Today we welcome author Alison DeLuca.
Alison DeLuca is a writer of urban fantasy for young adults. She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain. As a teacher she taught every grade level in every kind of school district possible. She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.
The Creation of the Governess
by Alison DeLuca
My steampunk Crown Phoenix series is set in Edwardian England. One of the main characters, Mana, comes from an island country and has dark skin. This would be no big deal today, but in Edwardian England it would have been an interesting social situation, to say the least. Mana is one of my favorite characters that I ever created, and I hesitated over handling her place in English society.
I wanted her to be a real person, who had intelligence, beauty, and humor. I also wanted her to exist in a realistic society, although one that was filled with steampunk elements. Therefore, Mana had to face a level of prejudice that was abhorrent to write but necessary for the story. She had to overcome what would have been a natural attitude, sadly, at the time. It was a very difficult type of mental gymnastics: I wanted to create a sympathetic character that was strong in her own right and yet have her confront social morés and keep her dignity within a long, complicated plot.
As she developed a personality and characteristics, she started to win other characters over in the story. Her first conquest was the difficult, neglected daughter of a rich man, Miriam, who had become almost feral in disposition. Next were some of the servants in the house where Miriam and Mana lived, a very difficult thing to accomplish.
In The Night Watchman Express, Mana was viewed from the point of view of Miriam, the child, and that was a huge help to me as a writer. Children are prone to love easily, and as Miriam began to truly accept and respect Mana, her governess, the true character of the woman from the islands emerged. The girl admired Mana’s patience, neatness, and the way the governess never raised her voice and yet got people (Miriam included) to do what she asked.
It was a very delicate nuance to develop. I thoroughly enjoyed creating Mana, and I hope that one day you will invite her into your imagination as well.