Thursday, 10 April 2014
Having finished one children’s manuscript it is now time to plan another. For Toby Farrier I used a bus to get my story started. In this case I’ll use the food court of a shopping centre. I’ll pretend to conduct interviews with likely characters and cast them into the plot.
This story will be a crime mystery and the protagonist I need is a girl who is about fourteen. I am working on a few names but I like, Peaches Pengelly. Frumpy in her appearance and shy, even with the people she knows. Peaches is invisible. She is awkward around boys. Now I need a title, and a plot.
I read Elizabeth George’s book about writing recently and became captured by the method she uses to develop her characters. Subscribing to often quoted phrase that character builds plot, I will construct a setting in which I meet and interview Peaches for the role.
I like my character’s name now having typed and said it aloud a few times, so stay tuned as I develop her story. I am not big into fantasy or historical sagas, so in the planning stage the story will be contemporary and set in an industrial city ravaged by crime.
The things I need in the plot:
· A crime/murder/kidnapping or all of them that only Peaches can solve.
· A sidekick every hero needs a sidekick and this one should be reluctant. Possibly a boy with issues.
· An arch enemy or apocalyptic event. Either will work for me.
· Her superpowers come from her ability to think and problem solve.
Well there is a start.
I will begin my character interviews in the food court of a shopping centre near you soon.
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Toby Farrier and the Gypsy's Curse
Towards the end of the story I found I needed to know who my villains were. They had to be wealthy with a past that was hidden from the public. Evil had to visit them and colour their judgement through the generations. Here is the back story of Banker Bill Ryan and his descendants.
Banker Bill Ryan was not such a mean man more of a calculating one. He’d watched his father and uncles fail at the diggings and as much as they followed the gold by the end of the nineteenth century they were still penniless. On the diggings five year old Bill witnessed the futility in shifting dirt for little reward and wanted something more. A rudimentary education in a shanty school house showed him how to count, read and write. Good tools for someone in the city but wasted as a digger.
William Ryan however found a way to begin building his fortune on the diggings. Men would pay him to run errands and by the time he was twelve he had enough money to follow the example of Sidney Myer and set up his own store to cater more for the whims of the diggers and their wives.
Smart enough to understand compound interest a lesson learnt when he defaulted on an account in Mr Myer’s store young Bill Ryan started to sell goods on credit and each day he would total his ledgers. If the client’s account was outstanding Bill would add a percentage, a late payment fee he would call it. No more than a boy he had control over many men.
One night a digger unhappy with the way his account had blown out over a month, and spiteful that Bill had accosted his wife for payment gave the young entrepreneur a beating. The beating prompted Bill to move on his plans and he sold the business to one of the late arriving diggers for a tidy profit.
Pickaxe Jack a rough hard drinking digger, who owed Bill plenty of money and with no hope of settling his account, became Bill’s debt collector. When a debt was too far overdue Jack was there, he took part of his fee in cash and the balance reduced his account. Jack too was becoming wealthy.
Bill had seen enough of the squalor, dirty men with uncouth habits. He knew the gold would peter out and though it would be wise to leave before it did, at the news of the next big strike he’d sell. He didn’t wait long, Patrick Long hauled out a twenty ounce nugget and the camp went wild. Bill found a buyer and broke camp. From the lessons he had learnt from lending decided now was the time to set up his own bank. Pickaxe Jack would accompany him on his new adventure.
During the evenings in the camp he hadn’t drank with the others in the saloons and gambling halls, he had studied, reading everything he could on banking law. Bill was ready moving to Melbourne and letting a shopfront on Collins Street opened the Investment Bank of Ireland and Victoria. He’d learnt much about the benefits of interest and he loved the foreclosure laws of the time. Jack had sobered up and bought a nice property on the Maribyrnong River. Collection served him well and the small farm became a model for horse breeders of the area.
Bill took note of Jacks success and offered loans to would be farmers, at the first sign of default he would withdraw the loan and foreclose. Bill only lent to those who farmed where the city would expand too. He leant to business too, Shipbuilders being a favourite. A Steam engine manufacturer and a steel mill in New South Wales over extended and Bill moved quickly. He restructured and extended more capital. Always holding a controlling share he offered inducements for workers to take loans and become share holders. Bill’s empire grew. He paid small but secure interest to depositors and set up trusts for women and orphans.
On the surface Bill looked as upstanding and moral as anyone of the time and his wealth and influence grew. Married to socialite Esther Porteus-McBride they had two children William and Lois, William followed his father into banking and Lois died in her late teens. She drowned when she fell into Port Phillip Bay from the family yacht.
Bill and Bill courted government ministers and government officials, at the first hint of Victoria entering a war they would move on a woollen mill, shipyard, or farming property. Having secured the assets they would tender for supply to either army or navy. It was lucrative and the family’s wealth grew.
William learnt fast and with the rise of gangsters and stand over men in Melbourne saw another way to increase his fortune. He offered a safe house for their extortion racketeering and stand over money.
Considered by the police of the time as ruthless but petty criminals, history never thought of Squizzy Taylor and his like as being organised like Capone in the United States. William Ryan ensured their money was safe and he kept it that way until in nineteen twenty nine he disappeared without trace. Widowed not long after the death of his daughter Bill the banker had died five years before his son.
William’s twelve year old son, Young Bill inherited, but had little or no knowledge of the background to the business. He stayed with it until his twenty first year. Attaining the age of majority, he instructed the family solicitors to dispose of the industrial investments and consolidate most of the family assets into a trust. He personally negotiated the sale of the working assets of the bank, taking cash and shares as payment.
Demolished to make way for an electrical substation, the original building disappeared and Melbourne grew. By the end of the thirties the family had ensconced themselves in Melbourne society, but rumour still plagued the family.
Shamus O’Toole worked for a disgruntled group of stockholders who wanted to find out why a bank that had been dispersing good dividends and had a solid, borrowings to equity ratio, sold so cheaply. They felt dudded by the Ryans and wanted him to gather enough evidence to support challenging the Banker Bill's family through the courts.
More than once Young Bill mounted his own investigations to ensure the dispelling of the rumours. He went to his deathbed not knowing the truth about the family fortune. Like most family legends this began with truth and had an open ending. Bill spent a fortune but much of the evidence was lost or destroyed. Banker Bill took much care recording who owed him money. Not so careful with those he owed money to.
Young Bill a trained solicitor was more suited to running the country estates and developing Melbourne. A suburb of post war homes in the east, followed by a shopping strip development in Brunswick. These were the attractions for him. By the late seventies shopping centres in the expanding suburbs made sense and the Ryan money made it happen. Income from rent and leasing doubled the family fortune each year.
Shopping Centre Bill as his friends now called him now lived in leafy Toorak, his wife provide the couple with two sons, William and Phillip. Phillip flashy and gregarious always wanted more and worked to excel at everything he tried. A risk taker he gambled and loved the yacht club. Frustration would find him when whispers would start about his fortune and often the Ryan name found itself bandied around with the less scrupulous of Melbourne’s families. His desire to prove society and its matrons wrong grew.
A professor of history provided a perfect opportunity to research his family but in fifteen years he had unearthed nothing new. Then this Farrier kid shows up with the journal desk and other paraphernalia. Stuff that could lead to the truth and he had to have it. He had to know why his family was laughed at.