Friday, November 30, 2007

No one is free who is a slave to the voices in their head...

This is based on some conversations with a friend about characters who start getting uppity and demanding more stage-time. In real-life, the process spans from about last March to Tuesday night just gone. Enjoy.

Warning: utterly nonsensical, and I don't even have any sherbet in my system to act as an excuse... make sure you don't trip over the random movie references...

The scene: Kirsten is at her desk, typing happily away at her laptop. Suddenly aware that she's not alone, she freezes, and turns her head slowly to see two men standing next to her with crossed arms - one a Roman general, the other a Caledonian king.

Roman: So... thought you could get away with it, did you?

Kirsten: (nonplussed) ...Away with what?

Caledonian: Writing a novel about the Roman invasion of Scotland, eh?

Kirsten: (brightening) Yeah! It's always fascinated me: you know, the thought of two intelligent, cunning, equally-matched generals fighting it out among the mountains of the Highlands -

Roman: Buttering us up won't change a thing, darling. We know you haven't featured us in it.

Kirsten: And just who are you two that I should feature you in it?

(They look at each other incredulously, then draw themselves up.)

Roman: Well, for your information, I am Gnaeus Julius Agricola, Governor of Britannia.

Caledonia: And I am Calgach the Sword, King of the Caledones. But you can call me Calgacus. Everyone else does.

Kirsten: Wow, what an honour! Can I have your autographs?

Agricola: No.

Calgacus: We're here to demand why we're not in this book-thing of yours, and then to demand that we be in it.

Kirsten: B-but I'm writing a star-crossed love story set against the backdrop of the invasion, so unless you two want me to rename it the Battle of Mons Brokebackius, then - (Agricola and Calgacus reach for their swords) - I mean, yous are in it! You both have very significant cameo roles!

Agricola: Not good enough. We want some spotlight.

Kirsten: Er... didn't your son-in-law make you the subject of an entire book? Whaddya need me for?

Agricola: Well, for starters, I'd like a nice, rounded role with backstory, conflict, emotional resolution - the works.

Calgacus: And I'm fed up with everyone talking about how great that William Wallace lad was, while I'm forgotten to history.

Kirsten: Well, to be fair, William Wallace did win the Battle of Stirling Bridge. If I remember right, you lost at Mons Graupius... (Calgacus draws his sword; Kirsten pales and drops her gaze) I'll see what I can do...

Agricola: (smiling) Great! Oh, and by the way, my son-in-law says he wouldn't mind a bit-part. I promised I'd see to it.

Kirsten: Isn't nepotism wonderful? (Agricola goes for his own sword) ...I mean, the more the merrier! Hang on, I just need to consult with my original protagonist. Marcus! Get over here!

(Marcus comes running in.)

Kirsten: Marcus, I couldn't help but notice you're quite backstory-less. I'll need some insight here.

(Marcus, terrified, whimpers and shakes his head.)

Kirsten: Oh God, not another hero with a dark and angsty past. You really don't want anyone to know about it?

(Marcus shakes his head again.)

Kirsten: Well, unfortunately, what with you being the MC and all, I can't not ignore your dark past, so... here - why don't you write it down here so I can read it?

(Marcus nods, then begins scribbling on a scrap of paper, which he then hands to Kirsten. She reads it, her eyes going wide. She looks up at Marcus incredulously.)

Kirsten: You expect me to be able to write this?

Marcus: ...Sorry.

Kirsten: It's all right. My sympathies go out to you. Well, on you go. I'll call you and Gairea back when you're needed.

(Marcus turns to leave, but then an afterthought occurs to him and he turns back.)

Marcus: Oh, by the way, Cathal says the role you're given him is far too two-dimensional and he'd like a fuller, more heroic story. And Tribune Vitulus says he's fed up being the laughing stock of the Twentieth Legion, and he wouldn't mind a spin-off novella.

Kirsten: Does he now? Well, Marcus my lad, tell Cathal I like his idea, but tell the tribune he can spin on his spin-off... if that makes any sense... ... Anyone else out there?

Marcus: Er... a priestess from Bronze Age Kilmartin. She says you met while you were on holiday. And some guy calling himself Saint Columba. He wouldn't mind turning up in a book sometime.

Kirsten: Only dealing with Roman-period characters right now. Tell them to stay in the waiting room.

(During this exchange, an immaculate man in a senator's toga has entered the scene with his wife, unnoticed by Kirsten. She turns back towards her computer, then jumps as she notices them.)

Kirsten: Who the hell are you?!

Man: (clears throat) Publius Cornelius Tacitus. You might have heard of me. And this is my wife, Julia.

Kirsten: Oh, wow! Tacitus! This is the greatest honour yet! I must be your number one fan - I mean, not so much that I'd tie you to a bed and break your ankles with a sledgehammer, but you get the idea... it's why I agreed to let you have a cameo in my book.

Tacitus: (looking slightly panicked) Yes... I've changed my mind about that. I want a bigger part.

Kirsten: B-b-but you have a nice, neat little walk-on part. Don't you like it?

Tacitus: Ye-eah... but I want a whole subplot.

Kirsten: What??

Tacitus: Let's face it, you owe me. If it weren't for me, you wouldn't have a story, now would you?

Kirsten: (mumbles) No...

Tacitus: So we have an accord? Just since you love me so much?

(Kirsten sighs, then holds out her hand resignedly for Tacitus to shake.)

Kirsten: Hey, Julia, do you want a bigger part with Tacitus? What with you two being married and all?

Julia: We are? I always get the impression he's married to his books and the cursus honorum.

Kirsten: (glancing between them) ...Well, it sounds like there's some interesting backstory going on here. Sounds like there could a be a whole book with you two -

(Julia and Tacitus look at each other, then at Kirsten)

Kirsten: ... I walked right into that one, didn't I?

(They nod.)

Tacitus: I mean, think about it: if you wrote a book with me in it, you would have an excuse to include Pliny the Younger in something, wouldn't you?

Kirsten: (hopefully) Mini-Pliny?

Tacitus: (nods) Mini-Pliny.

Kirsten: All right, let's do this!

Agricola: Er... aren't you forgetting about us?

Calgacus: Yes, aren't you going to get on with your Flavian novel first?

Demetrius of Tarsus: Get on with it!

Exiled Irish Prince: Yes, get on with it!

Cohort of mutineering Usipii: YES, GET ON WITH IT!!

Kirsten: Well, if that isn't proof I've been watching Monty Python too much...

Emperor Domitian: Get on with it!

Kirsten: (ducks her head and starts typing again) Sorry, sorry! Now, let's see... what can I do to build on the story here...?

Tacitus: (splutters in outrage) And what do you mean by that?

Kirsten: Well... come on, your account's a bit vague in places, and you're hopelessly biased. I want to write a more balanced novel. (hands a copy of The Agricola to Calgacus) Here, see what you make of it.

Calgacus: (flicking through the book) "They make a desert and call it peace"?? You actually expect me to come out with something like that?

Tacitus: (goes red) And what's wrong with it?

Kirsten: Well, to be fair, it does sound a bit like you were channeling the writers of Braveheart while you were scribbling away.

Calgacus: (mutters) William Wallace again...

Tacitus: Well, I don't care! It's historical fiction you're writing, Kirsten, so you'll just have to follow the rules, won't you?

Kirsten: I was always under that it wasn't rules that written history provided, but more sort of... guidelines...

Julia: (head in hands) Tell me she didn't.

Agricola: ...She did.

Kirsten: Okay, okay! I'll write! (gets typing again)... Now, you know what'd be good? A book - a sort of semi-sequel to this - set on the Antonine Wall.

(A centurion and his very pretty slave girl materialise with a bamf!)

Centurion: You called?

Kirsten: (pales) Oh no...

Centurion: Marcus Cocceius Firmus, centurion of the Second Legion Augusta, commanding officer of the Auchendavy fort.

Kirsten: Oh, yeah, I've read about you. If you don't mind my asking, are you, like, related to Bigus Dickus, because that is a really unfortunate name you have there...

(Firmus' jaw clenches; his slave girl titters)

Slave girl: He gets that all the time. Anyway, as his personal copyist, I've drawn up an outline of our story, and we'd like you to add some meat to the bones. What do you think?

Kirsten: I think Centurion Firmus is going to be seriously skint by the end of the book - commissioning all those altars, forking and re-forking out for you...

Firmus: Yes... (gazes wistfully at the girl)... but so worth it.

(Marcus and Gairea come running in)

Gairea: Hey, we were here first!

Agricola: Back off! I'm here now! All your Caledonia are belong to me!

Julia: Showing your age, Dad! You've had your spotlight! Move over!

Calgacus: I am not leaving until I get a different speech.

Tacitus: (rolling up the right side of his toga) O RLY?

Calgacus: YA, RLY.

Tacitus: Bring it!

(What can only be described as a "kerfuffle" descends.)

Slave girl: (snatches Firmus' vine cane and prods Kirsten) Oh, by the way, we'd like some sexual tension in with our story. Perhaps a kinky role-reversal love scene...

(Kirsten's head meets the keyboard. When she looks up, she sees that a gladiator and an actress have also now appeared from nowhere.)

Gladiator: Salve, scriptrix! I'm Lucius, and this is my girlfriend Verecunda. You might remember us from reading Women in Roman Britain and we think we could make for either a really angsty love story, or a really funny double act...

(Kirsten's head promptly implodes.)

4 comments:

Crystal said...

" No one is free who is a slave to the voices in their head..."

LOL!!! Maybe not sweet, but it sure as hell makes it more interesting, eh?? You had me smiling throughout this post!!! Good luck on it;0)

Kirsten Campbell said...

Ah, they're a good bunch, really... once I get them settled down a bit, lol!

I guess the good thing is that I'll never be short of a story. ;)

Crystal said...

That, my friend, is why I LOVE reading your blog!! Hope you had a good day!

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