Thanks to all who expressed interest in my NaNoWriMo project! The challenge officially starts at midnight, tonight, but I probably will start tomorrow afternoon. My goal is not necessarily to reach 50k words, but to finish my long-running novel in progress.
Tales of Calantha is the code name for the novel – a story that originated in my head about ten years ago and which I’ve been seriously writing for the past couple of years. Lately I’ve described it as half-spoof, half-serious combination of different Victorian tropes and themes, especially from Gothic novels.
In this post, I thought it would be fun to go over different elements of the story and some real Victorian novels that inspired it.
Brimshaw – Inspiration: Thornfield Hall from Jane Eyre
An old house situated on a cliff in an isolated forest. Inside, it’s a mishmash of Baroque architecture, collectibles, and curiosities…plus the obligatory secret passage!
The Conservatory – Inspiration: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Abandoned, overgrown, and dangerously derelict, the conservatory is a character in itself. You don’t really know what (or who) you’re going to meet.
The Exposition – Inspiration: The real-life Great Exhibition as portrayed in North and South (2005 adaptation)
This festive event and technology expo brings together an ensemble of characters into sort of a “calm before the storm.” Things get kind of Dostoyevskian here, with plenty of inner (or outward?) monologues and dramatic encounters. Good times.
Sylvia – Inspiration: N/A
Eccentric and complex, Sylvia grew up ostracized from society due to her family’s misfortunes, then became an unexpected heiress. Her wealth becomes a double-edged sword, surpassing even the best of intentions.
September – Inspiration: The quintessential Victorian narrator, e.g. Watson or Walter Hartright from A Woman in White
He’s well educated, well meaning, and – like all good first-person narrators – just a little bit nosy. September has always been close to his cousin Sylvia and, after some harrowing events, begins to grow concerned for her safety.
Nicholas – Inspiration: T. E. Lawrence
A decorated colonel in disguise, Nicholas is tasked with intelligence gathering for a neighboring superpower nation. He meets Sylvia almost by accident.
Julian – Inspiration: All the Byronic heroes, starting with Mr. Rochester
In terms of origin, Julian is one of the oldest of the characters (villains usually are). While maintaining an outward moral high ground, he’s really a scoundrel who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.
I don’t want to give away the plot, but I can say that Verne, Hawthorne, and (of course) the Brontes figure heavily in the inspiration for it. There’s a voyage, a natural disaster, some strange events, and plenty of conflict on the personal and societal levels.
I’ll be honest, I still don’t know precisely how it ends, just some of the scenes.