The Beautiful Books 17: May

the beautiful people 17
Hey there, its time for the monthly edition of The Beautiful People, hosted by Cait and Sky, the reason why there was no edition for April was because of Camp NaNoWriMo, which unfortunately I failed miserably at (I didn’t even get to the 10K mark), then the website borked itself, to which I interpreted it as a bad omen. I think the problem is that I usually do this kind of thing in November, which is the end of the University semester, so I only have work to contend with. But during April I have work, University studies, social obligations (did I mention that my birthday is in April?) and trying to read a couple of memoirs for research purposes. So yeah, not surprised it all fell in a heap.

On the plus side, I have mid-year break from university for 25 June to 24 July and I have a mid-semester break for 26 September to 30 September, so hopefully I’ll be able to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo for July (but I won’t be waiting until July to focus on Pushing Boundaries, I’m going to try for a smaller daily word count until then). I’m hoping to have Pushing Boundaries written, edited and ready for publishing by the 1st of October, which I know is a tall order, but I know I can do it.

Questions:
How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?
James: Rarely smiles (he doesn’t smile intentionally because he doesn’t think he does it right and his attempts to smile or grin have unnerved people in the past) but he does smirk occasionally

Beth: Smiles often and would probably smile at a person she doesn’t know well, especially since she’s traveling overseas and aims to become a Primary school teacher

What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?
James: As a child, bullying was a big problem for James, nowadays it’s more isolated incidents then regular bullying, which was why Rosemary decided to home-school James in an attempt to reduce it and give James the supportive learning environment he needed (which did work to a degree). However, there are two big moments of cruelty that stand out for James, one of them being when Sophia (his step-father’s mother) essentially calls him a devil child, James embraces his status as the spawn of Satan and uses it to humorous effect. However, what hurt James wasn’t so much Sofia’s attitude but the fact that his mother didn’t say anything about it or defend him. The second big moment was when he was forcibly sent to a special needs school (a lot of them function like boarding schools in the UK) for psychological evaluation, however the staff at the school were abusive or unaware/uncaring of the abusive behavior being subjected to the children. Joanna and Rosemary suspected abuse was going on but they didn’t have a lot of evidence of it until another family came forward with abuse claims and concerns, which resulted in a national inquiry and resulted in the school being shut down. However, every time James behaved “inappropriately” or “badly”, his hair was cut an inch, James was there about six months and ended up with a crew-cut. As a result, hair cuts are a little triggering for him.

Olivia: For Beth, it’s a little more complicated, it’s not so much cruelty towards her, it’s cruelty towards her sister Mary that stands out more, though she does have her own emotional scars. Beth had to deal with a lot of emotional and verbal abuse from her mother and some emotional neglect from both her parents. Beth’s dad is a police officer/detective and her mum is a nurse and a mid-wife, so two highly stressful jobs involving shift-work and then there’s the complication of Mary having Autism, which meant that Beth was often shunted to the side or forced to go along with things she didn’t want to do so that Mary could enjoy something and/or have a translator.

To me cruelty isn’t so much a once off event (though I do recognize it can happen), I tend to think of trauma or cruelty as small bits and pieces that add up over time.

What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?
James: James doesn’t do well with kindness, he’s a bit like a hedgehog in that regard, so he’s always suspicious of kindness. In fact it becomes a sort of conflict point for him and Beth (sort of like “I’m just being nice!” “Yes, that’s the problem, I don’t need your pity!”). But James and Mary develop a good friendship via social media and Skype and that helps James to understand Beth better (it also helps Mary as well).

Beth: Well a big moment of kindness was for her Aunt Charlotte to take in Beth after Claire and Beth had a massive fight (which resulted in Claire physically abusing Beth) and Beth chose to leave the house and alternate between youth centers and homeless shelters. Aunt Charlotte wasn’t given the full story, she was simply told Beth had run away after a fight with her mother, she didn’t realise how bad the situation was at home (otherwise she would have intervened sooner). This caused problems with Claire and Charlotte, but there were problems in their relationship before, the problems with Beth brought it to the foreground.

Another moment was when Beth was homeless and a social worker took interest in her and helped her a lot, Beth was seriously thinking of becoming a social worker rather than a teacher, however the occupational hazards and conditions of social working turned her off the profession and more towards education.

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
James: Negatively, Lavender scented objects, the nurse that was abusive towards him at the special needs school smelt strongly of it, which results in the smell of lavender being triggering for him.

Positively, it would be the first time he and Justine went to Paris Disneyland for a special event (I think it’s a joint birthday, as their birthdays are close together), James and Justine haven’t been able to go to Disneyland recently due to financial hardships, but James always enjoys going there.

Olivia: Not sure if it’s positive or negative, but Beth as prominent memories of waiting for her dad to come home. Beth and Mary would often sleep in the living room in their own pillow-fort rather in their beds so they could watch and wait for their father to come home. She also has a strong memory of Mary’s accomplishments, so that whenever Mary’s feeling depressed or frustrated, Beth is able to help her or give her a different perspective on the situation.

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?
James: For James, I think it’s more a problem of Joanna not being to understand (and therefore handle) James’s Asperger tendencies, so I think Joanna (and James) would benefit from reading Look Me In The Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison

Olivia: Beth is already a big reader so probably Travel books about the UK or a History of Scotland books (which Rosemary and James will be providing, in fact I intend to write a humorous scene with Rosemary doing a power-point presentation to Beth on Scotland and Glasgow)

Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?
James: James has had a couple of serious injuries, like a bad shoulder dislocation, via Karate (it’s one of the reasons why he got into Tai Chi as well). However, over the course of the novel, James gets badly injured, he’s shot twice (non-lethal but he loses a lot of blood), Joanna and Beth get into a fight about the situation, Beth ends up feeling super guilty about James, she moves out and attempts to stay at the nearby youth hostel, however Justine steps in and intervenes.

Beth: Beth hasn’t been seriously injured before, but over the course of the novel, she’ll end up with a very serious looking facial injury/bruising and James will feel super guilty about it because he thinks it’s his fault it happened, that he should have protected her better (which is totally not true, it’s not James’s fault at all)

Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
James: Not really, in fact he’s super paranoid about that and gets into arguments about their lawns and recycling practices

Beth: She gets along fine with her neighbors, she tends to keep to herself mostly, however during the novel she tries to help James with his neighbor problems.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?
James: I would consider James to be a 6.5 or a 7 (depending on the situation), he has a rigid schedule and routine he follows and enforces but the system does work.

Beth: I would consider Beth a 3, Beth tends to be focused on her job/studies and is mostly a homebody, also a lot of the conflict and humor arises from Beth finding loop-holes in James’s contracts and routines just because she can.

If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
James: James doesn’t really like traveling, however he does enjoy visiting Glasgow (to see his grandmother’s half of the family) for short periods and he does enjoy going to Paris to visit Disneyland (he’s not a big fan of anything else)

Beth: Currently is visiting the UK, but she would love to visit Edinburgh and Paris respectively.

Who was the last person they held hands with?
James: James tends to be physically affectionate with people he’s close to like Rosemary and his siblings when they were young, but it’s not something he does naturally, it’s something he has to put effort into. In a romantic relationship he tends to be an overly affectionate person (perhaps even clingy).

Beth: Beth isn’t very physically affectionate, also because she’s an Auslan interpreter, it’s generally considered a very intimate act to hold or touch a person’s hands. However the person Beth is most likely to hold hands with is her sister Mary (who tends to be very physically expressive and is affectionate)

Links:
~Paper Fury: The Beautiful People #17

~Further Up and Further In: April Edition

6 comments

  1. Omg every time I hear more about this book I AM IN AWE OF IT. IT SOUNDS SO VERY AMAZING. (And you’re publishing it soon?! Yayy. Congrats and good luck!!) I love James already and omg his childhood makes me very very sad. (Also Look Me In the Eye is SUCH a good book right?!? Definitely one of the best memoirs on Autism I’ve ever read!!)
    This was so much awesome to read and I enjoyed getting a deeper glimpse of your darlings. THANKS FOR JOINING IN! 😀

    • That’s okay, to be honest, I do relate more to James than I do Olivia, I too am a little suspicious of kindness in a Hedgehog like fashion. Though I must confess that I find Hedgehogs adorable 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and commenting 🙂

  2. Wow you have these character so super developed, like I really get the feeling that you’re intimately familiar with all the things that make them tick. I feel badly for the negative school experiences that James is having. I keep meaning to read Look Me In The Eye, especially after just getting a peek into his experiences from Augusten Burroughs books.

    • Thank you, you’ve hit the nail on the head, I know them well inside my head, outside my head on paper, may be a different matter, but I’ll get there. It’s funny you should mention Augusten Burroughs, because when I finished reading Look Me In The Eye, I really wanted to read Running With Scissors (so I could get another POV on the situation). I highly recommend Look Me In The Eye, definitely go check it out. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, I really appreciate it 🙂

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