I’m beginning to edit my novel ‘The Double Act’ which I hope will be published at the end of the year, or the very beginning of the New Year. It is set in my imaginary seaside town of Easthope and it is unusual for me, in that it is about a group of friends who have been together since their school days. There are ten of them, but it is the six women who are the main characters.
Genet has been married to Lance since she was eighteen; her parents died when she was a child and she was brought up by her aunty along with her cousin Lyndsey. Genet is particularly close to Toni who is married to Gray (Graham) and to Chrissie who was married to another friend Alex but is now divorced. Within their circle is Monique Sands, who is long-time divorced and has a string of different boyfriends. Rina is the sixth member of the group who is married to another school friend, Keith.
This was the first novel I wrote which has so many characters and I was very conscious as I was writing that it is easy for the reader to become muddled, so I worked hard to make sure the friends were distinguished not only in their looks but in their personalities:
One drunken night the five women had played truth games. Monique was voted the most outrageous, Rina the most secretive, Chrissie the most fun, Toni the most reliable, Lyndsey the most innocent and Genet – Genet was the nicest.
Although Lance is a lecturer in drama at the local college, he and Genet have a hotel. She has pale skin and masses of red hair and grey eyes; she feels as if she is less important than her friends who all went on to further education and several went to University too. her personality becomes stronger through the book and by the end she is a strong and confident woman, which she needs to be because she faces extreme danger! It was quite tricky to show Genet’s development as the book progressed, from being quiet and unassuming, to being brave and strong.
Lyndsey her cousin also changes, and it was vital that the change should be believable because it is quite extreme; it is partly caused by another character’s influence, but I hope I have made it more realistic by showing that the way the others treated Lyndsey, not realising that their teasing was sometimes unkind, contributed to the way her character develops. Lyndsey is very tall, nearly six foot, with huge feet and she is gauche and awkward, easily embarrassed and extremely timid.
Lyndsey, big and dark, was permanently in a state of embarrassment, and now glowed even more hotly than usual.
“So what’s your idea of sin, Lyndsey? Saying boo to a goose?” Monique was cruel but they all laughed.
Everyone needs a friend like Chrissie; utterly reliable, loving, kind, funny, clever, generous – a lovely, lovely person, as is her mother, Pauline. Chrissie is tall and slim with long auburn hair, and a lovely face, a ready smile, high cheekbones and sparkling eyes. Chrissie has a bookshop in Easthope, and she lives in the flat above with her son, George. Toni who is a health visitor is similar to Chrissie, but she too changes… and again I hope that I have made the change plausible. She is fairly small, with dark hair and a warm friendly smile. Toni has four children, including twins, but manages them all perfectly! I once knew someone like Toni, she juggled a job, several children, child-minding, helping elderly neighbours, looking after and walking the dog, baked wonderful cakes and biscuits and buns, and yet still seemed to have time for her friends.
Monique works at the University in the Coastal and Oceanic Hydrographic Department and although her character is not based on anyone I know, not even loosely, she is a type of woman I have observed. Intelligent, competitive, works hard, plays hard, drinks hard and is always on the look-out for the next man. She is tall and slim with a boyish figure, and has her black hair cropped short with interesting highlights. Some people might find her quite scary, but her friends have known her since they were at infants school together!
In many ways Rina seems like Genet; she is quiet and unassuming but struggles with her boring life, her boring husband and her boring job; she is put under more stress as her hours are being cut and her husband is about to lose his job. They have a young son, Harrison, the same age as Chrissie’s George. Rina is smaller than Chrissie but has similar looks except she is darker with an olive skin and very brown eyes.
The events which happen during the narrative, change the women and their relationship with each other; however, I can imagine that if we could see them years after the conclusion, they would still be friends.