Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera, a mystery...Sorry, my sister wanted to watch Phantom again last week, and I couldn't let her watch it without me.
What I meant to say is: Some of you may recall the redheaded Time Captive by the name of Eleanor who appeared briefly in Creighton Hill. You may also recall my addictive use of flashbacks, or what I like to call "the Once Upon a Time effect." So you may be interested in knowing that the character featured in flashbacks in this book is Eleanor.
I'm not quite sure how it ended up being her. Probably because only a handful of them really wanted their backstory known, she was one of them, and since I somehow got it fixed in my mind that she went to sea, she was the perfect one for this book (there's a lot of sailing involved). She started out in my mind as a pretty normal girl. She grew up during the Great Depression with only brothers, three of them, I think, which made her resourceful and adventurous. She did sort of like stories, as she tries at first, rather unsuccessfully, to compare Calhortea to Oz. But she grew so much as I wrote about her. Her fears became known to me, her desires, her friendships. And yes, now that I'm older, when I introduce a character of the opposite gender of the one in question, I immediately try to ship them, even when I know I can't make it canon. You'd think as the author I could make my ships canon, but I can't always. Just think "School Reunion," Doctor Who, Series 2. But I'm getting off topic. I do that a lot. Just ask Kendra and Amanda.
Once I decided Eleanor went to sea, I decided she had to somehow connect to Captain Jeremy Herb. It was a little difficult to get the dates to work out, but I managed, and so, through Eleanor, you get to see his backstory as well. Did I mention I love backstory? I blame OUAT, even though I think I'm falling out of the fandom.
I also discovered how difficult it is to do story research on sailing. Or maybe I just had a bad library and unhelpful search terms. Anyhow, I ended up gleaning a lot of stuff on how to write on shipboard from The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. Fantastic book, very complicated and mysterious. Not nearly as creepy as Something Upstairs. I also applied what I learned visiting replicas of the Nina and the Pinta. I wanted to give Eleanor as realistic a setting as I could. And I couldn't help throwing in a few orphanage references later on in her story. Hey, I was a huge fan of Annie as a child.
Eleanor turned out to be one of those easy to develop characters. Sure, it ended up being kind of depressing to write her, since she ends up being a rather depressed person, but she's another one of those characters whose life I want to fix. Never mind the fact that I'm the one who ruined it in the first place. I love her. Her backstory continues into Crannig Castle, where she finally finds some conclusion for her woes.
Side note, her name comes from Eleanor Roosevelt. I really kind of don't like Eleanor Roosevelt, feminists and progressives really aren't my thing, but I do like her name, and well, I was cheating. Rather than looking up period names for the older Time Captives, I just named them after presidents and First Ladies from the era. Jonathan is the first to not be named after one. Well, aside from Samantha. She was named after the American Girl.