The Pruce is Right
The relationship you have with your characters can get pretty fraught at times. Granted, you create them and set them on a path. The thing is, over time, they have a habit of rebelling against your intentions. Especially when you’re putting them through a ghost story.
I’ve recently been challenged by Christine Ardron of the endlessly inventive Predgarians blog to have one of my characters answer some question for her. This is as part of something called The Sunshine Blogger Awards. Basically, one of my characters has to answer ten questions Christine has sent for them and then I need to choose some people to send ten questions of my own for their characters to answer. What can possibly go wrong?
The character I’ve chosen is the ill fated Wendell Pruce. Wendell appeared in my second novella ‘The Final Restoration of Wendell Pruce’ and I’ve always had a soft spot for him. He’s based on a certain breed of failed actor I used to see a lot around the pubs and streets of Stratford upon Avon when I was at college there. His story first came to me in an incredibly vivid nightmare and his final moments have always seemed particularly cruel to me.
I thought it would be best if I interviewed Mr Pruce at around midway through his story. He is currently hiding in the bedroom of his new home by the coast. He’s had a particularly rough day and downstairs he can hear the locals destroying his possessions whilst singing what appear to be hymns.
1. Are you content with the world around you or do you wish you could live in your author’s world?
Really? That’s your question? Look, I came here to get away from the stresses and strains of modern life and now, well, I don’t even know what this is. I came here to relax. To retire. I had plans. I had so many things I wanted to do and tonight…tonight, that knocking started at my window and you can hear them all down there now. They’re wrecking my home!
I don’t care where ‘my author’ lives, I’ll move there in a heartbeat. As long as it has decent views of the coast. And good wine. And theatre. Is there decent theatre where he lives?
2. If you weren’t being moved forwards by your author’s story, what do you think you’d be doing or spending your time?
You’re really not listening, are you? I know it’s noisy downstairs, but do try and pay attention. Like I said, I had plans. I came here to retire. To spend a few quality golden years growing old before I popped off. I was going to read and take part in local proceedings. Fairs, sales, whatnot. I was going to go for long walks. Lord alone knows I could stand to lose some weight. Not that I really want to. I like good food. I like red wine in vast quantities. Back in my glory days, I was known to smoke a cigar or two. Along with other things. If you know what I mean. It’s the doctors that tell you to cut down. They tell you to eat your five a day. Five a day. Sounds like an amateur football team to me. Still, what do I know?
If we’re being honest with each other, I wish I’d stayed where I was. City life was the life for me. Yes, it was tiring. Yes, it was noisy. Yes, the gossip never stopped. But I miss it now. Lord, how I miss it.
3. Do you like what your author intends for you or do you find it boring/frightening?
I would hate to meet the person who’d find this nightmare boring. I fell asleep downstairs, listening to music. I woke up to someone tapping on my window. Then they started hammering on my windows and now they’ve broken into my house and they’re…they’re taking everything. They’re ruining everything. My whole life is down there.
I didn’t do anything to deserve this either. I don’t even know anyone here well enough to inspire this sort of hatred. All I did was walk through a gate. My builders found a gate hidden in my hedge and they told me not to go through it. One of them actually came here, at night, to tell me not to go through it. Oh, the whole thing is just a mess!
4. If you could spend one chapter in someone else’s story, whose would it be?
Right now, I’d be tempted to take anyone’s life over this. Still, if given the choice, I’d have to go with Peter O’Toole. He must have an autobiography or a biography something. I’ll take a chapter from that, thank you very much. One of his younger chapters. The thin, upcoming star in the making. Still full of aspirations and hopes. And that voice. My word, that voice. I would kill for that voice and that presence he had onstage. That’ll do nicely.
5. Would you like to have your author in the same world as you?
Damn right I would! I have a bone to pick with him. No, sorry, scratch that. I have a lot of bones to pick with him. A LOT of bones. Never mind all of this ghoulish debacle. Let’s talk about the fact I can’t lose weight or that I have to lose weight in the first place. Or my relationship with my son. He could’ve made that a damn sight easier for me. Then there’s half of the vapid, vain idiots I’ve had to call friends for most of my life because of him. Not forgetting my own self loathing, of course. That drove me to make so many mistakes. I’d like to see him live like with it for a while. Also, I’d like to see him in this room, right now. Let him face those savages downstairs.
6. Do you consider your author a friend or more of a hindrance?
I’ve had a lot of bad friends in my life. A lot. They have used me. They have tossed me aside, so to speak. They have succeeded where I’ve failed and always made sure to rub my poor old face in it. But, for all the pain they’ve caused me, I would never consider my ‘author’ to even be in the same league as them. Hindrance is too kind a word for what he’s been to me. A blight seems more like it. A biblical ruddy plague.
7. Are you happy with the appearance your author has given you?
Let me put this way; is this a leading man’s face? No. No, it is not. I was made to play supporting parts, at best. I’ve rarely ever been fortunate enough to get top billing. I’ve never got to play The Dane. I didn’t get near Becket or Stoppard. Brecht once or twice, but that was about it. And always as something rather grotesque. Did you know, I was once rather cruelly described by a critic as a drag queen out of uniform? Every morning, when I look in the mirror, I feel something that is definitely not happiness. It will be same tomorrow…if I’m lucky. So, no, to answer your question. I am not happy with it. Not at all.
8. Is there someone in the story you’d like to do bad things to?
You hear that mob downstairs? We’ll start with them. We’ll definitely start with them. Then we’ll move onto that builder who didn’t warn me this would happen and left me to doubt his credibility. If builders have such a thing. After we’ve dealt with all of them we’ll move onto the ringleaders and anyone else who has a problem with me. I don’t care if it’s my ‘author’ or even you. I am tired of being a pushover. I am tired of being scared and I am tired of questioning myself.
9. Do you hope to appear in a sequel or are you looking forward to your story ending?
As a professional and as an artiste, I have never held with the idea of sequels. I did a play once, a rather witty little detective drama. I was lucky enough to play the villain. A rather heinous brigand. I heard later on that they were talking about bringing that character back, but it went against everything I stood for. If you tell a story, I believe you do it in one sitting. All these superhero movies. All these never ending TV shows. I think you tell your story and move on. It’s better to leave your public wanting more and it’s better not to rely on countless bloody sequels. That’s why the stage has always felt such a pure form to me. When it’s treated with the proper respect, of course.
All of that said, if a sequel means I get to go back to my friends and see my son again, then I will certainly appear in a sequel. I can’t…I mean, this can’t be the end. Whatever these lunatics are doing to my house, surely they can’t want to hurt me. This is just about scaring me away. I’m the outsider intruding on their territory. They have to let me go, don’t they?
10. What would you do to scare your author?
I would like to say I’d forgive them, but that’s not good enough. Not after this. No, after this, I want them to find a gate in their own hedge. Which is not a euphemism. I want them to feel like they’re constantly being followed. I want them to wake up to someone tapping on their window and hammering at their door. Let them live through a night like this. Then let’s see what they write about after that.
I’d like to thank Mr Pruce for taking the time to answer Christine’s brilliant questions as he awaited his fate. Now, to keep this ball of interviews rolling across the ever growing Blogosphere, I have selected three victims to pass this onto. They are:
Mark Nixon of Shadows at the Door
Kris Holt, who posts his Burning Man story not nearly often enough
And, drum roll,
The one and only Ann Wuehler; who’s blog is always open, honest and brilliantly, angrily crazy.
People, here are the questions I’m posing to your characters:
1. What do you like to read in your spare time and has it prepared you for living through your own story?
2. Do you think a character should be able to choose their own genre or do you think that would lead to chaos across the bookshelves?
3. If you had to write a story yourself, would it be in the same vein as the story you’re currently living through?
4. Do you think this story is sharing the greatest moment of your life?
5. If you were allowed to edit your story yourself would you cast yourself in the leading role or keep out of the limelight?
6. Would you ever want to know the full page count of your story?
7. Have any scenes been cut from your story that you want putting back in place?
8. If you could ever meet a reader in person would you ask for their review of your story?
9. Would you rather your story be light and entertaining or leave your readers with questions when it’s finished?
10. Are you happy for the problems in your life to be used as catharsis for your readers?
I look forward to reading their answers. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to apologise to Wendell. I think he may need a hug.