For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.
Curriculum vitae: Well, that is what CV has come to stand for, anyway. It comes from the Latin, and means, unless I have mistranslated, a course of life.
I could spend the rest of this post discussing my CV. Except that strikes me as a rather boring thing to do, especially when I am too ill to hold down a ‘normal’ occupation. And I don’t think that most people would be interested in my (lack of) employment history.
But what of the curriculum vitae of your characters, if you are a writer? Characters all need a back history. They should not be newborn onto the page. It does not mean that you have to create a novel worth of background for them. But you should give thought to what your major characters have done prior to the beginning of your novel.
The two characters whom I have used the most are John Briggs and William Prenderghast. As I began the first novel featuring them – He Sees His World In Red – I knew what Briggs had done with his life so far. He had spent most of his adult life in the Metropolitan Police, and he had become totally fed up with his career, to such an extent that he was thinking about quitting the police.
As I began writing I had not worked out the back history of Prenderghast. Perhaps I should have done so before he made his first appearance. But I had not originally intended that my gas-lamp fantasy novels be about the wonderful partnership between Briggs and Prenderghast. I had first conceived Prenderghast as a supporting character, and the main character of that first novel was supposed to have been Briggs. Prenderghast, though, although not initially as well thought out as Briggs, refused to do anything other than share the limelight.
I should have planned out Prenderghast’s history from the start. But I was still learning my trade as a writer, I guess, and the background of Prenderghast was worked out as I went along, bits of his past life revealed here and there.
Prenderghast went to High Tor in his youth, while the wizard’s parents were in India. Prenderghast himself spent a fair amount of time in the sub-continent, in his very early years.
It was at High Tor, in Glastonbury, that Prenderghast learned his Magick. His mother, Sarah, died when he was still very young. His father, Thomas, was a merchant.
As a young man, using the money which his father had made, Prenderghast explored several areas of the world. He went into Thibet, where he allegedly encountered the Yeti. This was despite the fact that, at the time, Thibet was a closed realm to foreigners (and especially the British).
Prenderghast also went into central Africa, where he shot a pterodactyl. That pterodactyl was eventually stuffed, and hung from the ceiling of the living room of Prenderghast’s lodgings in London.
By the time that Prenderghast first encountered Briggs the wizard had settled down into a rather idle life in London. He had become bored, wasting his time messing around with his ideas for new inventions. By the time that Briggs entered that alternate London there was nothing which Prenderghast secretly desired than taking part in some perilous adventure…
The above is the potted history of one of my main characters. I don’t think that I’m giving too much away by what I have written in the section above. I could easily have made it a lot longer, drawing on what I have written in my books concerning Prenderghast’s history. But I would prefer it if some readers discovered that history fore themselves.