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February 20, 2013

Eleanor T. Beaty: The Character vs the Inspiration

I based Andrea, Lya’s older sister, on a childhood friend. I did exaggerate a bit of her meanness but not too much. Her role, as a secondary character, was meant to contrast Lya’s kindness. I intended Andrea to be extremely dislikable, but many readers have reacted warmly towards her. Concerned even. An unexpected reaction, but a welcome one. This childhood friend of mine was a year older than me, and I was fascinated by her. For the sake of this blog, I will call her Mary.

Mary was my alter ego. I was shy, she wasn’t. I never lied, she always did and so on…that should be enough to get an idea of how opposite we were. Even physically. I was tall and thin, she was short and curvy. What we did have in common was; complicated parents of foreign origin, the same school and the tendency to get into trouble. We were drawn to each and did practically everything together through our early teens.

However, we did have a few falling-outs. I was somewhat short tempered and Mary was a provoker. Once, when we were at summer school together, we fought and went from best friends to worst enemies. I had a roommate I didn’t like much and Mary knew it. She decided to befriend the so-called roommate to annoy me and would come around to provoke.

It didn’t take much to make me lose it. My roommate and I had split the room in half with tape and I stated Mary could never step on my half. Until that day I had never released my wrath on Mary. She had no reason to think I would. Mary walked in, saw the tape and put her foot on my side. I warned her to remove it. She didn’t. I pounced on her and scratched her from head to toe. She ran out, straight to the infirmary where she was given a tetanus shot. Maybe she didn’t explain that the nails that scratched her were FINGERNAILS. Seriously, who gets a tetanus shot because of fingernails?

Well there went my reputation for the rest of the summer. Mary never challenged me again, physically, but when she could, she would put me down verbally, or go for the guy I had a crush on. Even so I couldn’t help but like her. She was funny and creative, had a great sense of style and got whatever she wanted.  Unfortunately, when a teen we don’t see the down side to having our every whim fulfilled. What Mary didn’t have was a family that cared.

I didn’t have much of one either, but somehow it was more than she had. My parents imposed more rules, I didn’t get almost anything I wanted-even though my family was also well-off, and I got shipped off to boarding school for three years. Summer camps filled in the gaps between school terms. Mary went to a boarding school for one year and was allowed back. But not me. I could beg until I was green, my parents didn’t care. I only managed to come home in ninth grade after getting kicked out so many times, my parents ran out of options.

During my years in boarding school, Mary started drinking, not on the weekend or at parties, like the rest of us, but during school. She would take orange juice and vodka with her everyday. By 15 she was an alcoholic. Then going out with Mary to a party became a not-so-fun adventure. Most of the time the night would end with either my sibling or I carrying an almost unconscious Mary back to our house.

In Fallen Ruler, the scene on the stairs where Lya has to get Andrea up to her room was based on Mary. Every time Mary would argue with me all the way up, saying she could do it alone, until one day I got tired of being mistreated and let go. She tumbled down the stairs. I went back down and asked her if she was ready to try again. That was the last time she berated me. In my bedroom I put her down on the mattress, took off her clothes and covered her. She asked me to untie a bead necklace. For the love of God, there was no way I could undo the knot, and she insisted I get it off. I did, with scissors. When she woke up the next morning she saw all the purple marks on her body and her bead necklace strewn across the floor. I told her I had no idea how any of that had happened. If she wasn’t go to remember, why should I, right?

We slowly grew apart as her drinking got worse. So many people tried to help her get off that path of self-destruction but she didn’t want to change. By the age of twenty, she had such a bad reputation no one would take her seriously, nor give her a chance, or even want to be with her. It made me angry and sad at the same time that a person with so much potential would choose to be a drunk. And even though I know alcoholism is a disease, she had so many opportunities, the friends, and money to get the treatment and help she needed, but she chose not to. Mary died in her early fifties, leaving only the memory of a sorry drunk as her legacy. Andrea is a tribute to Mary, and a reminder that children require and need guidance, not things. Not luxury, not freedom but rules, well defined rules, to be able to cope with life.


A lush garden, with ancient ficus trees, surrounded her grandmother’s cottage in the Grove. The tall trees’ cascading aerial roots had terrified Lya when she was small. At night they turned into huge monsters with scary faces. Nee had come up with the perfect solution to make her feel safe; she'd placed three angels with chimes in the garden to guard the house. These angels didn’t have wings or names. They were but blue wooden silhouettes.

Nee’s gates stood open. The mango trees in her garden were loaded; the sweet scent of ripe fruit permeated the driveway. There would be mango bread for tea. Her seventy-year-old grandmother opened the door dressed in an orange Sari. Her shoulder-length gray hair was pulled back in a ponytail, which brought out her almond-shaped brown-green eyes.

“Abhaya.” Nee gave her a tight hug.

Abhaya, Lya’s Indian name meaning “fearless,” had been given to her by a nurse at the Delhi Hospital the day she was born.

Lya kissed her grandmother’s cheek.

Nee looked past her. “And Utpalini, has she escaped?”

Utpalini was Andrea’s Indian name, given to her by Nee. “More like bolted, while I dozed.”

Nee smiled. “Her loss.”

Lya felt bad about her sister’s treatment of Nee. Andrea considered her an embarrassment, an outdated hippie who should be put out of her misery.

The aroma of mango and dough drifted through the house. Nee’s cottage had beautiful art pieces collected during her travels. The Russian icon of a Madonna and Child and the bronze Buddha sitting on his wooden pedestal were Nee’s favorites.

“I set tea in the garden with the angels.”

Lya smiled to herself. As soon as they stepped out, the chimes rang in welcome. Lya bowed and thanked the angels. She still hadn’t figured out how her grandmother rang those chimes on cue. There were no wires. Three places had been set on the old picnic table under the golden raintree’s cascading canopy, now lined with yellow flowers. Lya sat facing the house, knowing her grandmother liked to face the angels.

“How was the trip?”

Lya shrugged. “Ok. I didn’t sleep much. The plane was full.”

Her grandmother poured the tea. “And your father?”

“He caught a flight to headquarters. He’ll be back tonight.” The company’s headquarter was in New York City.

“And your mother?”

Her mother, Carla had stayed behind to pack up the house. Or so she said. “She arrives next week.”

“How is everyone dealing with the move?”

“Well, it varies. Mom’s upset; she didn’t want to leave Brazil. When Dad announced the move, she said she didn’t care where they went, since anywhere with Dad sucked.”

Nee’s eyebrows shot up. “I thought things had calmed down.”

“No. I think it’s gotten worse between them. They weren’t fighting as much because they kept out of each other’s way. Both Dad and Andrea are furious over the move. Dad thought he’d get something like Paris after Bolivia and Brazil, and not another underdeveloped country like India.”

About the Author:
Eleanor T. Beaty is a Young Adult Paranormal author. A worldly person born in beautiful Brazil and spent much of her childhood in several places (Argentina, Switzerland, and the US to name a few). She holds a BA in English Literature and is published in both Brazil and Turkey.

Eleanor loves spirituality and magic - both have allowed her to gain a strong grip on life and enjoy what it has to offer. She believes that everything has a reason and understanding those reasons help us deal with the difficult moments. Eleanor currently enjoys life with her husband in Brazil.

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  1. I very much enjoyed reading about the inspiration for a character. This made me very curious about the book!


  2. Thanks so much for hosting Eleanor on your blog!