Bootlegging on the Meet the Character Blog Tour

IN THE HOPE this will track back to an originator of this meme, the Meet the Character Blog Tour.

Here goes:

1.) What is the name of your character?

Gabrielle Francesca East (Dolly)

2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

She’s not even real. She’s an artificial person: the melding of an anima fished out of the River of Souls by the Goddess Aphrodite and a manufactured (“autocloned”) body. The anima is that of Dolly’s ancestor and karmic predecessor, also named Gabrielle Francesca, the most successful Childe of the East in history or out of it.

3.) When and where is the story set?

The core of the story is begins in February and March of 1998 on the campus of East College of the Americas, in Central Ohio. The wider epic goes from the beginning to the end.

4.) What should we know about him/her?

Dolly is insecure, unstable, cocksure, fearless, terrified of failure, strong, brittle, highly intelligent, irreverent, inexperienced, much like a newborn, determined, unstoppable. Her principle lesson at this early stage of her life is that physical strength is less important to victory than strength of will.

5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

She has been tumbled willy nilly into the middle of an epic conflict among the God which has been going on since the Stone Age.

6.) What is the personal goal of the character?

First, to survive, then to thrive.

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

Dolly’s story is an epic, spanning, possibly thirty novels. (That estimate may be low.) The first novel is for sale: The High T Shebang (The Baby Troll Chronicles Book 1) The work-in-progress has a working title of Discovery, but may be called The Origin Protocol on publication. It is being snippeted on the author’s blog, The Baby Troll Chronicles.

Discovery Rev 3: Ch3, Sc 2 & 3

DAY LATE A COUPLE HUNDRED DOLLARS SHORT. Thanks to those of you who bought a copy of The High T Shebang during the Human Wave sale last weekend. Your custom is greatly appreciated. Thank you. Othewrise, shame be upon thee who did not. We experienced our favorite (so far) sharp upward spike in sales. But, then again, zero to one is a sharp upward spike, innit?

This week’s snippet is a bit confusing in that there are two discrete story elements being introduced. The convo between Dolly and Pete is the start of a longer set piece which exposits a good bit of Pete’s back story. The tale is a brief one, but affecting, so I’m told. The second bit is the wrapping up of the carried-over “previously on…” sequence that segues us from the [as yet unpublished] novel Genesis, which ended at dawn the morning on which this current novel opens. It should be clear from this that they will not remain so in the finished work, but are plopped down here in the narrative as a kind of a place-marker — several steps up from [insert name].

The Pa’a-um

The Gabrielle Dolly

“Pete,” the dolly said. “Tell me about your father.”

When Pete had been silent for a longer time than felt comfortable, the dolly’s innate courtesy overcame her insatiable curiosity and she thought to ask:

“Is it OK? Are you allowed to tell me about him?”

“Yes,” Pete said. “It’s alright. I just… I have to think how to say things I… I had put aside. When we take up the sword, you see, we leave all that behind — family, friends, the society of our people in the Pa’a-um. The Guard becomes our Pa’a-um, and we’re supposed to forget about what went before.”

“What does that mean, Pa’a-um?”

Pete blinked. “Place of the Spirit,” she said, sounding surprised that it needed to be explained. “It also means home, village, safety, — no — sanctuary.”

“Oh,” the dolly said. “I wondered. I hear it so much.”

The Troll nodded. “It is our name for the Center… where the spirit of our People resides. There is a physical place we call Pa’a-um, where the frell may never come, because that which lives there is wholly and solely of the People. But it is also a spiritual place, the Pa’a-um is the place where your Pa’a resides.”

“Home is where the heart is,” the dolly murmured.

Pete chuckled. “Yes. Cliched and vastly oversimplified, but true nonetheless.”


A Word Ma’am?

Petra Alexandra Troll

When the dolly finally let her go — it was that kind of a hug and Pete looked into the emerald eyes for a long time during it — Pete turned to the Goddess.

“A word, Ma’am?” she asked diffidently.

Aphrodite visibly shifted her attention from… wherever it had been (Pete couldn’t have said where that was) to Pete. She lit her face up with a smile that was at once both totally focused on Pete and utterly disengaged — a sort of a royal We of smiles.

“Of course, Petra,” she said, rolling the r’s just so. Not a how may I help you? response, but more deigning to assist.

“I’ve been out of touch for the last twelve hours, getting… the other Gabrielle here and handing her off to… well, to you…” Pete waved a hand vaguely in the direction of the HQ building across the parade ground where she had put the dolly into Aphrodite’s hands barely a quarter-hour before. “How is Dr Drummond?”

Aphrodite nodded once and said, “Ah!” in a tone that implied, So that’s why you’re bothering me.

“I, too,” the Goddess said, “Have been out of touch for somewhat longer. I have however, seen that Mitchell has recovered from the blow you gave him…”

Pete winced at the memory. But he really had been asking for it.

“… and has been released from the Med Center on his own recognizance — against medical advice — and, as far as I have been able to determine, has returned home to Cincinnati to rest and recuperate.”

“Ah!” Pete replied, with a somewhat less arrogant connotation to it. “Thank you. Well, then, if that’s all…?”

Aphrodite nodded and made a wave of genial dismissal.

Pete turned and walked off toward the parked motorcycle. She didn’t exactly miss the dolly’s start toward her and manifest desire to speak with her, but felt unsure she had permission to speak with the girl, now that her part in things was done. She kept going. However, she waited a moment, sitting astride the bike, tugging at the gloves to get them all the way on, adjusting the helmet’s strap, but the girl didn’t join her, so, eventually, she started the bike up with the electric starter and drove out of the lot. She kept the engine at a low idle, waddling along part of the way balanced on the big hog between her widespread legs, threading her way through the crowd as she followed the one-way semi-circular driveway away from the mess hall and toward the BOQ. As she passed, she saw no sign of the dolly, though she looked — rather pointedly, she thought.


I’m Binge Watching Nikita on Netflix

AND AM IN THE LATTER THIRD of Season 2. It occurs to me as I watch the show and think about the producers’ storytelling techniques that one of the things you’re suppose to do in modern character-driven fiction is find the fractures in the character’s soul. Take Dolly, for example. We’re starting her story arc, with The High T Shebang, a couple-few weeks after her “birth”. You might think she’s too young to have taken enough from life to HAVE fractures.

But, really, she’s 168 years old, if you go from the date of birth of her previous incarnation. And she had an adventurous life, starting when she was still in her teens, responsible for the long-term operations of a global trading firm, traveling the world in a small ship with a tiny crew, getting into all manner of trouble and fighting her way out. Plenty of space to take damage — if she can remember it.

Or… In this current lifetime, she will inevitably take damage — the hammer blows that start cracks, the tectonic shifts that induce fissures. The pain. The war wounds. The heartache. The weltschmertz. And, as I write and you read, we get to follow along as she takes these hits, and garners these fractures in her soul.

Not speaking in a religious sense. It’s not necessary to involve religion — superstition or not — to acknowledged the existence of a soul and the effect the actions of it has on the universe.

But always remembering C.S. Lewis — You are a soul. You have a body.

Discovery Rev 3, Ch3 Sc1

THIS WEEK’S SNIPPET We start a new chapter. We have introduced the characters, the situation. Here, we move events along, and start setting up Dolly’s first jeopardy, as well as Pete’s. This one’s about a thousand words and is the first from Pete’s perspective.

An Extended Evolution

Petra Alexandra Troll

Pete took several steps back, leaning away, one hand raised in a warding gesture. The dolly met her eyes with a slight note of panic in her own expression. Not that she was afraid, but that she was unsure what portended. Then there was the flash-bang of a God teleporting out and Goddess and Man girl were gone. Pete straightened slowly, sniffing at the tang of burnt ozone.

“Time to get rolling,” she said to herself. She mounted the bike, collapsed the kickstand, and bounded up then came down on the starter arm. The Harley rumbled into life and settled into a contented-feline purr. She toed it into gear and, with a twist of the throttle, slewed the bike around and headed back toward the side road around the parade ground to the mess hall.

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Discovery, Rev 3, Ch2, Sc 3

Here we go. Seems as though late is becoming the pattern, rather than the anomaly.

Melancholy Baby Troll

The Gabrielle Dolly

The dolly’s education had been thorough. The knowledge and wisdom of the ages had been crammed down her intellectual throat, both while her body was growing to maturity in antistasis, and, since her Genesis, she had been loaded down with an academic burden that would have staggered the most precocious over-achiever (which, in truth, she was). Yes, were the exams available, she could have passed with flying colors any equivalency exam for PhD.-level learning in several diverse disciplines. However, there were gaps — even serious gaps — in her knowledge.

For example, she was clinically depressed, but didn’t know it.

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Discovery Rev 3, Ch2, Sc 2

A LITTLE LATE AGAIN today. Had a plumbing not-emergency (It’s been a problem for months, but I finally decided to come to grips with it this morning.) to deal with, which took all my time and energy until nearly now. About 1600 words this week. A long one. But a buildup toward a major set piece which will unfold over the next two-three weeks. You’ll see. A tearjerker.

Privileged Character

The Gabrielle Dolly

Baby Troll — the dolly — was a privileged character; everybody knew it. She got away with stuff all the time that would have gotten somebody else a chit for punishment detail, without doubt. And it wasn’t just because she was Aphrodite’s special pet. After all, Nana ‘Dite was a Man God. That sort cut no swagger in Troll country.

No. There was something else. Part of it might have been her slight stature combined with her toughness of spirit. (Though, here lately, she seemed to have been being a bit of a whiner. She mentally kicked herself for that and resolved to do better.) The former reminded the great, hulking frekun ang of the sheltered, diminutive billilaala, the latter of the kind of spirit and strength of will the Trolls tried to breed into themselves and train into their soldiers.

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Discovery Rev 3: Ch2, Scene 1

LATE AGAIN THIS WEEK and with the same “excuse” — no time during the week just passed to prepare the post in advance. And: yesterday was Krogering day, which always wipes me out, though I’m taking steps to prevent that in the future if I can.

This week, we tramp out new ground. You have, (except for Jaime), seen none of this before. It’s also a shorter snippet. I’ll make that up to you next week, with a longer one. But this is key to the entire Chronicle, as it tells the tale of how Dolly came to be called Baby Troll, and gives hints as to one source of the Trolls’ deep affection for the little doll. More about that later.

Also. Though I can tell from Google Analytics and other logs, that folks are visiting. And sticking around long enough to read the snippets. Nobody is commenting. Would it kill you to comment? Speak up, please.

Chapter Two

Callsign Baby Troll

The Gabrielle Dolly

When she and Aphrodite first arrived in Camp Meander via teleport, in September of ’97, the recruit company had been already a week into its training cycle. The dolly had, therefor, considerable catching up to do. She imagined and was subsequently told that there had been much debate as to whether it was wise to put her in such a position. It was seen by some as setting her up for failure. But Aphrodite was antsy and wanted her charge embarked on some activity — and meaningful activity at that; make-work was unacceptable. She asserted that the dolly would suffer far greater developmental damage from inactivity than from any possible failure. Further, she claimed, the dolly would not fail in any case.

An assessment with which the dolly was rather in greater agreement before she embarked on her training than she would be later on.

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Discovery: Chapter 1 Rev. 3 Scene 3

Not Same Place; Not Same Time

The Gabrielle Dolly

The dolly put two and two together, made a leap of the imagination, and came up with five. Bobbo had come to Meander to summon the Colonel. There must have been a reason they couldn’t just call on the phone. A security reason. They didn’t want communications intercepted. She’d had a class on that. OpSec — Operational Security. It really hadn’t been a discrete class, more a theme throughout all her training. Don’t Talk About It — whatever it was. Better yet, or simpler: Don’t Talk.

A lesson she might have learned too well, for she felt isolated among these aliens.

So the Regiment was going back to campus. It must be, she thought, that the other regiment — Boeotia, she remembered — had decamped, leaving it for Arcadia to take up station again as the garrison-slash-police force for East College. As she remembered, six months back, being on campus, before fleeing here to Camp Meander, that placed her in time.

And she realized; yesterday had been her birthday. And everybody had forgotten. She herself included.


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Discovery: Chapter 1 Rev. 3 Scenes 1 & 2

An Eighth Story Job

Marduk the Babylonian

“Aphrodite said,” explained Marduk the Babylonian, “That there were six altogether. Here’s my plan. I transport a mischief in…”

Freya the Aesir interrupted Marduk at that point. “How? Have you been to this dwelling?”

It was a reasonable question. In order to teleport to a given location, the God doing the teleportation had to have an image of the destination locus firmly fixed in his mind. The easiest way to get that was to have previously visited the place.

“No.” Marduk answered candidly. “I am availing myself of an album of photographs taken at a soiree Doctor Drummond hosted last year.”

“I see,” Freya said. “Proceed.”


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Wouldja Hate Me Forever

IF I WAS TO change horses here in mid-stream? If what you read here was to allofasudden, change direction so hard your teeth rattled?

Y’see, I had a writer’s epiphany. An ideer for a better opening hook and an improvement for overall pacing. The plan is to open with more action and push the introduction of Dolly’s situation back and pull forward parts of the story you haven’t come to, yet.

In essence, a big, “Nevermind!” Jaime and I are over here in a corner discussing it sotto voce. If she ratifies the new direction, (I suspect she will; it would be a big improvement.), I’m going to have to post a new scene and probably re-post the re-jiggered first chapter.

Fortunately, we’re not all that far along, yet.