The Red Book focuses on the lives of ten individuals (Miranda, Mitchell, Clint, Elizabeth, Robin, Simon, Sam, Susie, David and Jake) living in (or originally from) the same Northern American University town. They all began life as secondary characters created by another author (except Miranda – given someone had to start the chain) and as such, belong to a much larger cast of characters who exist in the periphery of the main narrative arcs, on the fringes of the lives of the ten main characters.
Each author had their reason for choosing the character they pulled from the side and put centre stage. You can read some of the reasons in the blog posts running at the Chinese Whisperings site this week.
What if I had my time again? Looking at the ensemble of characters – who would I chose to follow? Detective McNally, the police officer investigating the attack of Dr Mitchell Slovosky in Jason Coggin’s Something Mean in the Dream Scene, or Ronnie – Sam’s girlfriend in Jasmine Gallant’s Not Myself. What about Caleb Jones, the dead cleaner in Emma Newman’s Heartache.
No. If I could, I’d take up the siren call of the malevolent entity we christened ‘The CW Fairy’.
We’re introduced to her in Something Mean in the Dream Scene (though she’s a ‘presence’ – never specifically referred to as a ‘she’ by Mitchell) and a version of her is recognised by McNally on the front cover of a book in Slovosky’s office. She appears in Annie Evett’s Kraepelin’s Child as a pissed of female entity which only Brandon can see and is perhaps the ghost of Miranda which Clint sees lingering by the fence in the back alley at the end of the story. She returns as the beligerent entity in Paul Anderson’s One in the Chamber, possessing Kate and badgering P.I. Jake into the darkest recesses of his mind.
What I realised about The CW Fairy, is she attaches herself to men who are on the run. If you think I’m nuts, she actually comes out and accuses Jake of running away!
“She said you’d turn away. Even if you felt her, you wouldn’t believe me, you’d run away. You always do.” (Page 109)
Mitchell, in a way, is escaping his feelings – running from something so deep in his past he doesn’t remember why he’s numb (and no, I don’t believe its just the sleep paralysis robbing of him of his ability to experience and express his true emotions), Jake from his secret past and it is any one’s guess what Brandon and Clint are running from, one in his quest to stay perpetually high and the other for notoriety through violence. We never see what McNally might be on the run from – but as a police officer you could probably take a pick from several dozen gruesome things.
As such I wonder if she is also lingering on the periphery of the stories of Sam (on the run from his past and specifically people smugglers), Robin (on the run from a crime he lied about and the man who covered his lie), Simon (who is briefly avoiding facing up to remembering what made him stop sleeping int he first place) and David who is literarally escaping his old life.
I’d love to look behind these men’s lives through the eyes of the CW fairy and find what is actually there – especially those characters we only catch glimpses of, like McNally.And why she choses one man over another!
I always thought The Red Book was about staying sane in insane places – but looking at it through other eyes, I see characters all trying to escape from something (male and femal). Perhaps that is one of the factors which defines staying sane when the rest of the world goes to shit. Just trying to get the hell out of Dodge.
But at the end of the day, I’m more fascinated with who the CW Fairy originally was. Created out of the aether, or someone trapped in this state… feeding from these men. I have no idea. She still taunts from the outer reaches of comprehension with brief insights and nothing more.
Enough from me though. I tag Dale Challener Roe, author of Not Myself and ask him, who on the sidelines interests him? Given the chance to write now, who would he write? You can read his response: If I Had To It To Do Over Again.