So I was talking to my mom the other day about this character, and I remembered that I had a previous blog dedicated to her – Bertha Blackhour, that is.
Forgive me for snickering like a naughty child playing a prank at my title. It isn’t that I dislike my character, Bertha Blackhour, who resembles an evil (and fat) stepmother. It’s just that her personality and even her physical features seem to find themselves akin to a bowling ball in many ways.
I work at a bowling alley. Bowling balls are round; so is Bertha. They’re hard, and so is Bertha’s stubborn personality. Oftentimes, badly-aimed bowling balls will find themselves rolling in a gutter, and so Bertha’s evil tendencies get the best of her… a lot.
You might think she is structured a bit like the evil stepmother from Cinderella, but actually, she’s not. She wasn’t structured after anyone I knew very well in my high school years, instead, I created the character from the perception that Serena needed some sort of antagonist in her life, someone to rule over her. Someone she needed and wanted to get away from. Bertha serves that purpose well, I think. From her rotund girth to her unbrushed, yellowing teeth to her nasty temper, Bertha Blackhour is exactly what I intended her to be: a bully. Even her name, Bertha (for her girth) and Blackhour (giving her name a sinister and dark sound) seems to describe her character. Although I write only to the descriptions of her fatness and meanness in the first couple chapters of The Lands of Forever, I always envisioned Bertha as having dark, sharp-looking eyes and short, stringy hair. Her normal attire would probably be lounge clothes. In no way do I insist by her character that Americans are lazy. Lazy is a state of mind, not located to any country in the world, but instead to people and their attitudes. Bertha is lazy, as seen by her chore list for Serena. She’s also very greedy, especially for money and for her own pleasure. In yesterday’s excerpt, she sings the praises of the worth Serena’s ancestor’s diary could bring to them both, though Serena (who sleeps in the attic) is quick to see who is really going to get the reward.
When I created Bertha, I didn’t think she was completely evil. As I wrote more, her animosities toward Serena came out, and it appears that she only adopted the girl so she could have someone around the house to do all the chores for her. Actually, that isn’t the case. If only a small shred, Bertha does have a string of good in her. How? In the excerpt yesterday, she allowed Serena to bring in a ‘bedraggled kit’, which she later named Beauty. So Bertha isn’t really one of those loner antagonists that everyone hates and no one wants to get along with. Most antagonists need to have a sidekick anyways, right?
Now for Beauty, the cat. At one time, this poor little black kitten was in terrible need. Of food, shelter, and for a feeling of semblence and love to another creature. She may have attached herself to Serena first, but cats have personalities just like people do. This cat wanted more than the material things. Like most cats, she’s haughty and uppity and deems herself a Queen in her own Realm. Being a Queen, she needed someone to have dominion over, to express her Queenly cat powers. Serena was just the one. And since Bertha already had roosted herself as Serena’s guardian, it isn’t hard to see how Beauty slipped right into the authority position with her (although, concerning her diet, it may have been a tight squeeze).
Together, I think Bertha Blackhour and Beauty (the inappropriately named cat) make an evil duo. But I had another purpose in mind for them when I designed their character: comic relief. I think their laziness and girth give them a laughable entrance. I find hilarity in the fact that they’re trying to be intimidating on Serena, and she knows exactly why they’re doing it.