Aug 04

Why I should never have asked my characters to tweet

I walk into the study, head full of grand promotional ideas and high on the possibilities of social media. Tanyana is sitting in my chair, playing with the suit on her right hand like it’s a Swiss army knife. The malleable metal slides out of the band around her wrist, coats her hand, then forms nail scissors, then a screwdriver, then a can opener. She glances up at me, pulls the suit back into its band — where it settles into the usual spinning silver and brightly glowing symbols — and scowls. She’s been bored since we finished the last revisions and doesn’t take kindly to being ignored.

“I have just the thing to keep you busy!” I say. “How would you like to sign up for twitter?”

Her expression doesn’t change.

“It’s easy,” I continue. “You’ve got 140 characters in which to be witty and entertaining, and you can post as often as you want.”

She stands. Her short blonde hair is heavily styled — she’s been stealing my products again — and she’s wearing a pair of my jeans. I’ve asked her not to do that. Doesn’t she realise jeans haven’t been invented in her world? They look so wrong on her.

“I don’t think so,” she says, and crosses her arms. “You want me to go from unravelling the mystery of the accident that stripped me of my powers and discovering long lost truths about my world, to being witty and entertaining in 140 characters or less?”

“But all the cool characters are doing it,” I say. When that gets me nowhere, I try, “Don’t you want to promote the book? After everything I went through giving birth to… ah… I mean… writing you?”

She grins, because she knows she’s won. “Well that just invalidated everything you say from now on.” She sits back down and starts making little silver corkscrews.

“Fine then.” I will not be defeated by my own creations! “If you won’t do it, I’ll ask the others.”

She doesn’t even look up. “Oh yeah, because the twitterverse is really going to care about what some secondary character thinks.”

“What about you?” I spin, and point to Kichlan, who has just appeared and is leaning against the wall behind me. He looks down at me, deep brown eyes mildly amused. At least he hasn’t stolen my clothes — he’s still wearing his usual heavily patched jacket and pants — but then again, he’s far too tall to fit into any of mine. Lad, his younger brother, is sitting on the floor beside his legs, eating a delicious-smelling home baked pastry. They always come as a pair.

“You don’t think she’ll listen to me, do you?” Kichlan asks, eyebrows raised. “She’s far too stubborn. I can’t make her see reason any more than you can.”

Tanyana clears her throat. “Still here, you know.”

“So you are,” Kichlan says with an air of over-exaggerated innocence.

I rub at my temples. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. “No,” I say. “I know that. I wrote her that way, remember?”

“How’s that working out for you?” Kichlan grins.

“What I meant is, will you tweet?”

Kichlan straightens. “And when, exactly, would I do that? While I’m walking the streets, collecting debris all day? You haven’t exactly given us access to smart phones, you know.”

“I know, but–“

“Or when I’m at home? Somewhere between looking after Lad, eating and sleeping? Now that you’ve introduced Tanyana into my life I’ve forgotten the very meaning of the words ‘spare time’.”

Tanyana lifts a hand. The suit on her wrist reflects brightly in the mirror. “No offense taken,” she mutters.

“I will do it!” Lad leaps to his feet, and knocks a stack of notebooks from the edge of my desk. He looks so much like his brother, only taller, and his hair his messier, and his eyes sparkle with excitement. “Today Geny and I made porridge and then I helped him cut up vegetables for dinner before we left–” he tries to count characters on his fingers and quickly looses his place.

I collect the notebooks. They’re full of worldbuilding for the new book, and I really don’t want Tanyana to see them. “Thank you, Lad,” I say. “But you don’t have to do that. And anyway, no one’s really interested in what you’re having for dinner. That’s one of the rules of twitter, you know.”

“But I can help!” he cries. “I really can.” He tries again. “We are going debris collecting today but bro says I shouldn’t listen to the voices in my head even though they help me find­–” He looses his place again and turns to his brother. “How many was that, bro?”

Kichlan is scowling at me. “Oh thank you so much,” he mutters. “This is just what I need in my life.”

I sigh. “Never mind. Forget about it. Let’s not bother.”

Then a cold breeze enters the study, and the Puppet Men appear. Three of them, all identical in their spotless white coats. They surround me. Tanyana is on her feet in an instant, the suit on both her wrists extended into long blades. Lad hides behind Kichlan.

The Puppet Men fix their not-quite-real eyes on me. Their ill-fitting, leathery skin splits as together, they smile.

“We heard you wanted someone to tweet,” they say, with one voice. “We would happily volunteer.”

It’s getting colder. Tanyana guards the computer but somehow, one of them has my iphone.

“Long have we heard about the power of this arcane internet,” the Puppet Men continue, and open the Tweetdeck app. “We are curious to test its limits. To see just how powerful a tool it can be. In the right hands.”

I have this terrible sinking feeling.

Tanyana rolls her eyes at me. “Now look at what you’ve done,” she says.

@PuppetMen Cute world you have here. We’ll take it! Do you have it in silver?


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  1. Jaime Callahan

    Saw the link to this from Anne Lyle’s twitter. Very funny! Even if your main characters won’t use twitter, this post has definitely piqued my interest in their stories.

  2. Dad

    Go to bed, Jo !!

  3. Sue Santore

    This is hilarious! Thanks for the entertaining blog post.

  4. Rabia


  5. Joanne

    Thanks folks! :)

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