Historical Connections in Wonderland: Alice Pick a Card

So, this post is happening a lot later than it should have, and a lot of that has to do with extensive rewrites on the Prison of Hearts and writer’s block in general, which I’ll probably make a post about eventually (as well as someday explaining the business side of things for people who follow me to learn about writing), but the appearance of this post means that Alice in the Prison of Hearts is close to done, and that I’m starting to plot other series and will be finishing up the last book in Alice as soon as possible.

It was a very deliberate action on my part to put this off as long as possible, because believe it or not, I did an excessive amount of research when it came to Wonderland, and a majority of the characters in Pick a Card correspond to one or multiple historical figures, as well as there being an absolute abundance of references throughout the book that have made them take obscenely long to write and edit.

Like far too long. I never want to do this amount of research again.

But history and other media is a really good way to find inspiration and figure out your stories, so if you want to learn about how I came up with the premise for Alice: Pick a Card, here you are. There are obvious spoilers for Alice in the Land of Clovers here, as well as a few other books on accident, so read at your own risk.

This is not a comprehensive post, because I think that would be much better suited for when the series formally ends, but this is a very in-depth glimpse as to the historical figures who have influenced different characters in Wonderland.

Again, read at your own risk, because you very well may infer something that you don’t want to or assume something that is wholly incorrect, but as we wait for Hearts to exit editing (having taken an insanely long time), I thought that maybe… perhaps… this might be the right time for this.

Please note that we are about to get into an insane amount of English and European history, and I am, of course, very very sorry. Also this post is obscenely long so non-Pick a Card fans beware.

Premise:

To start off, I wanted to discuss my premise and where this all comes from.

What you need to know about me is that I graduated with a Bachelors in English from University of Wisconsin: River Falls in 2019 and an emphasis in Creative Writing. Part of the university’s approach to my degree program was to have us try out different forms of writing, read various periods of literature, study a major author, and of course take genre courses. My genre courses were Science Fiction and Fantasy, which were two separate courses both taught by the amazing Dr. Klemp that furthered my love of the genres. I also took Screenwriting under Dr. Rein, which sort of shaped my approach to everything in teaching me how to dissect the plot of a soap opera– which wasn’t the amazing Joe Rein’s intention but sadly, I love soap operas (sorry, Dr. Rein!)

While I was in Literature of Fantasy I did projects dissecting Lewis Carroll as an author, the Princess Bride’s novelization, and talked a lot about the Studio Ghibli films. I love all the above, they shaped my approach to fantasy to this day (Ghibli especially is why I do more immersive whimsical fantasy and explore various tropes, please for the love of god see Spirited Away but also note that my concept of magic houses is inspired by a variety of media that also includes the theatrical classic Monster House.)

So, I have a semi strong background in Fantasy, I’m a bit of a Carroll nut, and I believe in full fantasy immersion without going all Lord of the Rings on your guys. That’s what you need to take away here.

In the original inception of the plot, Alice’s father got her to go to Wonderland in order to become the Queen of Hearts and rule the whole thing. She fell in love with a Card, Kaeden was evil, and Alice’s dad just went off somewhere never to be heard from again. I hated this plot, scrapped it, then watched Kiki’s delivery service for the seventh time.

The next version of the plot is inspired by Kiki’s radio. Alice has a radio, it’s the eighties, she hears her father trapped on the other side in Wonderland. She goes to Wonderland to save him, Kaeden has him in a dungeon, and the Rabbit offers to save her father in exchange for her hand. But, argh! She’s in love with a card. This was okay, but it still sucked.

The WW2 element was inspired by a photo of a WW2 pocket watch I was looking at for the cover about four chapters into the radio plot. I brought it up to my friend, mentioned that it was a British pocket watch, she said she didn’t think England did anything in WW2, and here we are.

It just gave more to the story and allowed Alice as a series to be sort of a love note to my childhood and heritage. I loved the stories about my grandmothers in England, and I loved hearing about my mother growing up in Stowmarket, Suffolk. I had been to England as a child and while the bulk of my memory was of it being cold and rainy, I wanted to have a little fun with British history, my history, and literary history. I had also digested a bunch of Alice media in search of something like what I was planning and found it all woefully devoid; I wasn’t a fan of modern Alice retellings, and I didn’t like the common trope of her being an asylum patient. While there were a lot of reverse harem and dating sim styled books for it out, I didn’t like contemporary Alice or mafia based retellings. I’m just not a mafia girl.

In initial pre-plotting for the book, it was all going to be reverse harem and I was going to cash in.

You see, I had asked four of my close friends to list their preferred love interest for Alice in Wonderland and no two listed the same person, which sort of solidified the four Card Kingdom thing. Then I added in Thomas, said I was going to make it a five way reverse harem, and if I failed? Just choose whatever one of them won my poll to be the love interest.

Turns out I suck at reverse harem writing, and I’m bad at being ambiguous. I decided on a final love interest midbook, then changed my mind near the end, then changed my mind again at the very end and prayed to god no one would figure out who the end game was with the whole not knowing thing in my favor. Of course, editing screwed that up a little and I had to add in more hints, but I still thought I had the upper hand and it would be a surprise.

I knew it was all over when I got a message two weeks after the first book dropped:

I can tell it’s going to be him because he’s tall, quiet, and studious. If freckles are mentioned, I’ll know for sure.

Dammit.

I read that message and banged my head on my keyboard. Was I really that predictable? Is it really that easy to shortlist who the heroes of my romance novels will be based on that criteria? Apparently it is, because she identified not only my first choice end game love interest, but also the back up two– in order.

I guess I have a type? Whatever, we’ll talk about it more below.

Characters

Alice

Alice takes elements from the original Alice in the story, modern sentiments, and a portions of her mother’s personality. She does not take any basis from Alice Liddell, largely because it is dubious as to whether or not she was the inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and because the history between Liddell and Carroll is often called into question. More than that I did not want to apply an imaginary persona to a real little girl, I didn’t feel comfortable with that.

Alice is stubborn, judgmental, impulsive, rude, and never knows when to shut her mouth. She is also kind, brave, determined, occasionally optimistic, creative, and accepting. I think that there are a lot of really great traits about Alice Grey, and a lot of who she ended up being as a character was based around this notion of a woman who could end up in Wonderland, survive without much difficulty, and cause as much trouble as possible. There weren’t really many historic or literary figures whose sole purpose was to cause trouble on a mass scale, so Alice was formed independent of all of that.

The largest deciding factor for Alice’s personality was that I wanted someone who was capable of existing in England at the time and knowing how society worked to an undeniable extent, but also behaved in such a way that she never truly felt she fit in. There had to be a reason for Alice to accept she was in Wonderland fairly quickly, and to keep moving along despite all of the awful things that happened to her and the conclusions about wonderland and her life that she inevitably came to. Thus, Alice.

A common joke among my friends is that she got to Wonderland, saw the men, and then just immediately forgot about her dead dad. This is not true, but makes me laugh.

A fun fact is that Alice’s last name comes from Earl Grey tea, but her last name was almost derived from my mother’s favorite tea brand, PG Tips. I’m not going to say what her original last name was, because it was bad, but if you look up PG tips’ original name you’ll sadly realize that Alice’s last name almost referred to digestion.

I’m amazing at naming things.

The King of Cards, Father Time, the Duchess of All, the Queen of Hearts, and Eleanor Grey Who Considers Herself Rather Ordinary and Not Worth Much Note

The King of Cards

We’re starting with the King of Cards, whose storyline resemblance to Henry the eighth is so obvious that I quite frankly regard it as almost obnoxious. I’ve never seen a reviewer mention anything about Henry, but I think it’s because the King of Cards is just so pointedly him that there’s really no need to touch on it much here.

A succession of dead wives, an lecherous air about him, dubious health, and a holier than thou attitude; I knew exactly who I wanted Cornelius to be from the very start because of Henry, and the story quite honestly would not exist without him. After basing the King of Cards so heavily after Henry, it sort of became par for the course that the other characters would also heavily reference notable little bits of history and provide a sort of easter egg for the historically in the know, and the King’s love of gambling and literature sort of led into the character that I chose to shape Reginald into.

Reginald Grey

Initially, Reginald was conceived as a sort of selfish pounce.

You see, I had fallen in love with the idea of a friendship between two men who were almost brothers to each other, and the notion that an near ordinary man would be capable of taking a bride from a King, but somewhere along the line the idea sort of fell through with me. I didn’t like the idea of Alice going into Wonderland to solve the mystery of who killed her tail-chasing father, and I decided once the actual plot for the book was set in stone to design Reginald to be the sort of man that Lewis Carroll would have actually liked.

And so a lot of who Reginald was became a sort of tribute to Carroll. Or rather, to the man behind the pen, Charles Dodgson. Reginald’s career as an engineer and his passion for literature are both references to Dodgson’s background, as well as his position as a professor at Oxford University (though you can find Dodgson referenced by both his penname and real name throughout the books, and in the first book Eleanor indicated one of her husband’s former colleagues being Charles Dodgson.)

Other parts of his character weave in and out of history, and are meant to be sort of red herrings as well. Take for example Reginald’s older age and his position as a professor as well as the concept of him going off to war that Alice believed so completely in the first few chapters of the first book– A man like Reginald, who was nearing fifty and considered a prestigious professor at an important English university would not have been drafted, nor would his wife really be gearing up to give permission for him to leave. That part was meant to seem a bit funny.

What was not intended to be funny was the fact that, for the life of me, I could not remember if I gave Reginald a cane, nor if he had any mention of polio in his backstory. At the point where the idea came up once again where I was looking to so much as mention polio and make everything super depressing, I had completely forgotten whether all of that made it into the book or if my editor’s infamous red pen knocked it out. In the end, I read through all of the books again and again, didn’t find anything, and then decided to just be done with it; no polio for him. His story was already depressing enough.

Listen, sometimes we just have to keep moving on.

The Duchess

The Duchess’s behavior and appearance was already pretty well dictated by the books. Her illustration is, in fact, based off of a historical figure, the original illustrator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, John Tenniel, having based the appearance of the Duchess off of the painting you see right to the right, the Ugly Duchess by Quentin Matsys. The ugly duchess supposedly portrays Margaret, Countess of Tyrol, but the Duchess herself in my books is actually based on multiple media portrayals of Queen Victoria and the public stereotype of an English royal.

Queen Victoria can be sort of a controversial figure in British storytelling, and people sort of go either way with her, but I wanted to lean into the nastier stereotypes just because of who the Duchess was in the original book and the behavior one could explain with a woman who behaved in a way such as Victoria’s caricatures depicted.

There is, of course, a lot of mad people in Wonderland, but I felt like the Duchess was a very good chance to show the sort of person that the King of Cards’ sons could have grown up to be like, and the marvelous fact that they somehow did not end up such a way. Her throwing the wineglass at Kaeden and him dodging it is probably one of my favorite scenes in Wonderland, and I love the sort of dialogue she allows for.

In the back of my head, I’ve always sort of imagined that the Duchess had a very skinny, lengthy husband once. One that she very obviously loved to death. One day she squeezed him too hard, however, and pop! Or something to that regard. Heart broken and beside herself with the fact that she had no one to love, she convinced herself that her husband would not leave her all alone, she absolutely had to be pregnant. However, tired from carrying for a very obviously grieving (and not pregnant) woman, her servants eventually set out to bait and switch her with Eustace and the Duchess has had a pig for a son ever since.

A pig that she is very, very convinced is the most handsome man in all of Wonderland, after her wonderful Claude. (She’s a bit of a cat lady, you’ll see.)

Eleanor

Eleanor is again another character based on a wide variety of things, and she was largely crafted to be a sort of feminine fatale.

The original inception of the character came as a sort of reference to my two much loved grandmothers who spent the majority of their lives in the small town of Stowmarket, England, where my mum assures me that not very much happens at all. (When asked, she also tried to suggest Stowmarket as the location for when Alice references the very worst town in England in the books– this was sadly vetoed. Stay tuned to find out what Alice thinks is the worst town.)

Both of my grandmothers were noted to be whip smart, exceedingly quick-witted, and have very British senses of humor– which is a nice way of saying they were just a bit sarcastic, perhaps a dash dark, and possibly just a little passive aggressive. (My grandmother Jean also had a wonderful habit of going up to American soldiers in England when she was growing up and asking for bubblegum with big doe eyes, which (having met her) I believe she chewed while walking away cackling menacingly, because she was a remarkably entertaining lady.)

Having met my two grandmothers and heard fleeting stories of their lives in England during and around the time when the story took place, I very obviously couldn’t imagine Eleanor as anything other than a sort of sarcastic overly entertaining British woman, one who had the sort of face that made American officers stop if only so that she could capitalize upon them.

With that idea of her in mind, she sort of became this sort of fusion of Joan Crawford (pictured above) and Marilyn Monroe in mannerisms, the type of lady who would speak softly in order to draw you in, then keep you pined beside her with a perfectly timed smile.

Eleanor was always one of my favorite characters to write because I liked the idea of this woman putting on airs for society and then sort of dropping the act whenever everyone looked away. I also loved that Eleanor could say so much more with her dialogue, and that a majority of the statements she made often had a sort of double meaning. She was just over all a very interesting sort of person to write.

(You’ll soon find that I like to write a lot of these characters.)

The Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts also takes influence from my grandmothers, or more specifically my mother’s mother who unfortunately suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Dementia can be extremely difficult for both the people suffering from it and their loved ones. It’s immensely painful to see the people you love slowly lose parts of themselves and it is a frustrating thing for a human being to go through that can cause feelings of anger and isolation.

At the time when Pick a Card takes place, there’s still a struggle to understand all of the symptoms involved and to know how to respond to these individuals, which influences the way that Reginald described the Queen of Hearts to Alice and how she was vilified by him.

I never fully knew how to address her story.

I mean, we see some of it in the Prison of Hearts and other books, but it was always a really difficult topic to broach. She is a woman who has lost her longtime partner and suffered just immense grief due to the selfish actions of a King who sought only to conqueror and dragged her into the situation that resulted in her ultimate mental decline via capitalizing on her insecurities and determination.

In initial drafts of Clovers, her correlation to Wu Zetian was more obvious, but a lot of her backstory was cut as her son was built as a character.

What you need to know about Wu Zetian is that she was a strong leader who was astonishingly smart and strategic. She was often accused of being heartless and callous, at least in the research I did about her, and she’s considered an extremely controversial figure. What I liked about her was the fact that she was a different person from every single viewpoint you took, and you could either believe her to be the victim of misfortune or someone who was malicious to begin with. I always wanted there to be a sort of ambitious nature to the Queen of Heart’s tale and a lingering question as to who she was in the time before her illness. Because we spend so much time with Kaeden we see a lot of her positive traits, but there’s still an underlying question of who she was.

If you’ve read the Rabbit’s prologue, you also got a peek into the sort of life that the women who loved the King of Cards lived, where there’s an allusion as to the different approaches concubines could have towards each other. The Queen of Heart’s relationship with the Queen of Diamonds plays a bit more into that and in the prologue you see the Queen of Diamonds trying to position her son to be the choice for an heir and pushing the Queen of Hearts into harm’s way as a result. This was a deliberate reference to the Chinese Concubines and Wu’s questionable tale and is deliberately framed through Fitz’s eyes as a look into the minds of the children who were pit against each other in their mothers’ games.

Cards

This is probably the bit that everyone will skip to.

I’m going to preface this by saying that a really large part of the character development process was effected by the size of the cast, and that every king was given a primary issue to work on during the books that sort of guided their storyline. I’ll also talk a little bit about coupling logic in relation to this but basically the gist was this: all Kings needed to conqueror their flaws in a way that made sense, and to be with Alice they had to acknowledge and grow from their big old stupid flaws. Some of them are doing a great job where we stand in the story, some of them are not.

I’m starting in birth order, so if you remember that William is the eldest and Kaeden is the youngest, then you’ve pretty much got half of this list figured out.

William

In the order in which they are pictured, the inspirations for William were King George the Third, King James the Sixth, and Ludwig the second of Bavaria.

You’ll note that a lot of these men are mad.

The largest influence is probably Ludwig, who not only withdrew almost entirely from politics but was also a noted patron of the arts who spent large sums of money in pursuit of his own personal creative projects and was later declared insane in what many believe to be an attempt to get him removed from the throne. You can see a lot of his extravagance in the many parties William throws and in an initial draft of Spades, Alice had gone to the Mad Hatter’s home to check in on him only to find not only an abundance of statues recently commissioned by him, but an absolutely massive portrait of Manon. It physically hurt me to cut that scene, I honestly thought it was so funny, but it really gave nothing to the story.

William’s near fanatical hatred of the Jabberwock and grudge against Thomas draws from his connections to James, and with the whole George thing I largely thought he would never be able to be King of Cards without Manon. The idea of his odd relationship with Manon largely stemmed from King George and you can still see hints of that to this day.

William’s primary issue was always going to be his struggle to grapple with the duties he was born to fulfill. Throughout the books he’s struggling with the idea of who he is and what he’s meant to be. I always wanted it to be that part of the reason the King of Cards’ title is set to pass the way that it is is because of William’s reluctance to accept responsibility, and that in his attempts to stay young and reclaim a childhood that was partially taken from him with his father’s political ambitions and the care of his brothers put on his shoulders, he ends up hurting the people around him. He frustrates Alice a lot because of this flaw, since he resembles Peter, the man who Alice was infatuated with in England, so much– yet in accepting responsibility to behaving as a grown up, William is the exact opposite.

I get asked a lot if William actually loves Manon, the answer is this:
I don’t think that William loved Manon in Clovers, nor Diamonds, nor Spades. I think a lot of his relationship with Manon is regret for how his actions have affected her, and the heartbreaking realization that in the end his refusal to take responsibility had a cost and he ended up hurting her in a way that is not easily fixable. I think that he admires her, and that she has so many wonderful traits that he’s envious of, especially since she’s able to take responsibility for her actions and put her country first a majority of the time– but I think the two of them, at least for the very first few books, have a sort of relationship that plays into circumstances and that while Manon is willing to make the best of those circumstances and appreciate the finer details of William in a way that is similar to love, he is unable to mature enough to appreciate her for what she is.

Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald is based off of a number of fairytale archetypes, and you’ll see a lot of references to stories involving rabbits in the way that he behaves.

Notably, if a fairytale so much as hinted at a hare I made it a very large point not to mention it anywhere near his name, because rabbits and hares are different creatures dear readers, and hares are, quite honestly, terrifying.

Left, rabbit. Right? A hare who would kill a man in an instant. These things are insane, they’re basically like bunnies on steroids. God help us all.

He also was meant to give a sort of princely vibe and seem a lot more charming, but then Alice’s character was developed a bit more and I came to the conclusion that she would not be all that happy with being dragged of into another world by a rabbit, so there we were.

Fitzgerald also takes a lot of influence from Napoleon, and I always liked to think that because of this he embodies a lot of Alice’s worst traits paired with a few eccentricities.

I’ve always believed that Fitz could be an excellent King of Cards, but he has an egotistical nature and is rarely satisfied. He is also capable of weighing sacrifices and detaching himself emotionally from a situation in a way akin to Napoleon, but that also unfortunately distances him from the more emotionally charged Alice.

Fitz’s largest issue to overcome was always going to be his ego and his selfishness, which is still a part of him despite his many leadership qualities. I think he’s a man who has had the world given to him and taken away in the same breath, and that growing up being positioned to be the King of Cards instead of William effected him.

I think it can be hard to fully recognize that Fitz was the favorite of Cornelius once.

A lot of Fitzgerald’s animosity towards Kaeden stems from the fact that Fitzgerald was the one dotted on prior to Kaeden’s birth, and that he was Claude’s favorite and the one that William paid attention to. Kaeden’s conception, however, represented a near impossible win for Cornelius, as he had conquered the last Card Kingdom and the one that he was most certain he would not get due to the Queen of Heart’s marriage. When Kaeden was born, suddenly all attention shifted to him and naturally Fitz and his mother were unhappy with that. The passing on of artifacts from England, which Fitzgerald and William have actually seen, to Kaeden? Yeah, that didn’t exactly sit well, neither did Kaeden’s closeness in age to the young Alice, who Cornelius posed as being the solution for uniting his family with Reginald’s.

I always pictured Fitzgerald being discretely bullied growing up and rather frequently nitpicked by his father, I think this sort of resulted in the overly clean, self concerned actions of Fitzgerald now.

Fitzgerald’s prologue was initially written at five in the morning. The concept of him initially having twelve siblings and eating them all in the womb was a joke. The fact that it stayed in the prologue was because it was a very good joke and just said so much about who he was. Some people joked that Napoleon’s excess of siblings and his close relationship to his mother resulted in his ultimate actions and you can see that within Fitz, but I couldn’t have a litter of rabbit siblings hanging around with Fitz– it just didn’t work with the plot to have that absurdly large number of rabbit siblings hanging around with no one managing to pair off and become King of Hearts. Therefore the joke was that at some point in the womb Fitz looked around, saw competition, and decided to get started early.

It’s an absolutely horrible joke, to be honest.

Claude

Claude is far too popular and far too fun, I’ll be honest. At the time this post was composed, Claude stood at number two in the poll and is pretty frequently noted as the favorite of friends and family.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Claude takes inspiration from Lord Byron. Particularly my favorite quote about Lord Byron which was that he was, “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” Thus the idea of the Cheshire Cat being a perpetual playboy with more an a passing interest in drama and art was born.

I love Claude with all of my heart and his dialogue is some of my favorite to write because I think he maintains a certain degree of pomp and wit in reference to Byron, but Lord Byron’s biggest effect on Claude’s character was in his identity as a socialite. It’s his friends of varying natures and importance that really effected Claude as a character. I wanted Claude to have a really interesting flaw to overcome and take a nontraditional arc.

In the second to last draft of the first book, Claude was the primary love interest for books 1-3.

Here’s how he got demoted.

I decided in the end that what was the most important for Claude’s arc as a character was learning how to be a proper friend. I thought that it was a more interesting turn to take to test Claude’s loyalty and reasoning rather than see him become a reformed playboy. This doesn’t meant that Claude will never take the crown and be the best boy end of story love of our lives here, but it does means that he’s learning some harsh lessons about the fact that just because someone is kind and trustworthy to you doesn’t mean they’re good to everyone.

His struggle with friendships and knowing when to draw the line and where are also sort of further illustrated in his relationship with Manon, which isn’t expanded as much as I would like in the books but started as a sort of crush on his part and evolved into their strange occasionally flirtatious relationship. You can see him struggle to know how to be a proper friend to Alice and combat with various parts of himself through Hearts and Spades.

Also of note with Claude is that a lot of his influence also comes from both the 18th century British Dandies and the absolutely fantastic Congolese Dandies, who are just so bright and beautiful in the way that they dress that their confidence and elegance just sort of effected the way I wrote Claude. I wanted him to be a character that lit up every scene that he was in and that had style in a way that the various photo stories and documentaries I viewed portrayed, but I’m absolute garbage at writing clothes. Please, for the love of all that is good, if you’re curious about Congolese Dandies, check out this amazing photo story by the Guardian.

Fitzgerald’s reaction to his palace is a reference to the Monster of Glamis and a dropped plotline. I loved the idea of Claude terrorizing his brother with stories about his home being haunted though, and I felt the idea of Claude making up a monster to keep his nosy older brother at bay was very in line with what we knew of his family.

Kaeden Hart

Kaeden is actually one of the characters with the least historic inspiration, probably because he was create solely to be the exact opposite of Alice in nearly all ways. His original storyline was going to be one where Alice’s distrust and hesitation towards him crafted him into the villain, but that just didn’t pick up quick enough and also I liked Kaeden a bit too much. The humor of the loud, arrogant Alice finding herself with a crush on the quiet, shy Kaeden wasn’t lost on me and while his morality is still to be determined, he ended up no longer posed as the primary villain for the first half of the series and instead was positioned to be a good friend to Alice for the majority of the series.

Kaeden’s story took a lot of notes from Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to be with the woman that he loved.

While Kaeden’s journey takes a lot of twists and turns and doesn’t exactly end up like Edward’s, the idea of love conflicting with duty has always been at the forefront of my mind when writing him.

Kaeden’s largest flaw was not speaking up, which contrasts magnificently with Alice who seems incapable of shutting her mouth. He has to learn to stand up for himself and stand on his own two feet, which I felt was important because so his brothers have very vibrant personalities.

Thomas Card

Please see Thomas Seymour, who set about wooing Queen Elizabeth the 1st and is… awful. Just awful.

He is a mirror of all of Alice’s traits. Bad boy. We’re not getting into him because this post would be far too long.

Chess

We’re not getting into Bram or Oliver solely because Oliver takes heavy inspiration from the books and Bram is sadly supporting cast, but let’s talk queens.

The White and Red Queens

Roisin and Manon take pretty strong influence from Mary and Elizabeth, which I find ironic because they’re Henry the 8th’s daughters and these two have no relation to the King of Cards. Manon also has a few tiny references in her storyline to Mary Queen of Scots, but I don’t think many people will catch them and I’ll be honest part of that is my enduring love of the historical drama Reign, which is not all that historical.

I’ve always believed that Roisin and Manon are two highly intelligent young women who have run their countries well enough sans husbands and show ruthlessness hidden beneath the thin veneer of elegance. Roisin fails to mask her aggression with the same success as Manon, but I don’t think of that as a point against her.

Roisin borrows some traits from the Queen of Hearts in the books largely because people confuse the two characters due to the similarity in coloring and slightly high temperaments. She’s an extraordinarily fun character to write but she also causes a lot of confusion, and I knew when I wrote the second book that at some point I would have to refer to a separate Black Queen in order to avoid the question of why Roisin was red when chess pieces are typically white and black; this, however, left friends and family who read the books with a question as to whether the chess pieces change their colors once each war is finished and a winner is declared?

Like, the obvious order of events in Chess is that Manon and Roisin’s mother, the Black Queen, won her round of chess against her sister and then her two daughters grew into opposing sides after she passed away in preparation for another round of chess… But let’s say Roisin is to win this game of Chess, would her daughters also be the white and red queens? or would they be the white and blue? Or do they choose their colors prior to starting the chess match and Manon just so happened to choose white?

Listen man, I don’t know.

All I know is that there was no black queen and here we are.

I’m not going to talk much more about these two or Thomas or anyone because spoilers. I’m also not going to leak a chapter on this post because I have a feeling some people might touch down on this one before reading the Palace of Spades, and the first two chapters of the Prison of Hearts are major spoilers.

I’m going to find a way to leak them, you’ll see, but…

Final Notes: Sowing Seeds of Inspiration

I think it’s very important with writing to take notes from the things around you and research different topics so that you can find new interesting ways to approach plotlines. I’ve always believed that if you were stuck on a story the best solution is to learn something new in the meantime, which should help you find different ways to look at a situation. Even the smallest tidbits of information can help you further a story, and it was with a simple note about fox hunting that we’ve seen the majority of the Prison of Hearts revised and improved– anything can inspire you, and if you’re flexible enough with your thinking you can apply said anything to already existing stories and fix the drafts so that you put out a book that you actually love rather than fear wholeheartedly.

I’m not fully sure that any of the above is actually a legible paragraph, but there’s spirit in it and I hope you get something from it.

Stay tuned for more news from me regarding Hearts very soon, a later post on writer’s block (along with the sixth change of my lineup for this year), some talk about the business side of writing (because everyone asks), and the moment I inevitably try once again to use tiktok. Until then…

My current project. We’re not giving up.

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