Beautiful People July 2015 (Because I HAVE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS, OKAY?)

It's been over a month since I last had some Beautiful People questions to answer, and I'm beginning to miss them dearly. I might have been scrolling through the archives to try and fill the hole, and when these questions came up I knew I had to answer them, even though I'm almost a year late. Because now I feel all summery (whoo-hoo)!

Yes, I'm also aware that the May edition was just published, but I was halfway through with these questions by the time it appeared, and anyway I like them. I'm going to do them first.

Beautiful People is a meme created by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In that allows writers to get to know their characters better by asking them questions every single month (or less, if you fancy skipping I guess - but why?). Take it from me that taking part is more fun than eating chocolate in a ball pit; you can click on the fancy little hyperlinked button to get to the meme homepage.

For this month, I'm going to answer from the POV of characters from am old WIP I'm intending to resurrect rewrite (or more accurately re-start, because I'm only 5,000 or so words in) at some point: it's set in a boarding house at Harrow School, one of the most exclusive schools in the world, and follows the housemaster's daughter as her and her gossipy best friend get hopelessly tangled in a world of strict fathers, posh boys and poker. Grace is technically the main character, but since Lorna, Anthony and Felix are pretty much as important, I figured I'd throw in bits and bobs from them as well.

1. What’s their favourite ice cream flavour?

Oooh! In my head, at least, there's a scoop shop less than a mile away from Harrow School. Lorna's sister Hattie works there, and when I finally get back to re-wrangling this mess of a WIP, it's going to be important. People have first dates. People sneak back from second dates. Stuff goes down, okay? (I just decided all this - and created the parlour - in the last five seconds thanks to this question, but hey-ho.)

Unlike Lorna, who loves experimenting to the point that she probably has ice cream commitment issues, Grace sticks to what she knows. She would marry chocolate alone in a heartbeat if she could, but mix it with ice cream (plus marshmallows coated in sticky chocolate sauce) and our favourite little main character is in heaven. That said, at a push, she'll eat any flavour - because duh, it's ice cream - except strawberry, which has always been a little too sweet.

Perhaps symbolically, strawberry is pretty much the only type of ice-cream Anthony will eat (no wonder he breaks her heart before the book even starts) because a childhood with a personal chef kind of makes you spoiled by default. If you try and add toppings to, or "contaminate" his bowl, you just might get it thrown in your face. Felix has a milk allergy, so he usually just grabs some mango sorbet, which would never be his favourite, adds a precarious pile of jelly beans - the best part of the whole dish - and complains that there isn't more dairy-free choice.

2. Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where are they going? What are they wearing? Who will they be with?

The girls, when they do actually go out, like to go the whole hog. They usually head to this one American diner that has karaoke, where they will scream out the lyrics to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and try not to get booed off the stage. Imagine them getting ready as a slightly tuned-down version of that, putting weird things in Grace's soda-stream and trying to keep their music down low enough to keep her Dad happy. They don't usually succeed.

Anthony and Felix don't tend to have half as much of a good time, in that going out in term time usually involves sneaking out. They have to do the whole thing taking turns in the bathroom in the dark, because it's the one place in the whole house that has a lock. Once they've managed to change with as much dignity as they can muster, they'll climb out of the window onto the gravel.

Grace always says she can help catch, but they generally end up with bruising because she's jumped out the way (oops...)

3. Look at your character’s feet. Describe what you see there. Do they wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Are they in socks that are ratty and full of holes? What do they consider comfortable and what do they consider agony?

Because the boys spend 95% of their time in school uniform, they usually wear proper black leather shoes, the kind with turned-up toes and heels that clack on wooden floors. Felix's are, without fail, scuffed to the point where they're almost grey. He's constantly on custos (a Harrow punishment for uniform violations that involves getting up at an impossible hour) for some untidiness or another. Mostly because he just hates the whole uniform and all its toffiness.

Anthony likes to think that his shoes are always immaculately shone, but after a few weeks of term they're pretty much the same as everyone else's: it turns out you can pack shoe polish, but the Butler who shines them for you at home is a little harder to fit in the suitcase.

4. Do they have any birthmark or scars? Where are they and how did they get them?

Lorna has all kinds of scars on her legs and feet from various operations (she has Cerebral Palsy, like me, and spends most of her time in a wheelchair) but I guess she'd say that they aren't really worth thinking about. Grace has a much more interesting one above her left eye that slices through her eyebrow.

I don't want to say too much, but she won't tell Felix, her main love interest, how she got it. Anthony knows.

5. What kind of music do they listen to? Does it change depending on their mood or is it always consistent? (Feel free to share samples!)

Lorna's favourite song is Born This Way by Lady Gaga, mostly because of the be-yourself-it's-okay lyrics, and she likes her music to be loud, and upbeat, maybe even a little brash. When she feels down, it just gets louder and more upbeat as she tries to out-thump her confusion and sadness.

Grace has a not-so-secret love of classical; it helps her focus when she's studying - poker theory, not schoolwork - and frankly she doesn't have much time to listen to anything else unless she's with Lorna. It's so emotional, so mood-dependant for her that she rarely listens to the same piece more than once a month, but this is Thomas Albioni's Adagio in G Minor, that she's listening to in the last scene.

. . . I'm going to let you guess how heartbreaking that scene is. Sorry.

All - or pretty much all - Harrow boys are posh, but Anthony has an actual ancestral home. He grew up being jealous (or at least pretending to be jealous) of his brother's title. So, naturally, he listens to N-Dubz. Maybe a little bit of Tiny Tempah, if he's really in the mood. 

And . . . Felix is obsessed with the Beatles.

6. Do they have any musical talent? Play an instrument? How’s their singing voice?

I think the section on Grace and Lorna's karaoke prowess tells you enough to know that - while all four of them are pretty happy to sing when it's loud and no-one really cares what you sound like - my lovely primary characters do not have brilliant singing voices. Felix plays the violin, badly, and is constantly mocked by the music scholars in the house for the not-quite-cat-screeching - it's close.

7. What kind of book would you catch them reading?

It's getting to a point where I think I need to come up with a ship name for Grace and her poker books. She spends so much time studying the theory of the game that it's more difficult to catch her without a book than reading one, although she does like fast-paced thrillery novels now and again.

As a diehard fashionatista, Lorna likes to read historicals for their clothing descriptions. Her favourite character is of course Lola from Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door (because Lorna also believes that the same outfit should never be worn twice).

Anthony reads more than you'd think, classics mostly, and Felix never gave up his childhood obsession with graphic novels. (His favourite superhero will always be Professor X.)

8. How would they spend their summers (or their holidays)?

For Grace, the holidays mean a few boy-free weeks, and some precious time without having to tiptoe round toffs (her words, not mine) in her own house. She usually ends up claiming the empty boys' side as her own, having sleepovers with Lorna in a different room every night: they've never attempted it in Anthony and Felix's room for fear of being mind read and killed for it.

As for what the boys get up to (other than one very memorable New Year house party that will be detailed much more interestingly if I get round to restarting), that's yet another mystery of their star-studded lives.

Maybe skiing?

9. It’s Saturday at noon. What is your character doing? Give details. Ex. If they’re eating breakfast, what’s on the menu? Are they hiking, shopping, lazing around?

The boys have lessons, so of course the girls make a big deal of sleeping in because they can.

10. Is there anything your character wants to be free of?

Grace honestly just wants to be free of her house - she grows to love Felix and tolerate Anthony, but at least starting the book, the boys represent the stupidity of last year and the overprotectiveness of her Dad.

Basically all the reasons she can't go to Monte Carlo and play poker.

Lorna's is an odd one, I guess, but she wishes her parents and Grace could be free of having to care for her.

Anthony wants freedom from having to go to Church. It's complicated, but his family basically make sure he goes during term time, and as a not-so-secret atheist he feels like a hypocrite.

Felix wants freedom not from his family exactly, because he loves them more than anything, but from their traditions, especially the one that means they need to hide their dwindling finances for pride - and that he has to win a notoriously difficult scholarship and hide the achievement just so his parents won't lose face.

In the comments: Will you forgive my rebellion of answering the wrong questions? Which was your favourite response? And what are YOUR characters like? I want to meet them badly.

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  1. I definitely forgive your rebellion. ;D THIS WAS GREAT TO READ! And also I'm in looove with classical music and I've always adored that Adiago. I think I had it on repeat for like most of a year once. XD hehe.
    Also that ice cream photo is making me craaaaaave ice cream omg. Ahem.

    (Thanks for joining in!!)

    1. Oh, thank you! Your forgiveness means so much to me. And . . . you love classical music as much as I do? THIS IS A HAPPY DAY. I've been known to listen to Vivaldi's Spring so much the record breaks, so I know the urge to repeat.

      I will never apologise for making you crave ice cream. It's the best. And I'm glad my GIF usage has been appreciated.

      (Thank you for making an awesome meme!)


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