Me Me Monday: Conversations with Christopher

Christopher sits on a chair facing a small girl with coppery curls and bronze skin, wearing a little red jacket and green skirt. She carries a large, brown teddy bear with a much smaller nose than more realistic stuffed bears which have been popular. It’s Grace, the main character of my Work In Progress, Wind Me Up, One More Time and her faithful companion, Theodora Bear.

Mist surround Christopher and Grace in this place with no objects other than the chairs they sit upon.

Christopher: I admit, I’m jealous. Our scribbler is putting My Tool, My Treasure aside so she she can work on your story during July Camp NaNoWriMo.

A red curtain materializes behind Christopher and Grace.

Quartz: (For once, it’s his voice coming from behind the curtain.) Now you know how I feel!

Grace: Hey! (She glares at the curtain and Christopher, squeezing Theodora.) Our scribbler was writing about me long before she thought of either of you! I’ve had to wait 30 years for her to come back to my story and I’m only a child!

Christopher: That’s right. You were in the very first story our scribbler wrote back when she was eleven years old.

Grace: That’s right. She wrote it in a teddy bear journal her best friend, Nathalie got for her. Nathalie told her to write all of the stories which were waiting inside her to be told. This is why the princess in that story, the one the original Grace rescues is called Nathalie.

Christopher: And your sister and idol, who raises you in Wind Me Up, One More Time is called Nathalie.

Grace: Yes. Our scribbler still has the teddy bear notebook. The story embarrassed her. A lot. She put it aside and didn’t look back at it for years.

Christopher: She didn’t forget you, though.

Grace: No, I suppose she didn’t. There was a steampunk call for Torquere Press. This made her starting thinking of Wind Me Up, One More Time, of going back to that first story and making it better. Of making Ted Edward Bear Theodora Bear. She had this idea, where Theodora was going to go from being stuffed to clockwork. Some of that idea went to Maia’s artwork in the factory.

Christopher: Maia?

Grace: I’ll get to Maia. You’ve got to tell this in order. It’s a storyteller thing. Ask Nathalie.

Christopher: (who doesn’t mention that he’s also Happily Ever After and knows a few things about storytellers himself, but that’s in his universe, this is Grace’s) Ah.

Grace: Anyway Torquere Press stopped paying people and went out of business. Wind Me Up, One More Time sat all lonely, without any place to tell it or any reason to go forward. Others stories had places. It didn’t.

Christopher: Yes, my own story has often stopped, because other stories or blogs were more pressing. Please continue.

Grace: Our scribbler offered a Wind Me Up, One More Time to Nine Star Press, a changed tale from the one rattling around in her head. She was trying to make it a holiday story. It’s still a holiday story actually. Only Nine Star Press didn’t want it. She offered it to Mischief Corner Books. They said with a few changes, it might be just right for Shenanigans Press.

Christopher: Which is Young Adult. So that’s what our scribbler is working on for July Camp NaNoWriMo. A revised version of your story.

Grace: Revised means changed, doesn’t it?

Christopher: Yes.

Grace: Uh huh, only she’s really changing it. There’s so much more in Wind Me Up, One More Time, stories within stories. Nathalie has a much bigger part, too. I’m not sure where it’s going. I hope our scribbler can finish it by the end of the month.

Christopher: Don’t count on it. She didn’t finish My Tool, My Treasure by the end of April, even though she made the word count goal of 50,000 words. The rest of the story has to wait for NaNoWriMo.

Grace’s low lip begins to tremble.

Christopher: Um, well, I could be wrong. The scribbler seems to have an idea of where she’s going with your story.

Grace: Yes, but scenes keep surprising her. There’s a lot more.

Christopher: What is Wind Me Up, One More Time about?

Grace: Nathalie and I live in a town called Verity our mum brought us to. It’s mostly women and girls. Our factory in the center of Verity is where almost everyone works. It’s kind of old-fashioned. Just like Verity itself. Our mum is missing. Nathalie tries to be my mother when she’s gone, but it’s hard, even with Maia, her special friend helping. Nat is very good at telling stories, maybe too good. I keep taking them seriously, seeing all sorts of things because of them, and telling more stories myself, which other people keep telling me aren’t real.

Christopher: This sounds bad, only telling stories shouldn’t be bad. Stories can be wondrous, magical, giving us hope.

Grace: Oh, yes! (She nods eagerly, bouncing in her seat.) They are, only people keep telling me they’re not. Maybe we’re both right. (She cocks her head to the side.) Maybe these stories are good and bad, even at the same time. Still I’m never alone during these stories. (She holds out her bear.) I’ve always got Theodora as a companion. (She settles Theodora on her knee and turns a tiny crank in her back.) Say hello, Theodora.

Theodora: Growrr.

Grace: (She giggles) That’s stuffed bear for “Hello”.

Christopher: Theodora was orginally Ted Edward, wasn’t she?

Grace: (She giggles again.) Our scribbler made her first story a tale within a tale. Only Theodora is still Theodora in it. Our original selves; the first Grace, Princess Nathalie, and Iama the Terrible are all part of a series of books. Our mum along with Maia’s mum wrote and did all the pictures in them.

Christopher: Iama the Terrible?

Grace: (She snickers a third time.) That’s Maia. Move the letters of her name around and you get Iama. Iama is the villain in the books, who captures Princess Nathalie until Grace and Theodora save her.

Christopher: Maia’s mum named her after the villain in her stories?
Grace: Auntie Cassat can be weird. Not that Maia minds. She’s very good at pretending to be Iama the Terrible. It’s only when she’s truly Iama the Terrible she’s not.

Christopher: I guess that’s part of the plot, but let’s return to your Auntie Cassat. Is that the name of Maia’s mum? The same as the Impressionist painter in the scribbler’s world history?

Grace: Yup. Our mum and our last name is Morisotte, like another famous painter. Only the spelling is different. If Lemony Snicket could have children with a name like Baudelaire, why can’t we be Cassat and Morisotte?

Christopher: (He smiles a little.) It sounds like something our scribbler would do. She already has Byron and Shelley in another Work in Progress, On the Other Side of the Mask.

Grace: Hmm? What’s that?

Christopher: Um, you might be a little young for that. Besides we’re talking about your story, remember? It sounds complex.

Grace: It sure is! I’m a child, but I grow up a bit and away. That’s what Theodora calls it when a stuffed animal’s child get older and isn’t around as much. I grow up and away, but I try to come back, bringing Nat and Maia back to. This was all part of the first holiday story.

Christopher: Well, I hope you have fun on your journey expanding your current story during Camp. I learned all sorts of things about myself in April, when part of My Tool, My Treasure was written.

Grace: Really? I hope I do, too! (She bounces in her seat, almost bobbing down in excitment, bouncing a long-suffering Theodora along with her. The things a stuffed animal endures for her child.)

Christopher: Just watch out. What the scribbler wants isn’t always what we want.

Grace: What?

Christopher: Never mind. Good luck!

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