What's the neatest or messiest character you have ever created, what book did they appear in, and why did you make that creative decision?
In my book The Blacksmith's Bravery (coming from Barbour in December), Griffin Bane is a victim of the scrubbing bandit. He lives in one small room behind his blacksmith shop. It's jammed full of stuff and very messy. When his nephew comes to live with him, he's too embarrassed and overwhelmed to let the boy see his living quarters, so he boards him at the rooming house across the street.
Here is a scene from The Blacksmith's Bravery:
So far, Griff had managed to avoid taking the boy into his private quarters. Sometime he’d get around to redding up the place, and then Justin could see it. Not until.
He shoved the door open and held the lantern high. And stopped in his tracks.
“What—” His heart lurched. Had he been robbed? The place looked almost bare. The floor between where he stood and his bunk was clear. And his bunk! The covers were smooth and. . .not his covers. A quilt he’d never seen before lay over the mattress, and his pillow actually had a linen cover on it. That was odd. When did thieves leave things behind?
Justin touched his arm. “Uncle Griff? Something wrong?”
“I’m not sure.” Griffin stepped into the room and swung the lantern around slowly. The room felt fairly warm, like someone had kept a fire in the stove today. His extra wool pants and dungarees, along with his two other shirts, hung from nails on the wall. All his boxes and kegs were neatly stacked, and the shelves, while crowded, had an orderly look. He could actually see the surface of the small plank table he’d lost sight of months ago, and sitting in the middle of that table were a covered basket and a green bottle holding a cluster of dried weeds and red berries. It was kind of pretty.
“This place isn’t so bad,” Justin said. “I thought you said it wasn’t fit to live in.”
“Well, I. . .” Griffin swallowed hard. He didn’t know who’d done this, but his initial shock had faded. Now anger vied with gratitude in his heart. Insight flashed in his brain, like the sparks that flew from his hammer when he struck white-hot iron. He could get mad at the scrubbing bandit, or he could accept an anonymous friend’s act with humility. The first course would be easiest. But someone had cared about him enough to spend a lot of effort making his place nicer. And he had a feeling it wasn’t done for Griffin Bane alone.
He whipped around and eyed Justin suspiciously. Had the boy complained to someone that his uncle had farmed him out to the boardinghouse? Had he told other people the room behind the smithy was too filthy to take a boy into?
“You, uh, didn’t say anything to anyone about not liking the Fennel House, did you?”
Justin shrugged. “Don’t think so. Why would I? It’s not half bad.”
Griff nodded and looked around again. He strode to the table and lifted the napkin that covered the basket. Biscuits. And a jar of jam.
“Hmm, what?” Justin came over and looked down at the basket. “Say, those look mighty good. Did you make ’em?”
“Nope.” Griff laid the napkin back over the tempting biscuits. “I’d say we had company while we were out to the Chapmans’ ranch.”
“You mean someone brought you those biscuits while you were away?”
“No, someone brought us those biscuits.” Griffin thought he might know who. Vashti had known they’d be gone today. But how could she have done all this by herself and still made the stagecoach after lunch? He looked cautiously at Justin. “Do you think this place is too small for the both of us?”
Justin looked around. “Well. . .there’s only one bunk.”
“True. But I could build another one over the top.”
“You mean. . .” Justin cleared his throat. “You mean you’d want me to stay with you after all?”
“If you’d like that. But if you wouldn’t, you can stay over to the boarding—”
“Oh.” Griffin nodded slowly. “All right, then. Let’s go over and have supper, and I’ll tell Mrs. Thistle that tonight’s your last night with them. And tomorrow we’ll scare up some lumber and build another bunk. How does that sound?”
“Sounds good, Uncle Griff.”
Griffin smiled. “Great. And for breakfast we’ll have biscuits and jam.”
-Susan Page Davis
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