Beautiful People #18 (AKA I Know Nothing About My Character Day)

Hello, lovely humans! It's BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE TIME! *cue manic cheering*

If you don't know what Beautiful People is, then you're clearly messing out. It's a meme created by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In (which was a blog I hadn't looked at before now, but is undeniably too cool for school) 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?). Trust me, this is a brilliant thing; it's SO USEFUL, especially when you're still not 100% sure of your characters and their motivations.

Hopefully, this Childhood Edition will be super useful to me because . . . um . . . I know pretty much nothing about my main character’s life before the age of about thirteen. So I'm making this up as I go along.

Good luck me?

Today, I'm answering from the point of view of Grace, MC in the book I'm re-kindling with the 100 4 100 Challenge over at GoTeenWriters. Its working title is "Harrow" (although that's obviously going to change at some point, since it sucks) and it's basically a tangle of boarding school, posh boys and poker. I think I explained a bit more last month.

What is their first childhood memory?

Like most things in Grace's life, it has to do with Texas Hold 'Em. She can't have been older than three? At most? But her Uncle was staying in their crummy little Wembley flat (more details about that in a bit) and managed to sleaze the place up even further by inviting a bunch of his "buddies" - why do dodgy people always say buddies and not friends? - to a poker game. High stakes, lots of drinking, and of course they hadn't told Grace's straight-as-an-arrow Dad anything. 

Little Racie (embarrassing parental nickname alert!) was woken up at about two in the morning by her Uncle yelling at someone to make their bet, toddled down the stairs and sat herself on the man's lap, pushing all his chips into the middle pile. She can't have understood what she was doing (unless there's lots about this character that I don't know), but the guy stuck with the bet and won. Her Dad came down in the morning to find his incredibly drunk younger brother handing his two-year-old niece her second glass of whiskey.

Grace hasn't seen Uncle Raymond since.

What were their best and worst childhood experiences?

Well . . . there was this one New Boys' Tea that probably qualifies in both categories. It was the climax of Grace's Secret Past With Anthony (trust me, that's a big thing here) and ended in a hot mess so messy it's still boiling almost a year and a half later. If she even attempts to think about that conversation - or go into the boys' toilet where it happened - tears start to prick at her eyes.

But at the same time, she can't help but grin as she remembers setting out the fruit salad and custard tarts, realising that the boys she's about to meet would be HER AGE, and that she could finally speak to someone who wouldn't look down on her like a vaguely entertaining pet (this was the summer before she met Lorna, her best friend, and everyone at school thought she was a weird posh girl). She'll smile at the memory of Felix hoarding brown-breaded sandwiches and them giving her half when he realised she liked them, just because Anthony was ignoring her and she looked a "bit sad".

Oh, the confusion.

What was their childhood home like?

Grace and her Dad moved into the boarding house when she was ten, but that's never really been her childhood home. To her, childhood is a shabby little flat in Wembley with a peeling green door and a windowbox which kills its plants no matter what you do. Childhood is her Dad commuting with a bus and two trains to get from a beautiful part of London he could just about afford to live in to a building with urine-infested stairwells that isn't even in the nice bit of Wembley. Because her Mum might come back one day.

If she had, I guess the whole Harrow mess might never have happened. And Grace would be poorer for it.

What’s something that scared them as child?

The lift up to that flat was notoriously unreliable. It would make horrible growling noises and stop between floors for a few seconds; I guess Grace's fear of it wasn't helped by the older kids in the flat opposite, who delighted in telling her horrible stories about the children it had apparently swallowed and the amount of times it had supposedly plummeted people to their deaths

She'd probably still be wary of lifts if it wasn't for Lorna. Apparently, having a disabled best friend who refuses to let you go up the stairs can kind of destroy the fear through necessity.

Who did they look up to most?

It depends who you ask. Her Dad's convinced it was Peppa Pig (as proven by her two-year quest to jump in all the muddy puddles she could possibly find), any member of the family would tell you it was her Dad, and of course Anthony secretly believes he's been the light of Grace's life since they were four.

Grace would probably say Victoria Coren, so I guess I'll go with that.

Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?

I said something a couple of questions ago about Grace's love of brown bread, although to be honest it's more of a hatred of white bread. Don't bother to comment on the weirdness. She was the five-year-old that refused chocolate spread sandwiches because of the bread. She's been informed.

For some reason, she was a real raisin fan between the ages of about two and six . . . and now they literally make her want to throw up. She was forced to eat them for truth or dare once (you know, because cousins can be vicious sometimes) and it wasn't pretty. Vomit doesn't come out of shag pile carpet easily.

If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?

Well, she isn't really done with childhood yet, but by the end of this book there'll be things that she regrets, trust me. Like, multiple things. But would she choose to change them, if she could?

That would be telling.

What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?

Unpredictable. Short-fused. Far too perceptive. Basically everything that made her an unintentional handful (and a big one) for her Dad, however helpful she tried to be. 

What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?

Grace doesn't have any siblings, which considering how grouchy she is with the boys (who live in a whole other part of the house) is probably a good thing for everyone's sanity. Especially her Dad's.

They were actually really close when she was younger, what with the whole single-parent-small-family-we've-only-got-each-other mentality, but since then? Not so much. She's never quite forgiven him for moving them to the boarding house, and he's never quite forgiven her for the terrible incident that explains why she lives at Harrow instead of going to a girl's boarding school like the other housemasters' daughters.

What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?

As you can probably tell from basically everything I just said, Grace wants to play poker. Preferably in Monaco. And I don't know if she actually manages it yet, because she has at least four years to go and I can't even see as far as the end of the book.

I hope she gets there though.

In the comments: Did you do Beautiful People this month? I think it was harder than it's ever been, to be honest! (But in a good way.) And what do you think of Grace?
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  1. I'm fascinated by the idea of a girl obsessed with poker. Such an interesting angle! (And something I know nothing about... My cousin tried to teach me once and it went very wrong.)

    (Nice gifs!)

    1. Oooh, I'm glad the idea of poker fascinates you. I've always found it thrilling, but honestly Grace came from wanting to be much better at it than homework and other time constraints would ever allow me to be. Thanks for stopping by and I'm really glad you liked the post.

      (Thank you!)


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