Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Looking for a hero - Anne Rooney

With the mermaids finally out of here and lounging wetly around my agent’s office, candidates for the leading role in the next story have been pushing at the door. I don’t want to make a hasty choice – I’ll be spending a lot of time with this character and I've been swayed before by suave looks and the lure of dark exploits. So I've instituted a strict selection procedure by interview.

Name: Darius the Great

Date of birth: around 549 BCE

Where do/did you live? Persepolis, Persia (now Iran)

Current position: Great King of Persia, Pharaoh of Egypt, conqueror

How did you get your current position?
I killed the previous incumbent in a coup d’état and claimed he was an impostor.

Previous occupation: Lance-bearer

What makes you a good candidate for the role of protagonist in a novel for young people?
I am an exciting action hero and soldier. I lived in an exotic land in a spectacular palace complex of my own design. I fought battles against the Ancient Greeks. I am a good role model, since I am courageous, ambitious and fair (except when killing said previous incumbent). I treat conquered nations with consideration and compassion, and respect other belief systems.

What makes your story relevant to boys of today?
I lived through the first confrontation between the West and the Middle East. I have an enlightened attitude and do not approve of slavery. In my current position, I have organised a decent fiscal system, which might be a useful model for any young boys thinking of a career in banking.

[Ed: ‘career in banking’ is an oxymoron]

Do you have CRB clearance?
No – I have been known to kill other young people in stressful situations.

Will your story be acceptable to American booksellers and librarians? ie free from violence, use of offensive weapons (including knives, swords, lances, bow and arrows, guns, bombs), smoking, drinking, drug use, bad language, sexual activity, immoral behaviour, hedgehogs, wardrobes, sausages, mixed-race relationships, skimpy clothing.
No. There is a lot of violence, weapons, sex with siblings, bad language, drinking and skimpy clothing (I wear a garment something like a short skirt). However, there are no hedgehogs, sausages, wardrobes or smoking.

Next please!

Name: [silence. Interviewee mimes he wants paper. Writes: Andrea. I am a deaf mute. The rest of the interview is conducted on paper]

Date of birth: 1569

Where do/did you live? The Vatican

Current position: Secret assistant to Pope Gregory XIII

How did you get your current position?
The Pope bought me from my mother for two ducats. She would have drowned me in the Tiber otherwise.

Previous occupation: None – unless you count being a nuisance to my mother

What makes you a good candidate for the role of protagonist in a novel for young people?
I am young and suffer many hardships, yet rise above them and achieve something very great – though at enormous cost to myself. I am courageous and imaginative and could also be an inspiration to readers with a disability.

What makes your story relevant to boys of today?
Even the most insignificant person can overcome the tyranny of a powerful organisation if they are dedicated and resourceful.

Do you have CRB clearance?
I live under the personal protection of the Pope – I am outside the normal legal system.

Will your story be acceptable to American booksellers and librarians?
No – it reveals the most terrible secrets at the heart of the Catholic Church. And I hide in a wardrobe quite a lot.

Next please!

Name: The not-yet-Ancient Mariner

Date of birth: 1753

Where do/did you live? No fixed abode

Current position: Itinerate story-teller and some-time ship’s mate

You’re a vagrant? Er, yes

How did you get your current position?
I was press-ganged.

Previous occupation: Scallywag

What makes you a good candidate for this role?
I’ve had an exciting life, if you can call it that. A trying existence might be a better phrase. My mum was a laudanum whore and my dad – who knows? No doubt some sailor. I’m more a lesson in what to avoid than a role model. If you don’t go around killing, you might not end up in my, er, sticky situation.

What makes your story relevant to boys of today?
We all face the same growing up issues, more or less. The names of the drugs change, the pressures to join a gang vary in type, but it’s all similar stuff through the ages. And boys like monsters. My story’s got monsters. Oh yes, there are monsters. And demons, inner and outer.

Do you have CRB clearance?
It shouldn’t be a problem - I don’t have a criminal record as I have never been caught.

Will your story be acceptable to American booksellers and librarians?
The drugs, drink, rape, murder, madness and violence towards innocent animals might be a bit tricky.



Lucy Coats said...

Oh Anne! You've made my morning and made me laugh like a drain. What a brilliant concept. Sadly, I'm not sure it works on self-generated fictional characters, but I shall go away and give it a try anyway. How the hell am I going to follow this in my post tomorrow--anything I write will be an immediate anti-climax!? I can't decide between the Ancient Mariner and the deaf-mute. I feel a bit been there, done that with Darius, having had the problem of skating over immoral behavious, skimpy clothing, incest and bestiality etc in my Greek myth book (though not, as far as I remember, hedgehogs. That alone almost made me change my mind). But on balance, I think I'll come down on the side of the Ancient Mariner. I always did like a good scallywag....

Sally Nicholls said...

I'm not that fussed about the Ancient Mariner - isn't he old and smelly? I'd go with Darius, with Andrea as second choice.

What's wrong with hedgehogs?

Mary Hoffman said...

Ooh, I do hope Darius gets the job! Mind you, Andrea's predilection for wardrobes is tempting.
(is the US version of CS Lewis's Narnia book The Lion, the Witch and the Closet?)

Nick Green said...

Here's a vote for the Mariner! (He's not yet ancient, after all). I loved the poem at school, pretty much memorised the whole thing and can still recite great reams of it (I'm a fantastic guest at wedding receptions). I even remember writing an English assignment where we had to depict the Hermit discovering the Captain's Log of the ill-fated Ship, and write the account of the voyage from the captain's perspective. I believe I named the Mariner 'Fraser' as it is pretty obvious that he's Scottish. And Fraser in Dad's Army is probably quite similar ("Did ye ever hear the story of the auld empty barn? ........................... There was nothing in it!")

Linda Strachan said...

Great idea, Anne. They all sound intriguing, but for me it's definitely Andrea. Perhaps it's the idea of being a secret assistant in the Vatican, where secrets abound, and for some bizarre reason hiding in wardrobes seems suddenly appealing!

Anonymous said...

(chanting voice): Da-ri-us! Da-ri-us! Da-ri-us!

Or do you prefer cheerleaders?

Darius, Darius, he's our man, if Darius can't do it, nobody can!

But truly, all of them would make excellent main characters. ... but please choose Darius!

--from asakiyume on Livejournal (today the validation isn't working...)

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

It's a HUGE toss up between Darius and the Ancient Mariner. I fell in love with both when I was about 13... but Darius gets my final vote.

Linda said...

I vote for the hedgehog. That story has potential.