Who are the Highwaypersons? What are they like?
People have asked me about the main characters in my book Highwaypersons: Debts and Duties.
- It is hardly an unreasonable question and it is not one I should find difficult to answer. I invented these characters and I have been living with them for some time as I have written and rewritten, edited and re-edited the novel.
- There is, strangely enough, one difficulty. I keep being reminded that I should ‘show, not tell’ in almost all situations. Advice I appreciate. Salesmen, take note! I hope you will also think how it might apply to your situation, whoever you are.
- One reason for an author to follow such advice is that the readers should make up their own minds about the people they encounter in the book.
Despite this, I will say a few things to let you know what to expect.
The main two characters are Billy and Bethan, his sister, aged around twenty five and twenty six at the start of the story. They come from a farming background in the Rhondda, but have acquired more education than most of their contemporaries.
- They are both dark haired and fairly dark skinned. Billy is tall and slim whilst his sister is of medium height but well-built and buxom.
- Both are clever and determined, although he is less decisive and less aggressive than her.
- Both are troubled by their consciences when they turn to crime.
- They both have a sense of duty, as the subtitle suggests, and are loyal to each other, to their family, to their friends, and to the country. This is sometimes repaid, as will become apparent in the sequel.
- Bethan thinks Billy is too sensitive for his own good.
- Billy loves horses.
- Bethan hates cooking.
I think that is enough about those two.
- Their cousin Megan is a tall redhead who is more temperamental than the siblings.
- There is also an older highwayman who used to be a gentleman and a ruffian-cum-trickster who never was.
Are the women real?
I have been reminded in a tweet that many writers, especially of historical fiction, make their heroines and other female characters little more than toys for the heroes. I entirely agree and have no desire to write about women in that way. Most women I know have far more about them than those weedy heroines. I expect that was true of real women down the ages, not only the exceptional ones who ‘made history’ like Boudicca and Elizabeth I. History was and is made by millions of people of all classes, ages and genders.
See how many female highwaypersons there are in the book and see what you think of the other female characters. I do not think you will find any are mere toys of the men. Could the opposite be true?