Category Archives: Portrait

Portrait of a Character – Bron

Bron, the hopeless romantic.

For Valentine’s’ Day, here’s a look at a character absolutely motivated by love.

Bron, Sophra, and The Unexpected Pairing

On Ad Astra, I swear I was only joking when I suggested a Star Trek fanfiction love story about a shy write it!

My first venture into the Bron-Sophra pairing was The Reptile Speaks. What I wanted to get across was the idea of a very unexpected lover. Currently, for us humans, an unexpectedly romantic person or partner might be someone who is of a different race or religion from us, or someone who we might not see as romantic (the stereotypical jock or soldier, perhaps).

Analogous Mixed Pairings Here on Earth

Back when I was a kid, a mixed marriage was considered, generally, as being between two people of different religions. And, a good hundred-plus years before that, technically, it was an issue for Jews if the one of the two parties to a marriage was Sephardic, and the other Ashkenazi. In that case, even a marriage of two Jews could be seen this way. And of course now you see a lot of mixed race marriages. A major, landmark case, Loving vs. Virginia (Supreme Court, 1967) declared any legislation outlawing marriage between differing races was unconstitutional.

As a Massachusetts resident, I have seen my share of same-sex marriages as well. I recognize that this is not the norm everywhere, but it is becoming so here. These examples are as close as we can get to the concept of interspecies romance and, perhaps, marriage.

Portrayal

For alien characters requiring a lot of makeup and/or prosthetics, it can be difficult to visualize them. But for me, Bron is a classic romantic lead in a difficult body. I think of Leonardo DiCaprio,

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Leonardo DiCaprio as Bron (image is for educational purposes only)
Leonardo DiCaprio as Bron (image is for educational purposes only)

who has made himself somewhat less than attractive in a lot of roles, but has also been a romantic lead. Forget the hair. Forget the skin. Concentrate on the eyes, on the voice, on the body shape and size, on the posture, on the mannerisms, and let your imagination wander. Think of what it was like to be a teenager, or shy, or not fitting in. Think of longing, and of missed opportunities, and of insecurity.

Is there not a soul in the sentient reptile? Hath not the Gorn eyes?

Quote

“Um, I just, I don’t know if you would want to be, to be seen with, with a guy like me.”

A Gentle Dragon?

My hope with creating Bron was and is to put forth someone who is out of left field when it comes to romance and gallantry. Bron’s gentle nature is not readily apparent. You have to look past frightening teeth, claws and scales. You need to see what’s inside the person, and uncover the sensitivity within.

When a weekly free write prompt came up about crying, I decided to continue the Bron-Sophra story with Insecurity. I often have trouble writing characters weeping (and for the life of me, I have no idea why), but Bron’s crying, to me, rang true. He is a teenaged character, with a lot of the insecurities and highs and lows that come from being about fifteen or sixteen or so. And like a lot of less than good-looking guys out there, he worries about his chances with girls and is shy because he doesn’t want to be hurt.

You may not want to hug him, still, but I hope you can see beyond the teeth, the claws and the cold-bloodedness. We may very well find that some of our best and closest alien friends look nothing like us. Why, when you next hear a Shakespearean sonnet, it might just come from a guy who looks like this.

Barking up the muse tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The truth about Bron
The truth about Bron

Portrait of a Character – Leonora (Norri) Digiorno

Portrait of a Character – Leonora (Norri) Digiorno

Leonora has a history from before my start writing Star Trek fan fiction.

All characters are me, and I am all characters.

At least, that is, when it comes to the originals. And when it comes to Star Trek canon, there are plenty of things that I add, so those additions are me, too.

Roots

Leonora was kicking around for a few years, even before I started writing Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction, which was back in April of 2005. Actually, it was just her first name. She was originally a kind of foundling. The character was a girl from medieval times who was orphaned by the Black Death and saved (from a bear – hey, I like Shakespeare) by being plucked out for a time travel purpose. I modified the time travel series quite a bit in order to create a series of stories called Times of the HG Wells, but I brought Norri in earlier, for the In Between Days series, although she is seen a little during the Wells series. Confused yet?

I hadn’t originally written her as a lesbian, either, but the idea presented itself because I was looking for a parallel to a day/night concept that I had going on. The In Between Days series gives its main characters active nighttime lives (through the dream state) which are almost as important as their daylight lives. To really bring the point home, I created a bi character, Melissa Madden. But Melissa needed a lesbian lover in order to pull it all off, so Norri emerged.

Symbolism

Portrait of a Character - Leonora (Norri) Digiorno
Alyson Hannigan at a celebration of the 100th …

Norri is the most literary of the main characters in the In Between Days series, starting off as a book editor, eventually getting her PhD and writing a book of her own. At the time I was shaping her, I was working for a book publisher, so she partly evolved from that. Her last name, of course, means “of the day”, so she is not only an embodiment of daytime, she also parallels main character Lili O’Day (who is also “of the day”). Furthermore, five of the six main characters (everyone but Pamela Hudson) are associated with elements. Norri is outside of what we might think of as the four traditional “elements”, and so hers is the Hindu fifth element – communications (sometimes called the ether or the void, which makes sense in space).

Visualization

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Norri | Red | Leonora
Norri D’Giorno (image of Alyson Hannigan is for educational purposes only)

It was important for me to see Norri as being “played” by an actress who has played at least one gay character already. She would be young but wise beyond her years, and to be a redhead. Hence, Alyson Hannigan.

Background

I also like the idea of Norri being someone who is somewhat remote. Of all of the main characters in the In Between Days series, you learn the least about her. And that’s by design. Of the five big books in that series, Temper and Fortune have the most information about her, and even then she’s really just a sketch.

She even gets a second nickname which is a misnomer. Malcolm refers to her as “Lioness” or “the Lioness”, when the truth is that her name means “light”. So she’s a kind of double light and daytime character.

Personality

As a person, she is forced to rise to the occasion. She must commit some forms of self-sacrifice several times. This is whether it’s to become Neil’s sole caregiver in Temper, or to shepherd children away so that various couples can have their privacy. But she gets her due. And so she is the final commenter and recordkeeper when it comes to the lives of the principal characters in the In Between Days series.

In fact, in his last moments, Tommy thinks of her and also recalls her book, The Human Pioneers of Lafa II.

Her sexuality is rarely at issue. She acknowledges that she was very aware of it certainly by the time she graduated from college. However, her parents were wary of it, and her father hoped she would grow out of it (I explore this in An Announcement). Of course, that doesn’t happen. Her scenes with Melissa are as intimate as those between the straight couples. Norri also begins her romance more conventionally than most of the others do – she meets Melissa in a bar.

Mirror Universe

Norri barely makes an appearance in the MU, save for her death, which is particularly senseless.

Alyson Hannigan
Alyson Hannigan (Photo credit: Jessica Finson)

Her murder is recalled, somewhat remorsefully, in Bread.

Music

Not every character has a musical theme, but Leonora does. As one might expect, it’s Elvis Costello’s “Every Day I Write the Book”.

Quote

“It’s not necessarily unfair. You’d be sleeping. Everybody sleeps. I can’t get into your dreams. All that’s changing now, really, is that I know, more or less, what those dreams are. But you and I, we have the big thing, the big love.”

Upshot

Book smart and funny, Norri is the essence of communication, holding everyone together, and making everything spin.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Norri| Red | Leonora
Norri (Red)