Kitty Cobham & The Chamber of Secrets
by Karen Lee
You didn't really think I was done, did you?
My beta readers are Mags and Madeline5, who some of you know from the A&E Boards, and a gal not known to you who is a fine and funny JA fan fic writer in her own right, Teresa AF. The gals made great suggestions, and were very good barometers for when the cheese factor in the first drafts got to be excessive, as was often the case.
My friends from the A&E Cast Board, Ginger, SallyB, and PJ, were wonderful at nagging me to write more. I thank them, too.
I've learned a lot through trying to write this story. I never dreamed it would be so long in the telling.
This was my first attempt to write a fiction of some length which was not in First Person POV. I decided to try a very close restricted third person POV and limit it to three main characters, switching between them. It was tempting to bring in Archie, Horatio, the servants, maybe even the folks back at Gibraltar discussing what might have happened to the dispatches, but I wanted to keep it with the three main protagonists. Although I didn't get comfortable with it until about halfway through the writing, I think that worked well. I think that kept the characters mysteries and motivations mysterious to each other, while gradually revealing them to the readers. I liked that way of telling a story of this type. It worked for me, and I hope it worked for you. I knew my basic plot for weeks before I started to write, but I wasn't able to get started until I had decided the question of POV. I hope it was never confusing, and that you always knew whose head you were in.
The plot was potboiler silly, but that wasn't the point. I started off thinking I would write something rather steeped in the politics of the time, but it became clear to me early on that many of my readers were annoyed by too much plot and that they mostly wanted a big sex scene and lots of descriptions of DeVergesse naked. So much for the Beta-concept! ;) But I was determined to inflict a certain amount of plot so I could practice writing a complete story. Archie and Edrington was fun and charming in spots, I guess, but the beginning and the end didn't really match up or have all that much to do with each other. I wanted something more structurally-coherent this time.
It is a fact that the identity of the sitter of DaVinci's greatest portrait remains one of the great mysteries in art. But like DeVergesse, we have finally decided that we prefer it that way. I chose that painting because I felt it symbolized the whole dilemma of Ms. Cobham, whose fortunes rode on who knew her true name and who did not. Identity.
And in truth, DeVergesse himself, as played by Jean-Yves Berteloot, has the same subtle indentation in the corner of his mouth on one side that the Mona Lisa has.
I do apologize for the length, but it turns out that DeVergesse,
like Major Edrington, was a deliciously slippery and complicated
male character and it was more pleasure to me to let his character
unfold at quite a leisurely pace. These are all somewhat morally
ambiguous characters, but that, IMO, is part of their interest.
They are survivors in a world and society which is undergoing
rapid change. Anyone who was particularly rigid didn't fare very
well in Revolutionary France. You had to be a bit of an eel, like
DeVergesse, to thrive. But I love him all the same. It was hard to let him go and end his story.
Thanks so much to SarahB and my friends on the HHFIC list for
giving me this place to practice my writing. I hope you were entertained.
I loved writing Kitty Cobham & The Chamber of Secrets. It
was a blast.
Love ya', J-YB!