Friday, August 6, 2010

Spanner: What Is Leila Doing?

Shira's gorgeous girlfriend Leila Shelley is a very important character in Spanner — but you wouldn't know it from the JulNoWriMo incomplete draft. Right now, if I remember right, I've only written two scenes for her. They're very big scenes, but still just two. The pivotal one has Shira catching her by the hand when she tries to jump off a bridge. After that, the two girls are stuck together for the rest of the story, at least.

Leila Renata Shelley is a Dublin-born teenage fashion model, and the daughter of an Irish footballer/soccer star spending the twilight years of his career with the Seattle Sounders. She has an equally beautiful twin brother, Robert Louis Shelley, and a redheaded younger sister named Fiona. They are also the children of Ian Shelley's estranged wife, the notorious goth rock singer Taylor Brinkman {token Angelina Jolie character alert}. In a future post, I'll explain how Taylor managed to convince punk legend Rat Scabies to be their godfather. Taylor is also a devout martial artist, and she sent her children to study ninjutsu. She was an excellent student. Rob, who adores her, made sure of that.

She was already a beauty in full bloom when she won the Miss Junior Nude Europe beauty contest in 2010 (that means this summer!), when she was 11. (Such things are possible in Europe but not America. Go figure.) After that, she spent four rough but lucrative and exciting years modelling in the most fashionable cities of Europe: London, Paris, Milan, Barcelona. She had a melancholy air, so she appeared mostly in photographs in which she looks like she's strung out or dying. The simulated deaths are either suicidal or (on the verge of being) spectacular. (This was inspired in large part by the gorgeously morbid Pure H ad photorns in Jon Armstrong's "ültra" cyberpunk novel Grey.) As reports of recent suicides by young models have revealed, fashion is an industry built on making beautiful people feel ugly. Take an already mildly depressed young woman, expose her to such working conditions (and the predatory tabloids and paparazzi hellbent on worsening them), and the result is potential suicide. Leila nearly becomes an actual one.

Suddenly she finds herself with her whole life ahead of her, contrary to her plan. Her rescuer, one Shira Thomas (herself with rock 'n' roll roots: she's the daughter of Band with No Name guitarist/vocalist Cedric Anthony [Ric] Thomas III, a.k.a. Red Mercury [originally his CB radio handle]) is in love with her beautiful body and is determined to know her. Shira strikes her as suspiciously familiar: one year younger than Leila (she's about to turn 15 when Spanner begins), Shira strongly resembles the infamous Rebel Styles, preteen video slut. Shira and Rebel share a charisma so powerful it generates a reality distortion field, and in fact they turn out to be the same person.

Shira and Leila quickly become lovers, of course — I not only originally intended Spanner to be a manga, but (since 1996) specifically a yuri manga — and struggle to know and love each other even as they crave each other's bodies. Their passionate romance is necessarily an act of defiance against a neofeudal Corporate world obsessed with eugenics and an America ruled ruthlessly by the more extreme fundamentalist and racist elements of the TEA Party.

Now what is Leila actually doing in Spanner book one, besides having wild sex with Shira and craving her when she's not? Let's important part of her story arc that I've been thinking about but not writing down the past few years involves her relationship with her twin brother Rob and her sister Fiona, while another one (still very vague) involves her tangles with the teen queen of mean, Charmian Fleer. A new idea I just got may anchor her more strongly in the plot: the huge fight scene at the end of Book 1, between Shira and her enemy, high school overlord Barton Green, may very well be fought in part over the fate of Leila.

Now I'll map out Leila's character arc in Book 1 and get to writing her during AugNoWriMo. Now what is Rob going to be doing once he fights Bart to a draw early in the novel? I wonder...

Back to Spanner’s World...

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