Portrait of a Character – Josie O’Connor (Jhasi Tantharis)
I wanted a pair of tragic figures for the HG Wells stories. Kevin O’Connor would be a widower, and Richard Daniels would be a womanizer who needed more out of life. Originally, Kevin’s deceased wife, Josie, wouldn’t be seen at all. She didn’t even have a species to start out. But the more I thought about the delicacy and weirdness of the Aenar, the more I wanted Josie to be one of them.
Josie is played by former child star Ashley Olsen.
Between the Olsen twins, she’s tended to be the quieter one, and seems to stay out of the public eye more than her sister, Mary-Kate, does.
I wanted someone who would look like a waif but not anorexic, at least not at the beginning. Josie would start off as youthful and beautiful, the picture of health. But it all goes horribly wrong.
Friendly, personable and kind, Josie is a kindergarten teacher when she meets Kevin. She’s also a bit of a fashion plate – a strange thing for someone who is blind. But the Aenar reportedly have something of a sixth sense, so Josie is able to coordinate her rather flashy outfits.
Josie’s sole relationship is with Kevin. According to The Point is Probably Moot, Candy, and The Honky-Tonk Angel, they meet at a party at his engineering firm, when Kevin, a new-quarter-teragram-sized part-Gorn, is dragged along to play wingman for his coworker, Archie Leach. Leach strikes out with a Trill, but Kevin connects with Jhasi. Mishearing her name, he calls her Josie, and thinks he’s blown it. But she finds him charming.
He takes her to a ballgame for their first date, and they get serious very quickly, and marry. But things go awry when she’s diagnosed with a fatal disease, Piaris Syndrome. The illness is a degenerative one, but the worst part of it is at the very end, when she stops knowing him.
In The Point is Probably Moot, the temporal changes wrought by the Perfectionists result in her being briefly restored to life, and she finally speaks in a story that isn’t a prequel.
I have never written a Mirror Jhasi/Josie,
but there is no reason why she can’t exist.
She would likely have never wed Kevin, and might never have gotten sick. An intriguing idea that I might explore one of these days.
“Listen,”I don’t want to be dead and I don’t want you to be gone from our marriage. Kindly do not misunderstand me. But I think, well, it’s an odd gift that you and I have been given here. I feel that we have a chance here. I suppose I have a chance to tell you what I would have always wanted to tell you, under such circumstances.”
Much like Kevin Madden-Beckett in Fortune, Josie is a tragic figure. But she had a life before her illness, and even before her marriage. Neither should define her as much as I’ve allowed them to. In order to know Jhasi better, maybe I should write another prequel about her.