So, Romancing the Inventor has been out for a day, no news for you yet, Gentle Reader, because, well… it has only been a day.
So I thought I’d give you a look at Imogene Hale and the character design boards behind this book. You can see the full boards on Pinterest, but I know not everyone has it.
In the Book
Imogene Hale is a lowly parlourmaid with a soul-crushing secret. Seeking solace, she takes work at a local hive, only to fall desperately in love with the amazing lady inventor the vampires are keeping in the potting shed.
Creating the Character
Imogene started out as a kind of cool snooty blond (you know, Genevieve’s type), but that wasn’t working right for the story and I couldn’t really feel her, I wanted her warmer and more grounded, more English rose and less, well, Angelique.
I went to Tess of the d’Urbervilles for inspiration, added backbone, soul, and a certain depth of self-guidance and understanding. Genevieve, after all, likes willful ladies. The thing is, Imogene had to be what Genevieve needed more than what Genevieve wanted. Imogene also must be her own self and person, and not just a Pygmalion built for Genevieve to adore.
When I made Romancing the Inventor Imogene’s story, and it was her voice that began to dominate the narrative, everything fell into place. I wrote half of RTI on a writing retreat in the space of a week, typing out 8-10k days (NOT NORMAL) and it was all because of Imogene talking to me.
A lot of Imogene’s physical appearance was drawn off the American silent film actress Maude Fealy (sometimes spelled Maud) who has a soft etherial dreamy beauty that made me think of Imogene. I also collected images of maids and downstairs female staff to understand posture, clothing, and so forth.
This novella is part Imogene discovering herself, and what she needs and how to ask for what she wants. And half Genevieve learning to love again, and to trust.
I’ve done character studies of Genevieve before, she was first written more as Q for Alexia, meets dandy meets mad-scientist trope (with a Gail twist). I’ve taken inspiration for her from diverse sources: George Sand & Colette, Vesta Tilley, Audrey Tautou’s Coco, and many more. Like Imogene, it took me writing her out in Changeless to finally understand what would make her more of a person and less of a foil. However, I feel like writing her as Vieve, before she grew up and had her heart broken, is a gift most writers don’t get. Because I could build her a foundation of delight and wonder which Imogene might remind Genevieve has still buried within.
Not that Imogene wants child-Vieve, because yech, but because one of the best things about love is that it can remind you to hope.
The inspiration board for Romancing the Inventor.
That’s all for today my darlings! A reminder I have a Facebook live this Sunday, you can ask all the questions you want of me then.
Nov. 6, 6:00 PM PST | Facebook Live Q&A
Q&A with Gail via Facebook Live on her Author Page. A spoiler free chat about Romancing the Inventor and much more.
Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella
A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Jonathon Green’s Dictionary of Slang
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
“The story is always better than your ability to write it. My belief about this is that if you ever get to the point that you think you’ve done a story justice, you’re in the wrong business.”
~ Robin McKinley
Some Steampunk Gadgets off one of my boards.
Quote of the Day:
“No, Hobbes, nailing a live octopus to a wall is impossible, everything else is merely difficult.”
~ Simon R. Green
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Imogene is a wonderful name! I carry my mother’s middle name, and my great grandmother’s name as my middle name- Emogene. It’s such a strange name these days, and I’m very excited to read a story with an Imogene in it!