Interest to know more about the characters in The Madison Chronicles and how I created them?
I’m currently writing and editing book two of The Madison Chronicles while book one— Sadie Madison and the Boy In The Crimson Scarf— is going out to agents. While that’s going on, here’s a blog about some of the characters in my book and how I created them.
Strangely (or perhaps not at all) I’ve realised that most of characters come from a lifetime of watching television shows. I’ve probably spent more time watching TV that doing any else (other than perhaps breathing). As a kid I watched ’80s movies every weekend. Back-to-back marathons of Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and Stars Wars were pretty common-places. My sisters also made me sit through every musical ever made. I’ve probably seen The Sound of Music, Annie and Oliver! over hundred times each.
My teens and young adult life were filled with UK comedy shows. Blackadder, Only Fools and Horses and The Brittas Empire. I must have worn those tapes down to something resembling gossamer. Throughout my time at University and beyond I plundered every HMV store for 5 for £20 bundles of VHS movies. I binged on TV shows like Alias, 24, Heroes, Prison Break, Angel / Buffy and Battlestar Galactica.
When I think about each character in The Madison Chronicles (and the other books I’m plotting) I can piece their faces together using characters and storylines from every film and TV shows that filled those thousands of hours of my life.
Here is an overview of the main characters from Sadie Madison and the Boy In The Crimson Scarf. I hope this gives you a little insight into the books and they way I work to bring these people (and they are real people, not just characters) to life.
Our title character, Sadie Madison, is a young girl with a head for adventure and a wild spirit. She has always felt different from everyone else in her family, her class, the town of Iron Bridge. Sadie is a very special girl for she cannot forget a single thing. This ability draws Sadie into a twisted web of dark secrets and uncovers an ancient prophecy known as theForetelling.
Strong female characters have always been my favourite. Sydney Bristol (Alias), Lyra Belaqua (His Dark Materials), Olivia Dunham (Fringe), and more recently Rey (The Force Awakens) and Clarke Griffin (The 100) always come to mind when I’m writing for Sadie. Despite only being twelve (going on thirteen), Sadie has a wise head on her young shoulders and I find her channeling the strength and ferocity of these (and other) great female characters. This is important as Sadie has a lot to deal with: dark secrets, physical struggles, great voyages and crushing betrayal.
Sadie’s imaginary friend Oliver is a pivotal (and eponymous, for he wears the Crimson Scarf) character in the book. Being imaginary, Oliver is magical and does many magical things; most of which he does not properly understand. Without Oliver at her side, Sadie would struggle to make it through the events that pave the roads of theForetelling.
Oliver is a thin boy dressed in black from root to leaf. He has dark hair with a thin slash of silver that hangs over one one. To me he’s part Dante (Devil May Cry) as a thirteen year old and part Elliot Taylor (E.T, The Extra-Terrestrial): quiet, introspective, and a little cautious.
Sadie’s father is a key role in The Boy in the Crimson Scarf and subsequent books. A professor of history and science at the local school, Michael is a thin, bookish man that shakes with a nervous energy. He holds the keys to many secrets in the book but is in the dark when it comes to the future promised by theForetelling.
To me, Michael is a mixture of Wesley Wyndam-Price (Buffy / Angel), Indiana Jones (classroom / museum Indy), Chief Brody (Jaws), Mackenzie Crook (pictured) and Neil Gaiman. Okay, so Neil Gaiman isn’t a character from a book or a film but his books, his storytelling have been with me for many, many years and his face always comes to mind when I’m writing for Michael Madison: a storyteller, a weaver of fantastical fiction.
Rhiannon is a recurring character in book one of The Madison Chronicles. She owns a dusty and run down bric-a-brac and antiques emporium on Iron Bridge Highstreet. Rhiannon is a strange woman. She appears to be young yet has the eyes of someone far beyond her years. As well as dry, matted blonde hair which rattles with block and gems, she wears a sweeping black dress embroidered with dragon and jasper flies and lots of silver jewellery.
Rhiannon is that Gandalf character, the wise old sage that helps Sadie on her journey. But I wanted to play around with this staple of fantasy (and most storytelling for that matter) by firstly making Rhiannon a young character (around 25) and secondly giving her a select level of knowledge rather than being an all-knowing oracle. Rhiannon has as much to learn about theFortelling as Sadie does. This dynamic pulls the characters together, forming a unique relationship that is mutually beneficial.
Other notable characters
The Madison Chronicles is packed with loads of other characters. Too many to list them all here and, to be honest, where would be the fun in that? You might also be thinking, Where’s the antagonist? Well, I don’t want to give away too much. Believe me, he’s in there, waiting. You’ll have to read Sadie Madison and the Boy in the Crimson Scarf to find out.
As well as her mother Larissa, Sadie lives with her two siblings, Natalie (16) and Joshua (10), three cats Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar and an old grey wolfhound called Atticus. She terrorised at school by Cale Boswick and his snickering followers Verden, Tobin and Xander. Father Milton, a priest and veteran, works in the Glade of Remembrance beyond the school play fields, providing tea and a sanctuary for Sadie and Oliver as they search for clues about theForetelling and the whereabout of a mysterious hospital ‘Hurtmore House’ where Sadie’s best friend Danver Tomes was taken after a fight in the schoolyard with Cale Boswick.
I’m a firm believer that a book is only as good as it’s weakest character. A story can carry so much but as soon as something does fit, or feels wrong, or fails to live up to everything that has gone before, we are yanked out of the story and left feeling a little lost. I’ve worked hard to make sure every last person- from the main character in the scene to the people standing in the background- are as developed and real as possible. I’ve looked at all their faces, given them all names, and lived with them all. I cannot wait to share them with you all.