Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden
Melissa Madden arose out of an idea I had for Lili, actually. Since Lili was going to have a particular arrangement, there had to be what was essentially a counterpart arrangement. Enter Melissa.
In Intolerance, there are four crew members who are worse off than the others. One of them is Melissa. At the time, I was already thinking about Together and so I wanted the name to be out there, perhaps in the back of the minds of readers. Melissa was also intended as homage to canon character Martin Madden, who is Steven Culp‘s character in Star Trek: Nemesis. The character is only a part of additional footage; the actual scene went to the cutting room floor.
I also wanted Melissa to be a direct expression of a day/night dichotomy. Hence, she is bisexual, and the day is devoted to a female lover, Leonora, whereas the night is devoted to a male lover, Doug. Switching up the dichotomy even more is the fact that, when introduced, she is working the night shift.
Due to the connection to Culp, I opted for actress Catherine Bell. I also chose Bell because she has a rather different look from both Lili and Leonora. I also wanted a physical portrayal of someone who would be believable as both a mother and an athlete.
This would be someone with almost a fly-boy (fly-girl, I suppose) swagger, too, reflecting the character’s occupation as a pilot. At the same time, the character needed to be feminine but also not too terribly young. Even though she is a lot younger than Doug, I show enough of her later life that it’s almost more than of her younger years. In fact, I have no writings of her childhood or young adulthood, like I do for the Norri, Lili, and Doug.
Five of the six main characters (everyone but Pamela Hudson) is associated with an element. Melissa is the earth element, even though she’s a pilot. A part of this is her earthiness, another part is her hunting and back to nature behaviors. She’s a lot more comfortable out of doors than either Norri or Lili are. To me, she symbolizes solidity.
Beyond the day/night, two lovers situation, Melissa is a skilled pilot and devoted to her family. She becomes a mother three times (all boys) and imparts her love of Starfleet to Tommy and her split persona to Neil.
Kevin, though, is tragic – she buries him when he is less than a month old. This changes her, making her more pensive in her later years. In her much later years, she develops the canon disease Irumodic Syndrome, which is an analogue to Alzheimer’s. In Fortune, the reader witnesses some of her decline. I follow up on this snippet with The Decision.
For Melissa, relationships follow the day and the night. She is a kind of split personality character. Her whole romantic persona has two sides to it.
They meet cute, when both are on vacation on Ceres. Melissa essentially crooks her finger, and Norri comes running. They originally settle on Ceres.
Melissa and Doug are paired up during Together, and she is a direct reason why Lili and Doug open up their marriage. It’s not just due to her pregnancy; it is also because they truly love each other.
As might be expected, her initial music is the Allman Brothers’ Sweet Melissa. With Doug, her theme is the Cure’s Let’s Go to Bed. With Norri, the theme is k. d. lang’s Constant Craving. Her final theme is Joe Jackson’s Get That Girl.
“I never loved another man. Never wanted to.”
The Mirror Melissa’s life is defined by poor choices and tragedy. Her death is one of the scenes in Fortune, and she is also remembered by her lover, Andrew, in Escape.
Kind and sometimes a little silly, the perceptive peacemaker is a part of the glue holding the main characters in the In Between Days series together. And as a foundational member of the family, her descendants are just as important as Lili’s are.