I have the utter joy of having Andy Sagar, author of Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup, on my blog today. That book absolutely filled me with so much joy and it’s an absolute honour to be on the blog tour today. Andy has popped along and written a wonderful post all about his character
Yesterday Crumb is no ordinary girl. She was born with fox ears that have cursed her to a lonely life working in the circus and her origins are a complete mystery. But she is about to escape into the adventure of a lifetime when she learns that she’s a strangeling who’s lost her magic.
Taken in by Miss Dumpling the flamboyant tea witch, Yesterday is introduced to a magical, walking teashop filled with fantastical customers, a flying teapot turtle called Pascal and powerful spells in every teacup! Yesterday starts to rediscover her magic and to feel a sense of belonging. But a mysterious figure of darkness is working hard to ensure her new life comes crashing down – and it all starts with a deadly shard of ice in Yesterday’s heart…
But there’s nothing that can’t be solved with a pot of tea, a slice of cake and a BIG dash of magic!
“Humbly and Gorgeously at Your Service”: Developing the Character of Miss Dumpling
When it comes to writing stories, one of the most important things to consider is your cast of characters. For me, inventing characters and building up their relationships with one another is maybe one of the most fun parts of the whole process. In this post, I would like to tell the story of how I came up with one character in particular in my debut book Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup.
The story of Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup follows a girl with the improbable name of Yesterday, who gets a job as a tea witch’s apprentice in a magical, walking teashop. The tea witch in question is named Miss Dumpling. She is rarely found in anything other than pink. She loves tea, magic, and drama. But most importantly, Miss Dumpling has never met a soul she didn’t believe deserved compassion, understanding, and maybe a slice of cake or two. This is the tale of how she came into being!
Many, many years ago, the idea of a witch with both infinite kindness and a penchant for theatrics popped into my mind. Her manner of speaking was there from day one, as if she were a real person with a real voice that I was simply channelling, rather than a character that I had developed from scratch. Indeed, she was completely and utterly fully formed from the first day I ‘met’ her.
The only trouble was, I didn’t have a story for her.
Not yet, at least.
Every time I started writing a new story, Miss Dumpling would poke her head around the corner and ask when I was going to get around to her bit in the tale. I would fabricate all sorts of reasons for her to be there: even down-to-earth stories about non-magical people, for example, would inexplicably see the characters going to a bakery run by a lady with suspiciously marvellous tea and cakes for sale. It was getting quite ridiculous. I knew Miss Dumpling needed a tale where she truly and perfectly fit. But the right tale hadn’t come along yet.
That was until the day I had the idea for a magical teashop, while sitting in an ordinary teashop (though, in truth, even the most ‘ordinary’ of teashops still have a little enchantment in them. I suspect it has something to do with the scent of cinnamon). I knew such a teashop would have to be run by a witch of some sort. After all, who else would be making the teapots fly? Who would be filling people’s teacups with charms and spells? A witch, that’s who.
Usually, when it comes to creating characters, I like to audition lots of potentials for the role. But in this case, Miss Dumpling barged right to the front. This was going to be her story, at last, and there was simply nothing I could do about it.
The next step, however, was figuring out what she would actually do in the story. Children’s stories are brimming with mentor characters. However, so often the mentor is a very old fellow with a considerable beard. I thought, what fun it would be to have the mentor played by a vivacious, flamboyant witch with a zest for life, rather than a measured wizard who has only recently descended from his high tower for the first time in years. (Nothing against such wizards, of course, but this simply wasn’t the tale for one).
So it was that my main character (whose name wasn’t yet etched in stone) had her mentor: Miss Dumpling, the fanciful witch. Once I gave her the job of tea witch, as opposed to standard witch, she was unstoppable. I barely had to do any work. Miss Dumpling was spouting catchphrases without abandon. Overall, then, while I do love every character in Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup, I will always have a special fondness for Miss Dumpling, who has been with me all these years, just waiting for her time to shine. And now that she is stepping out of my head and into the world, I hope!
A massive thanks to Andy and to the publishers for having me on this blog tour! I ADORED Yesterday and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next for her!
Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup is out TOMORROW. I honestly think you’re all going to love this!! Remember to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!