Archive for the ‘Inside the Book’ Category

Character sketch: Mahindra

elephant close upIn Bharata, an altered India, Mahindra is a practitioner of magic, a patriot and advisor to the Rana of Nanpura.

In his youth he studied Anglic in the colonial schools, but became disillusioned. Years ago he fought in a failed insurgency against Anglica, paying a terrible price. But now the time to reclaim Bharata may be at hand.  With the recent completion of the Great Bridge over the Ancific Ocean, Mahindra foresees Bharata’s total cultural and economic ruin. Though he has lived the life of a renunciate, he now considers leaving his contemplative life to take an active role in a new movement of Bharata unity. As a shape-shifter, he is uniquely suited to terrorize and inspire.

With the rumored sighting of a legendary flower, the golden lotus, he believes a sign has come that Bharata and its princely states should unite under one banner. Mahindra has great powers at his disposal. He has sent a warning in the shape of a giant cobra to Londinium, where it creates havoc on the Thames. In retaliation, Anglica sends a military force across the Bridge.

The clash of cultures and arms that ensues is complicated by Mahindra’s meeting Tori Harding, a young Victorian woman on her own mission of independence. They will both be forever altered by their meeting.


My latest novel, A Thousand Perfect Things, comes out August 27 in print and e-book.  This is the third in a series of  posts on character sketches from my notebook. No matter how dramatic the plot, stories are always about people first, and their relationships to each other. #SFWAauthors

Character sketch: Captain Muir-Smith

Edmond Muir-Smith

Other characters: Tori Harding (major character), Jessa Harding, her sister, Sir Charles Littlewood, her grandfather, Col. Terrence Harding, her father.

british armyCaptain Edmond Muir-Smith has served in the army with Tori Harding’s father, and is recently back from a campaign in Bharata–that mystical continent of magical powers. His visit to the Harding household is greeted as a courtship opportunity for Jessa Harding, the youngest daughter. But Edmond takes an interest in Tori instead, finding that they share a fascination with natural science, the theories of Darwin and the scientific approach. Tori is thrown into confusion by his attentions. She has learned to suppress her longings for a love relationship; hers is a future in science (if the strictures of Victorian society will permit it.) Read More…

Character sketch: Tori Harding

My latest novel, A Thousand Perfect Things, comes out August 27 in print and e-book.  In the next few posts I’ll run character sketches from my notebook. No matter how dramatic the plot, stories are always about people first, and their relationships to each other.


TORI – Main character

In 1857 Tori Harding is eighteen years old. She lives in world where magic has lately invaded her country, escaping from a mystical continent called Bharata.

Tori is a devoted student of her grandfather, Sir Charles Mahal corner2Littlewood/ She has a passionate love of science and especially botany, a discipline learned from Sir Charles. She suffers from a club foot, and this infirmity has oddly made it acceptable for her to train in science, since she has little hope of marriage.

Far too used to expressing her opinions, Tori can be brash in social settings, something she tries (a little) to control for the sake of her sister (Jessa’s) need for a suitable match and in light of her mother’s relentless social agenda to brighten Jessa’s hopes. Read More…

Casting the book

We all know the importance of the main character, the “star” in a story. But the wider cast is also crucial adding to the drama, complexity and believability. Here are some characters who inhabit A Thousand Perfect Things (August, 2013):

Important People In Book

The year is 1857 in an altered England called Anglica and an alternate India 9781624670954named Bharata.

Major character: Tori Harding, 18 year-old student and ardent supporter of her famous botanist grandfather.

Sir Charles Littlewood, the preeminent botanist of Anglica, age 87.

Colonel Terrence Harding, Tori’s father, who supports Tori’s scientific ambitions, but only so far. Read More…

Convergence of ideas

I have no idea how the brain works, but in a novel-writing brain (er, mine at least) it works from convergence. Or at least that’s my theory this morning.

BarloughIn the excellent on line magazine, Black Gate, I read an interview with Jeffrey E. Barlough, author of the Western Lights series. He described how his latest book in the series came from combining three different writing projects he was working on. He also said that his rich alternate history world came from the intersection of 1) his interest in paleontology; 2) a love of Victorian fiction; and 3) his time as a volunteer excavator and the La Brea Tar Pits.

I often cook up story ideas that way, too. Read More…