has to be very slow… It’s got to start of with very low key things that gradually lead to the heavier stuff like kissing.
To this end i thought that Charlie could start off by giving Violet a gift of some sort, just to show that he likes her. Just something almost neutral but still a little romantic. Unfortunately this is 1925 and it’s not like Charlie can just go on the internet and use his dad’s credit card to buy her some really expensive jewelry… Nor can he really afford anything elaborate. I initially thought of flowers but as nice and simple as they would be it doesn’t really make for an interesting story. The same is true with a box of chocolates. Even though they’re kind of romantic I thought for a moment about how it might be humourous if he gave her a leg of lamb or something but then i reckoned that would ruin the flavour of the story. It wouldn’t really work. In the end i went back to the idea of jewels and decided that rather than buy some jewels Charlie would just resort to theft.
However… Charlie is not a master criminal and i can’t just have seven year old boys going around stealing expensive jewelery and getting away with it. He has to be caught sooner or later and face some sort of consequence. This is where the next bit of the story falls into place. I decided that i could bring this matter round to fit in with the main plot, thus making Charlie’s capture for theft one of the most important events in the entire book as it acts as one of the catalysts The way it works is like this: Later on in the book Charlie starts working for the Morfasson family who eventually send him to Spain in order to hunt down several fugitives. Now the issue I’ve had for a while is how to i get Charlie into the position where he works for the Morfassons and gets sent to Spain… Do they approach him? Does somebody introduce them? Does he suddenly decide one day to sign up? The idea of Charlie stealing the jewels now gives me the opportunity to introduce them at an earlier point and use that moment as a catalyst for the main plot.
And how does he come to be . Charlie tells his friends (Jeremy, Francis and Henry) all about the church where he met Violet, though he doesn’t mention her as he doesn’t want to be thought of as ‘soft.’ As usual he exaggerates and says that it’s full of demons which leads to his friends getting very excited and they head off towards the church for some adventure. Imagination in childhood is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. If Kids knew how to wield that power then all adults would probably in trouble. What i was aiming for here was to capture the essence and the complete innocence of that child like imagination. Charlie finds the church (and after the short interlude where he meets the love of his life) goes back to his friends and blows their mind with tall tales of how he had encountered demons. I think that this is fairly realistic as given half a chance any child will exaggerate even the most mundane of stories to make them sound exciting… Which is exactly what happens here with Charlie. He exaggerates.
Now any seven year old boy discovering a hitherto ‘unknown’ and ‘mysterious’ location is likely to go all Indiana Jones and want to explore it to the max…Even if the presence of demons isn’t exaggerated. So, with this in mind, back at the church they have a snoop around and eventually, after finding the door locked, they decide to climb onto the roof… Which is where their collective minds melt. Over the tops of the trees they see the nearby stately home and they go wild with excitement and just presume they can wander around it at their leisure… Only Jeremy sees any sense and decides not to. I plan for this to be a crucial moment in Jeremy’s relationship with Charlie. Because Jeremy doesn’t go into the house he doesn’t get some of the opportunities Charlie gets later in life because he broke into the house. Those opportunities are going to come courtesy of meeting the Morfasson family and how they react to each other.
How they meet is fairly straight forwards when you look at it. Charlie, Francis and Henry just walk into the house and have a look around… And if you must know this is where my super pedantic OCD realism kicks in… I’ve tried to describe the house (Easton Neston, just north of Towcester) exactly as it is… Or as well as I could given the youtube ‘video’ i found. The layout may not be as exact as all that but i think it’s reasonably close to what you might expect. Once upstairs Charlie goes off on his own into one of the bedrooms… And this is where the theft happens. Charlie spies a particularly elaborate jewel and decides it will make a nice present for Violet. Thinking nobody will miss it he just takes it… It’s not master criminal stuff or even done in any morally bad way. It’s just that Charlie sees this jewel and decides to take it for Violet. He doesn’t mean to do any harm… He just thinks it will make a nice present.But that doesn’t stop him getting caught by a maid and dragged into the lounge to meet his destiny… Or more specifically the Morfassons… Or even more specifically one Morfasson and one soon-to-be Morfasson.
Now i should really backtrack here and tell any newcomers exactly who these people are. They’re kind of like the glue holding my entire shared literary universe together… A familiar constant if you like. The Morfasson are a very old and ancient family going back to at least Roman times… But they aren’t aristocrats. Sometimes they’re large, Sometimes they’re small and there’s an even a point where they’re so small they’re believed to be entirely fictional. In the shared universe they’ve got this sort of legendary status and there are these (mostly bunkum) stories about them. In truth they’re the head of a massive international mercenary outfit… Sending out hired goons across the world to perform certain operations and deal with unpleasant people who need taking out. The books actually fall into three separate categories: Firstly Morfasson centric books which are self explanatory really. An example of this type would be The Rebels. Then there are the ones that focus on other people but have them floating around somewhere but the story isn’t focused on them. EG: Charlie. Then there are the third type which are set in the shared universe but away from any Morfasson related activity… Like Dark Legend for instance. These are the type where I can go a bit wilder and a bit more outlandish in terms of plot and story type.
And with each passing generation of Morfasson comes a different type of story. Early twentieth century stories (like this one) are usually ‘light adventure’ stories with a dash of romance in there. Later 20th century stories are considerably darker and deal with more mature themes. They’re also a lot deeper. Meanwhile, stories set in the 21st century are a bit more fantastical and more techie. The modern stories are probably the most outlandish and wild in terms of content… If you’ve read Dark Legend you’ll know how radically different it is from this book and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s hard to imagine when looking at Charlie’s world that something so messed up is lying in wait eighty years round the corner… But it is. I know there are people out there who will probably negatively compare the two and bitch that one shouldn’t exist in the… But they are two separate stories and really should be treated as such. The only thing they have in common is that they take place in the same world, which is really just an aid for my OCD realism at it’s heart. Besides which, its my universe so it follows my rules and i say that anything can happen… Including a mutant apocalypse.
But anyway back to Charlie… In the lounge Charlie meets Anna and Alice… Now some of you might remember Alice from when i posted the absolutely ridiculous plot of the first version of this. She was the one who swapped places with her identical sister only to be killed by her sister’s jealous and psychopathic ex lover who thought that Alice was her sister… Thankfully her character has been completely restructured in the new version and none of that ever happens… Her identical twin is now an older sister and the two will never swap places as i think that would just be far too mad. The problem with Alice was that she never had a character of her own… She was always impersonating her sister who, lets face it, wasn’t quite right in the head. So what i have here is a chance to mould her into Charlie’s world… Make her fit into the story. With other Morfasson characters their roles in a story are usually dependent on their personality and backstory. All of the other Morfasson characters have their ‘arcs’ mapped out so usually i know where, if at all, they can fit into a story. Alice is a completely different story because she has been completely demolished in the reformation of the first book. What I’ve decided to do is play on the 1920’s era and make her a sort of upper class flapper type… She’s not really an important character in the grand scheme of things (Not for this book anyway) but she’s important enough that she needs to have a distinctive enough personality. Rather than make her a typical ‘stock’ flapper, tomboyish, flirtatious, party girl type I’ve decided to make her a sort of warm and caring, intellectual type… She’s still got a bit of flightiness and a party girl flirtatiousness but nothing too over the top. I think she’s fascinated by Charlie and she finds him adorable. What I like most about the interaction between the two is the way in which she teases Charlie and pushes him out of his comfort zone… And Charlie’s response is to get really embarrassed; which only gives Alice more fuel to use against him.
But thankfully for Charlie there’s also Anna, The lady whose Jewel was stolen, on hand to keep Alice in line. Anna is a character, like Alice, who has never been explored before. However, Anna is far more restricted in terms of character because of her extensive back story. She’s the only Morfasson who can even be classed as any form of nobility as she once an Eastern European princess. She dropped her title and any inheritance claims upon her marriage but she’s still got a strong royal air and floats around like a grand dowager even though now the only way in which she comes close is that she has access to a vast fortune and lives in a big mansion, (though not Easton Neston as i should point out, she’s only visiting there.) She’s reasonably stern and she doesn’t really take kindly to Charlie attempting to steal her jewels. She’s stern enough that she can shame Charlie into apologizing and confessing all with just a single look. She’s not made of stone though and Charlie’s story about Violet melts her heart and she very soon forgives In a way she develops a strong affection him. Later on during their meeting she shows him a lot of kindness by giving Charlie another (considerably less valuable) jewel and during a long afternoon (during which Francis and Henry are also caught stealing from the kitchens) they get to know each over over tea and crumpets. During this time they are joined by the grand patriarch of the Morfasson clan, Monty. (Anna’s only son and Alice’s fiancee.) Whilst he doesn’t develop an affection for Charlie, he gains an admiration for his spirit and what he calls his ‘charm.’
Whilst Charlie does get a ticking off for stealing the jewel and trespassing (His Grandfather is told which results in a weeks worth of scrubbing the floors), he and the Morfassons leave a distinct impression on each other. They remember each other quite distinctly. When Anna dies in the late 1920’s she even leaves Charlie a sizeable chunk of money, simply because she remembers him with some affection. Even Monty recalls him with considerable fondness. As a case in point, Edward Morfasson’s middle name is Charles… Guess where his father got that idea from 😉 . Charlie and Alice meanwhile are going to become good friends. They’ll write letters to each other and so on. There is no way any of them are forgetting about Charlie. They will remember him.
None of them will actually meet again for another ten years however. By then things in Towcester will be very different. In the meantime though it’s now just about time for Charlie to grow up…