Tag Archives: robert carlyle

First Meeting

I wrote this thinking it fit into the scene I was working on but then realized it was what the sourcces called “Information Dump” and removed it. I don’t know if I’ll ever use it, but here it is anyway.

This scene documents the first meeting between Molly and Palmer. This time round I imagine Robert Carlyle playing Palmer. Feel free to imagine whomever you feel fills the part as Molly.

Second year. Department Star Trek Movie Marathon. Bored studying, I’d attended alone. Palmer, Dr. Richardson, manned the concessions. I watched him interact with the others in line in front of me. The stories the high school teachers told us about university profs still vivid in my mind, I  grew more and more petrified at the thought of an informal interaction with a prof—any prof—as the line drew me near. Though I knew nothing of Palmer at the time, Dr. Richardson, the department head, had a reputation for being a hard-ass. Watching his mouth as he spoke, the way he flung his hair—the perfect mix of sandy brown, dirty blond, and grey—out of his eyes, the curve of his nose, I was surprised at how personable a man with his reputation could be. When at last it was my turn to order, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to speak.

                “What can I get for you?” he said with a smile.

                I checked out the display of items in stock. “I’ll have a popcorn and a Vernors, please.”

                He nodded over his shoulder. “Popcorn’ll be a while.” This was followed by a very awkward silence. I looked over my shoulder at the people rapidly filling the auditorium and hoped my jacket would be enough to save me my spot. “Well,” he said, “it appears we have a bit of time.”

I nodded and forced a smile; I hoped it looked natural.

“So. All American girl, are you?” I noticed he trilled his Rs slightly and wondered which culture was of influence.


“Really?” He seemed truly astonished.  So what if I don’t go around saying “eh” or mispronouncing “about”.

“Yep. Born and raised. Why?”

“Vernors claims to be the oldest ginger ale in the States.”

“Really?” I said, not feigning interest at all.

“Yeah.” He shook his head to force the bangs from his eyes. When that didn’t work, he used his thumb to push them out of the way. “Dates back to the 1850s or so.”

“It’s more a nostalgic thing for me. My grandfather drank it.”

“So he’s the American, then.”

                “Canadian. Well, British originally, but he immigrated here when he was still very young.”

                Dr. Richardson smiled a polite smile and nodded at my response. Then the awkward and very pregnant silence rose once more.

“So,” he said at last, “are you an archaeology student?”

Where was my popcorn? I was no good at small talk. And he was only slightly better than I. “Anthropology,” I answered.

                “You should switch.” He winked and nodded his head once. “Archaeology’s cooler.”

“I’ll take that under advisement,” I said with a chuckle.” Thanks.”

                The popcorn continued to pop behind the glass of the movie theatre popper the club had rented for the week. It smelled of childhood and Disney movies. Then the opening fanfare of the movie sounded.

                “You should come back later,” he said. “You’ll miss the beginning”.

“No I won’t. This is my favourite one of the series. I must’ve seen it like a dozen times.”

                He laughed once. “Noob,” he said.

“See that guy? The one with the blue shirt and pointy ears over there? He’s seen the movie 32 times. And that guy dressed in leather with the bad wig and dreds? 53 times. That guy? The one in the red jacket and white bib? Over 100 times.”

“So what’s your number?” I asked him, intentionally provocative. The awkward silence gone, engaged in real conversation like we were, I was beginning to see why he was so popular amongst my female peers in the department.

“I haven’t seen the movie yet.”

                “Not even once?”

                “Well I guess technically, this will be my first time then, won’t it?” He leaned forward on the counter between us, as if to let me in on a secret. “I saw a couple a few episodes of the original series when I was younger. Never quite got the hang of it, I’m afraid.”

“But you study anthropology. Star Trek’s all about culture. It’s about all the cultures in the universe coming together. It’s about hope in a world where hope is a rare commodity. It tells us that if we can just learn to get along the human race still has a future.”

“Maybe that’s the problem,” he said. A student had begun to bag the fresh popcorn. Dr. Richardson handed one the bags to me. “I don’t study anthropology. I study archaeology. You should switch. Way cooler.”

I smiled in thanks and said that I should go. He told me to enjoy. When I got back to my seat I looked back at him. The light in the concession stand was the only one in the room besides the projection on the screen. Dr. Suzanne Pascoe, the Egyptology prof approached him from behind and placed a hand on the small of his back. He turned to her and they embraced.

After the movie I saw Dr. Richardson hold her coat for her. He seated it on her shoulders and then reached in behind the collar to lift her long, blonde waves from beneath the jacket. He kissed the back of her neck while it was exposed and then let her hair flow naturally down her neck and back. As I put my own jacket on, I wished I had someone that would treat me with the same tenderness and intimacy as the moment we, unbeknownst to them, had just shared.

Mr. Gold and the Five Facts of Fiction

Believe it or not, I return to teaching less than two weeks from now. I am currently spending my days modifying last year’s lesson plans, working on my latest manuscript, and re-watching season 1 of Once Upon a Time.

The lesson I am currently revising is on character. I found this amazing worksheet online by Steve Peha (http://www.ttms.org) that I use in class called “Five Facts of Fiction” in which students brainstorm the physical, emotional, social, philosophical and intellectual traits of a character, explore what the character wants and whether or not s/he gets it, how the character changes throughout the story and the world in which the story takes place. The task is to complete this worksheet for a character with whom the students are already familiar, either from fiction or the popular media (i.e., television or movies). So of course, I chose Robert Carlyle’s excellent portrayal of Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin with which to complete an exemplar. I won’t bore you with the worksheet notes, but here is the character sketch I wrote as a result of the exercise.

Gold dusted the holdings of his pawn shop tenderly, memories of days gone by, each of them reminiscent of a deal he’d made in that other place. It was cold there, metaphorically speaking, had become so the day he abandoned the army and returned to his village the only survivor of his troop. Fools. They’d dubbed him the resident coward then, but no one could have understood his fear, not unless they’d been there. Back then only the men went to fight in The Ogre Wars and few returned from battle. Then they took the women as well. Then the children.


                His mind returned to his own son whom he’d help escape that world. Better separate and reunited somewhere and somewhen than send him like a lamb to the slaughter.

              That reunion was still forthcoming.

                Gold sighed. He laid the feather duster down and retreated to the back room where his spinning wheel resided and began to spin. Here, in this place without magic, even his spinning was impotent. Here he spun sheep’s wool to yarn; back home he spun straw to gold. Spinning helped to calm his nerves and made him a rich man, but he was nevertheless very lonely.

He’d been happy once. Looking for someone to tend his castle, he’d taken Belle, saving her from enlisting in a loveless marriage, only to find he had feelings for her. When she kissed him, he felt his power threatened and believed her to be an emissary of the Evil Queen and sent her out. He’d heard she returned to her father’s home where she’d been shunned and eventually taken her own life. Here, in Storybrooke, Gold had beaten the man, hoping to hear the truth from his own lips, that Belle was still alive and, like Bae, out there somewhere, somewhen, but to no avail.

               The wheel stopped momentarily as Gold closed his eyes and tried to visualize her face. She was beautiful. Too beautiful to fall for the likes of him without an ulterior motive, he felt sure. Yet he still held onto a strand of hope, a strand as thin and delicate as the gold he favoured spinning from straw. He resumed his spinning. In Fairytaleland, after accepting the power of The Dark One, he was a powerful man, both feared and respected. It was the same in Storybrooke as well. He had fear and respect. What he didn’t have was love, but it was coming, of that he was sure. One day, he would bring magic to Storybrooke and then, when he had regained the power of The Dark One, he would show them all, Regina, her “Royal” majesty, most of all. When that day came, he would find Bae and Belle, and the three of them would live their lives out as the resident royals of Storybrooke, Maine.

                One day he would find his own happy ending.

                One day soon.

Musing about my muse.

James Scott Bell in his book Revision & Self-Editing, advises writers to cast their characters. “You may use any actor in history…and the reader will never know that’s who you had in mind” (108). Though this may be the first time I’ve seen this in print, it’s not a new technique for me. I’ve been casting my characters since I was a teenager. I’ve cast many of my favourite actors in parts including Michael Ironside, Nick Mancuso, Joe Flanigan, and Arnold Vosloo. I call them my muses, because as I imagine them in the parts, the scenes practically write themselves.

My latest muse is my current favourite actor, Robert Carlyle. I was first made aware of Mr. Carlyle in the role of Dr. Nicholas Rush on Stargate: Universe. I dearly love the entire Stargate franchise, but I found myself hard pressed to like the characters on Universe with one exception. I couldn’t figure out Rush, and that intrigued me. When the writers finally gave Rush a softer side, a history and a relationship, I was all that more intrigued. He quickly became my favourite character, the only one I cared about. I realize now that this was a tribute to the actor that played him, and not due to the writing behind the character. I was disappointed when the show was cancelled because it meant the end of Nicholas Rush. Imagine my thrill when I found out that Mr. Carlyle would be starring in the wonderful Once Upon a Time the following season.

In the time between Universe and OUAT I made an effort to see as much of this brilliant actor as I could. The Full Monte, Stone of Destiny, Eight Weeks Later, Eragon, Ravenous…The more I watched, the more I became mesmerized with the man and realized what an amazing actor he is. About the same time, I was looking to recast the character of Dr. Palmer Richardson, the forensic anthropologist that was married to my main character. After much deliberating (it’s hard to change the persona of a beloved character you’ve been writing about for most of your life), it was decided—Robert Carlyle would make an excellent Palmer Richardson.

When writing on The Next Coming Race, the novel that would be the debut of Mr. Carlyle as Palmer stalled, I felt a sense of loss. Here I’d just found a new muse and I had nothing to muse about. When the idea for Chicken or Egg came, it only seemed natural that I would cast Mr. Carlyle in that as well. This time it worked. I hear Mr. Carlyle as the voice of Dr. Nigel Trumble, the time-travelling mogul with a personal agenda, in my head. I’ve been writing at least a chapter a day ever since.

At this time in my writing career, my second and best writing attempt, Phase Shift, is currently under scrutiny at a publisher and I check my email several times a day with baited breath, hoping they are taking their time getting back to me because they intend to publish it and are compiling a list of changes before they do and not because its sitting on an editor’s desk somewhere waiting attention. I want to be ready with the next novel, or at least a part of it, should they want to see more. No matter which character they see, be it Palmer or Nigel, he will have a little bit of my current muse, Mr. Robert Carlyle, written into him. 

Works Cited

Bell, James Scott. Revision & Self-Editing. Writer’s Digest Books: Cincinnati. 2008.