(Originally posted: Jan 18th, 2012 on our Facebook page.)
(A quick apology before getting started. As you can see, I am a day late posting this article. The majority of it was written last night, but alas, I was unable to meet my own deadline. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a trend. Once again, I apologize.)
Hello, hello, everyone.
So here we are. Wednesday.
You know, I’ve spent a good chunk of this last week pondering possible topics for tonight’s article, and while I’ve had no problems coming up with aspects of The Gaslight Volumes of Will Pocket to explore, the difficulty I struggled with was which one would be best suited for this article.
See, although this is technically the second installment of “Spilt Ink,” it really is, for all purposes, the first, as the preceding entry was little more than an introduction and quick tease. So naturally, I kinda sweated, knowing that whatever I chose to write about would sorta set a tone for these articles.
But enough complaining. Let’s get this discussion on the way. Tonight, I will be focusing on a figure that, while never appearing in The Gaslight Volumes, is incredibly pivotal to the creation and workings of this universe.
Tonight, I will be discussing the great Queen Victoria.
Now, those of you who’ve read the Prologue to Turnkey (available in its entirety online) already know that in this series, the spark that eventually caused the creation of New London was the fictional assassination of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert.
What you may not know is how close this is to an actual historical attempt on the Queen’s life in 1840.
To quote Wikipedia:
”During Victoria’s first pregnancy in 1840, in the first few months of the marriage, 18-year-old Edward Oxford attempted to assassinate her while she was riding in a carriage with Prince Albert on her way to visit her mother. Oxford fired twice, but both bullets missed. He was tried for high treason and found guilty, but was acquitted on the grounds of insanity. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Victoria’s popularity soared, mitigating residual discontent over the Hastings affair and the bedchamber crisis.”
The only difference in the Gaslight timeline? The bullets didn’t miss. And from that single twist of history, my entire fictional world came into form. I mean, imagine what could’ve been if that attempt had been successful. Victoria was, remember, pregnant at the time of the attack, and more importantly, she was pregnant with her first child. Maybe the assassination of Victoria and Albert wouldn’t have resulted in the rotting and rebuilding of London as imagined in my novels, but it would have left the monarchy without a direct heir to the throne.
When I first sat down a few years ago to scribble out the framework for what would become New London, I knew that if I chose a fictional assassination as the starting point of my timeline, it would cause a huge ripple through the mindset of the people in my fictional city. And to be honest, I was worried. But the more I explored Victoria’s absence in the narrative, the more potential I saw in it. Eventually I realized that although the late Queen doesn’t ever appear in the text, she is a very influential character. Her untimely death, for example, raises her to a beloved ideal amongst her people and instills a sense of growing paranoia that becomes the defining characteristic of the novel’s fictional King Alexander. She becomes a sort of reference point to the citizens of New London, both a figure of “better times” to those unhappy with the current political state of Britain and a nostalgic forerunner to those proud and thankful for the current Alexandrian rule.
On a smaller level, Victoria is also held in high regard by Gren Spader, one of Turnkey’s main characters, who on occasion praises her sense of stubborn fieriness, a trait he finds attractive in women.
Without going too much into spoilers, I will say a focus on the fallen Victoria will return in The Crescent Rail, specifically in a scene when a broken Will Pocket ends up at her burial grounds.
That’s all for now! See ya next time!