What Becomes of the Children of the Storm?

Now that I’ve finished my novel “Children of the Storm”, what next for these characters? Gunston Roadhouse, the child of Georgia Roadhouse and her spectral protector Ephraim Gunston, will be growing up on his mother’s liveaboard sailboat in Japan, which honestly sounds kinda awesome; I often wish I could have grown up on a boat in some exotic and fascinating place!

He’ll be running around in his little kimono as Georgia spends her twenties and thirties being a good mother to him and immersing herself in her bookish pursuits focused on Western antiquities and Japanese culture. Baby Gunston bears a striking resemblance to the father, whose painting from Georgia’s near-death experience (when she first met him in a vision) is prominently displayed on their boat just like it was in her house in the Shenandoah (when she still lived there). He’ll bear an even more striking resemblance by the time he gets into his teenage years, because his hair will develop a snow-white “skunk streak” at an exceptionally early age, perhaps telegraphing that something is different or off about him or his origins. Or maybe not; after all, Patrick Stewart’s hair largely fell off and turned white before he was even 20…

Anyway, my original idea for Gunston was for him to somehow win the heart of Aoife’s and Aoifan’s daughter Marina, who is their only child and grows up on the paradisaical beaches of southern California as essentially the ultimate girl and ultimate woman ever, combining the best traits of the whole family tree in one blonde-haired blue-eyed fair-skinned vision. But as a sole heiress to a billionaire diamond fortune and an ethnic Russian surfer girl, among other things, she just doesn’t seem to be a good match for our Gunston, much as the prospect of closing up the two family trees might look nice on paper.

This Marina character would be dreamy, but I’m not really sure what to do with her as far as a story goes. She’s like Galatea before the gods brought her to life, I suppose…

No, my latest thinking for Gunston is that he needs a sweetheart, a special someone, but she should be a whole new character, one that embodies the global and international vibes of the setting and should be ever-so-slightly enchanted, much like himself.

Complementary to his own personality might be a girl who’s really fun and bubbly; since he’s growing up in Japan a Japanese or at least East Asian girl might be an obvious choice, but in my mind’s eye he’s just not the type of white boy to go that way. On the flip side, however, him falling for a pure white girl while in Japan just seems flat and boring. So, I had an inspiration, why not split the difference by introducing a girl of mixed heritage?

In particular I’m thinking that she might have an exotic and effervescent vibe reminiscent of Latin Americans, while having an entirely different series of ancestries from what would be typical of that region. Partial Japanese descent would be an obvious building block, and I’ve honestly decided to make her of partial Dutch descent as well. Her personal name will be Japanese, but her surname will be Dutch. Which brings us to the enchanted aspect; I’m leaning toward making the surname “van der Decken”, which sounds like nothing special…until you realize in some of the original legends it was the name of the captain of the Flying Dutchman (see here). Maybe she’s a spectral offspring too…

The Dutch have been active in the region as seafaring merchant types for a very long time, which implies her heritage might stretch back centuries. Indeed, she could be descended from a wider variety of nationalities than just Japanese and Dutch, from all over the world, but no doubt predominately European and East Asian, though Indian, Middle Eastern, perhaps even East African ancestry not being able to be ruled out at this stage.

Another more specific aspect I might like to incorporate for this character would be Venetian heritage. Remember: seafaring merchant types. This also serves to give her a bit of Italian flair, perhaps with her really getting into that part of her heritage. Largely because I might like to explore what’s become of Venice and its people in such a story, having recently been there and been quite captivated by all the possibilities.

One of which might be Venice becoming something of a fashion capital. As it is the reality is rather disappointing, with how the rather more grim Milan is the center of Italian fashion, whereas hundred-times-cooler Venice is sitting right next door. In the more developed and advanced economy of my setting, the fashion and cosmetics industry is far larger, to the point it largely drives Europe’s entire economy, and it’s well possible that given the greater levels of mobility that fashion designers and so forth might want to locate in “cooler” places. La Serenissima may yet rise again…

Of course space is very limited in the old city of Venice in real life, the place being all of two miles wide. The old town is historical, so appetite to expand upward would no doubt be limited. But there’s no shortage of outlying islands and even-more-outlying barrier islands that could be built up in the exact same style as the historic center, canals and all.

Such measures might even be necessary to diffuse the crowds who wish to come to the city; they’re not exactly hard to avoid now (on a sunny afternoon in May I had large parts of the Arsenal area all to myself…), but in my timeline, where transportation is cheap and the vast majority of the population have no need to work jobs anymore, there could easily be a hundred times as many tourists wandering the world at any given time…maybe more.

Spectacular showpieces and monuments of modern vintage and traditional style might be worked in to the new City of Fashion that will spread throughout the Lagoon; after all, something has to lure tourists away from the older stuff. And it would serve to drive up traffic, boost the local economy, blah blah blah.

Venice is given a boost because frankly it’s one of my favorite cities, and certainly about my favorite city in Italy. Venice even looms in the concept for a follow-up story to “Children of the Storm” that I had before I vacationed over here in Europe, because the Kovačevič triplets will have a home there on one of those canals (perhaps also functioning as a hotel for guests), where their large number of children will be brought up, along with their penthouse in Nashville, Tennessee as well as in the far closer environs of the Slovenian Alps…where family friend (and older cousin of Georgia) Decca Roadhouse has her little winery.

Decca, for her part, will have well and truly entered her slut era…in her mid-forties onwards, often spending her days with a young man’s member in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. Indeed, both her and cousin Georgia are usually drinking out of a wine bottle at any one time, which has honestly gotten me wondering why, in the story, they’re not a lot more drunk all the time than they actually are. Perhaps the two wine connoisseurs have just developed that much of a tolerance for it? Maybe there’s less alcohol content in the wines they drink than one might assume at first glance? Or maybe, as they joke on a beach scene in California in “Children of the Storm”, they really are drinking themselves into an early grave by destroying their livers? I looked it up and the quantity of alcohol they’re probably drinking actually would be enough to do the trick. So maybe auntie Decca should live it up while she can…

She’s 46 when Gunston is born, so if we say he’s 16 when he meets his dreamie girlie, that would put auntie Decca at 62, which is starting to get a bit on up there. Decca and Georgia are even on the record as not wanting to live too long, owing to how nobody in the family had all that good a time with aging (Decca’s father, in fact, committed suicide rather than succumb to the ravages of Lewy-body dementia; albeit that only happened in his seventies). The rest of the family who still survive as of “Children of the Storm” are likely all deceased by the time Gunston would be 16, leaving just Decca and Georgia around, so it might be interesting to see what becomes of that huge ancient-Egyptian-themed house in Abingdon, Virginia both of them grew up in (a house that, by the way, houses all their remains in the form of a mausoleum right there in the living room; yes, I know it’s weird).

Georgia is 21 when Gunston is born, so when he’s 16 she’ll be 37, not a bad age for a girl to be, especially a mother of a teenager. She drinks relatively heavily but not enough for the damage to show up except in old age, so she should be fine. What exactly she’ll be doing with herself in all this time I’m not sure. Georgia never really had much of an occupation as a youth, and in her twenties she just focused on mothering Gunston…even if she did also write a novel and discover the Crimean Gothic equivalent of the Rosetta Stone, courtesy of visions from her ghostly lover.

Her interest in Japanese culture might inspire her to become a master at some kind of physical-cum-spiritual discipline that’s native to the area…she might become a designer of some sort, perhaps for apparel or homes (which might make Venetian connections more natural, considering it’s a fashion and style center and her friends the Kovačevič triplets are already there…)…or she might make like Luthen from “Star Wars: Andor” and turn her liveaboard boat over into an antiquities shop. Or even all of the above. Georgia’s not rich but she doesn’t particularly need or want more money (or a job), so if she just wants to do it all as a hobby it would work out just fine. All very bohemian, even bourgeois, but honestly it sounds rather nice. It might make for a pleasant backdrop for a story.

A story in which the locations might take a more central role. At the end of “Children of the Storm” Georgia is in a harbor of an unspecified city in southern Japan where all the architecture is in the traditional wooden style but it’s scaled up to skyscraper-like proportions, hewn right out of the slope of the landscape, sky lanterns rising before an urban forest thick with trees stretching all the way up the mountains. Given that she’s in a boat, the interface between land and sea in a world where cities are built as monuments and used as business and pleasure more so than as permanent residences might be a fascinating aspect to put front and center.

The futuristic version of Venice is interesting enough in this respect, but if we’re going to Italy I might try to work in the south of the country, which is frankly in a distressing condition and has been for a very long time. As someone who is of southern Italian descent myself, and an aficionado of alternate histories where the underdogs get a bit of a leg up, why not change that?

Much of the Mezziogiorno is a rather grim place aesthetically, largely for ecological reasons, since the forests were cut down and the landscape destroyed by the end of the Roman era; dry, dusty, and ugly is the dominant theme, with even the wind and surf of the sea providing surprisingly little relief, seeing as the Mediterranean, for all its saltiness and connectivity, is very much not the open ocean (oh, how I’ve wished I was back on Pacific Coast Highway during my trip over here…).

Amusingly enough my own ancestors’ homeland of Calabria provides the greatest exception, along with Basilicata; for whatever reason the forests in Calabria’s upper reaches are still largely intact, and the place forms a narrow mountainous peninsula that offers far more spectacular landscapes than what you’ll see elsewhere in southern Italy. Indeed, the entire landscape is strikingly reminiscent of southern California’s. The fact it’s out on a peninsula surrounded by three sides by water helps to catch more of a breeze, and the climate is warm and maritime, more so than anywhere else in mainland Italy.

There’s a rich historical heritage to be found as well; Reggio is one of the oldest cities in the entire region, among the first Greek colonies in Italy, and even today is a rather nice place to visit, despite being in an area so impoverished its GDP numbers wouldn’t look out of place in the third world. Fun fact: Reggio has been known by a variety of names throughout its history, the Norman name being “Risa”. Risa as in the planet Risa from “Star Trek”? Hmm…considering they’re both warm and beachy places, and how Star Trek’s whole appeal is basically “an entire galaxy that’s just like the swanky parts of coastal California” and how Calabria looks a lot like California, one can’t help but wonder…

The thought occurs to me that Calabria in general and Reggio in particular could become a hub of high-tech industry in my timeline. How exactly that would transpire or what sort of technology they’d be into I have no idea. But it would be a fascinating old-world analogue to this timeline’s juggernaut of Los Angeles and California’s south coast (instead of “Silicon Valley” at Stanford this world got “Silicon Beach” at Caltech). How exactly this area could even be competitive I’m not sure, since there’s not too much infrastructure, not much of an intellectual or technical center that I know of, and there doesn’t seem to be too much motivation to build out much of anything.

But one never knows. Calabria is near the center of the Mediterranean, and in a world where a lot more people are recreational yachter types that might resume more relevance; for a particular stripe of elite it might be a convenient location, and the natural beauty and even the culture might attract them. It probably also helps that the place doesn’t exactly have a huge population, so it wouldn’t take the equivalent of a Silicon Valley-sized economic engine to make the place glitzy and rich. I’ll have to think about that one…

Another thing to think about is that Gunston is born in 2046 in this timeline, and when he’s 16 the year will be 2062. The manned expedition to Proxima Centauri and its ever-fascinating planet Thalassa arrives in 2060, and makes first contact with an alien intelligence then, transmitting their findings back to Earth, messages which will arrive in 2064 and no doubt will electrify all mankind. The reaction alone would be a fascinating angle to work into the story.

It’s not really come together yet, but I think I’ve got enough material here to make yet another sequel out of. Yes, I have a hunch “Children of the Storm” won’t be the last we’ll see of Decca, Georgia, and company…

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