Beautiful People #19 (Operation Convoluted Backstory)

Sorry guys! I accidentally published this yesterday, before it was ready, so I guess you might have got alerts. Oops . . .

Now, it may have escaped YOUR notice, but Cait and Skye were inconsiderate enough to post this month's Beautiful People questions while I was on a blogging break, and I'm not sure they can be forgiven.

I kid, of course. These questions are awesome and therefore I have to forgive. I'll forgive you guys too, for not noticing, if you want. ;-)
 
If you haven't heard of Beautiful People for whatever reason, then poor you. It's amazing. Basically, Cait and Skye post ten questions at the beginning of every month for you to answer and get to know more about your characters. This idea is amazingly brilliant. I've only been doing it for three months, and already my MC has such a deep backstory that I might have to write a prequel.

Read on, my friends. You''ll see.

(FYI, the character I'm answering questions about is called Grace Hawke, and she's the MC of a story which has the definitely working title of Harrow. I'll think of something better eventually. It follows her, as a housemaster's daughter, and her gossip-hungry best friend, Lorna, as they navigate the complicated world of posh boys, New Year's Eve parties, and poker.)

Do they want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?

Deep, personal question there guys! Like most confused fourteen-year-olds, Grace has absolutely no idea.

What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)

Poker chips. Grace fully believes that you can hoodwink an awful lot of people with a poker chip and a bit of ingenuity. Maybe the odd eyebrow raise. Between you and me, she does an awful lot of studying poker theory, so I guess that helps, but she likes to say it's the chips.

Don't tell me they're not physical weapons, okay? If you threw one with a bit of backspin, I'm pretty sure you could kill a man.

What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for someone else, and why did they do it?

Well . . . it's kind of a spoiler to be honest. I just wrote the scene. But the nicest thing Grace had ever done for someone before the book started was probably the day they realised her Mum had left for good. Her Dad cried for hours - she did too, but only where he couldn't see. She held back tears until she could get to a bathroom for two weeks, and then after that she only cried at night, because she knew it would break him. To quote Matilda the Musical (no, seriously), she didn't want to add to her father's pain.

It's one of the nicest things she's ever done, and the person she did it for never even knew.

Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?

Once. Only once.

Grace met Lorna when her Dad got the job at Harrow and she moved to a new school. I'm just going to remind you that she was eleven at this point, and no-one wanted to talk to her because they'd heard she lived at Harrow and thought she was a toff. (This is part of the reason she hates being associated with the boys, by the way.)

And then, on the second week, one of the boys who'd been picking on her called Lorna a sp*z. He tipped her out of her wheelchair.

And Grace punched him in the nose. That was the beginning of their friendship.

Are they a rule-follower or a rebel?

I guess it depends who you ask. Her Dad would tell you that she's never followed a rule properly in her life, but Lorna would call her best friend a goody-two-shoes. Felix and Anthony would be far too afraid of any repercussions to pass judgement. So I guess she's enough of a rebel to scare them.

Although - scaring posh boys like those two? Not that difficult.

Are they organised or messy?

Because Lorna’s the messy one, Grace has no choice but to be organised. She doesn't really have a problem with other people's untidiness - except Lorna's room, which just takes it too far - but she kind of finds herself organising her stuff out of habit. That said, don't ask her to tidy anything of yours, okay? She will point-blank refuse and probably mistrust you for a day or two (possibly more, she likes to hold grudges) because she doesn't like doing things for other people unless they really need it. Harrow boys have treated her like a skivvy far too often for that.

What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

Do you want a list? Man, I'm gonna give you a list:
  • A hug that is unapologetically and unashamedly long. The last person that did that for Grace was Lorna.
  • Someone wanting to see her, no matter what the excuse. That's definitely Felix.
  • Being told that she's believed in, that she can do whatever she wants and it doesn't matter how much money she has or who she knows. All that matters is her determination and her brains. Her Mum used to say that to her every night before she went to sleep, but no-one's uttered words to that effect since she left. It's been six years.

What do they eat for breakfast?

On weekdays, Grace’s breakfast is actively designed to avoid the boys as easily and effectively as possible. She actually pretends that her school starts earlier than it does because it’s the only way to stop her Dad dragging her to eat on the staff table (the horror), and that means eating a cereal bar on the way to Lorna’s house, where she will hide out for the fifteen minutes until they actually have to leave. Said bar usually contains hazelnuts, cranberries (never raisins) and honey, if you’re interested.

But on the weekends, the boys are either at lessons or church: she gets to eat what she likes, and it’s always the same: two Wheatabix, not microwaved but with hot milk, topped with sliced banana. Part of the reason she actively refuses to eat at the school dining hall in the mornings – other than the whole avoiding-association-with-toffs thing – is that they only ever have mini Wheatabix and will never listen to her about the hot milk.

Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened?

Mum walked out on an eight-year-old Grace and her Dad, and she might as well be dead for all the contact they've had with her since. No note. No nothing. Grace just doesn't know where she went or why.

Maybe I need to turn this into a mystery novel.

What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?)

I think I wrote about all my characters' favourite ice-cream flavours a couple of Beautiful People's ago, so you can click the link and read the essay on that if you want, but celebrations always call for a visit to the scoop shop where Lorna's sister works.

When Grace wins a big enough hand of poker online (which you are not allowed to tell her Dad about under any circumstances) she'll buy a new set of chips. The drawer in her bedroom must contain over fifty sets.

***
In the comments: Did you guys do Beautiful People this month? (Link me! Link me!) Do you like the sound of Grace, or is her backstory far too complicated? And do you think she's similar to any other characters you've written or read?
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