Today, enjoy a guest piece by author Maryrose Wood, but check back tomorrow for my rundown on the latest in the Incorrigibles’ adventurous saga!
“It is easier to change one’s boots than to change one’s mind, but it is far easier to change one’s mind about whether or not to wear boots than it is to change the weather.” —The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 3: The Unseen Guest
Since the publication of The Mysterious Howling, the first title in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, I’ve been asked many times about the origins of the sayings of Agatha Swanburne, which pop up frequently in the series. Did I find them in a dusty old tome in some attic somewhere? Was (or is) there an Agatha Swanburne figure in my own life? Do I spend a lot of time eating fortune cookies in hopes of finding pithy nuggets of wisdom to steal?
If only it were that simple. The above-quoted “Swanburnism,” as I’ve come to think of them, was written the way all the rest of them are: our heroine, Miss Penelope Lumley, gets in some sort of predicament, and I, her author, push my chair back from the desk, scratch my head and think, hmm! What specific advice does my plucky young friend need to get out of this jam? It’s the fiction writing process in miniature: we chase our characters up a tree, set a bunch of hungry lions loose around the bottom, and then try to figure out what happens next.
The Swanburnism above is from the first chapter of The Unseen Guest (in stores March 27th). In the scene, Penelope has rather impulsively made a rule, which turns out not to work quite as well as she had hoped. Should she stick to her guns regardless, to avoid looking foolish? Add a slew of new rules to mitigate the untended consequences of the first one? Or should she admit her mistake, learn from it, and start over?
Naturally, she relies on the wisdom of Agatha Swanburne to help her figure out what to do. The adage she recalls is meant to capture the complex nature of making decisions in changing circumstances. One might have many excellent reasons to wear shoes instead of boots, but if it starts to rain, it’s time to rethink your decision—and your footwear. With the help of Agatha Swanburne’s advice, Penelope does exactly that. She scuttles her original plan, sets a new course and leads her young charges into a fresh adventure.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation like Penelope’s? If so, how did you handle it?
(On March 21, the Incorrigible blog tour continues with another Swanburnism discussed, this time at www.readnowsleeplater.com. Please drop by and leave a comment.)
Maryrose Wood is the author of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series for middle-grade readers. You can find her online at www.maryrosewood.com, and on Twitter at @Maryrose_Wood.