While submitting Far From the Tree to agents, I am currently trying to take my mind off the process by continuing to write the next book in the series, Sweeter than Cider. This has led me up some interesting alleyways, down some intriguing garden paths and introduced me to a whole new set of possibilities for giving the voices in my head a bit more of a life. But a lot of the time, it has basically made me contemplate the gorgeous bundle of cad that is Jonathan Elias Carter.
Now, if Matthew Carter is the granite face of the family business, Jonathan has, until recently, been the chalk. Some might suggest that he, being the ‘spare’ to Matthew’s heir has had it rather easier than his big brother. To write him off as a lightweight, though, would be to do him a great disservice. He’s at least as intelligent as Matthew, even if he has a slightly alternative moral centre, and he’s been a success in his own right. But what do I really know about him?
Well, let’s start with what he looks like (‘cos I’m superficial like that!). A million years ago, when Jonathan arrived in my head, I imagined he looked like this:
I needed someone a little slighter than Matthew – still strikingly good looking, but in a different shade. Simon Woods fitted the bill perfectly, for quite a long time when I was writing. But then, as these things tend to, the visual in my mind began to change. I actually needed to ‘see’ someone a little more physically commanding, who would provide less of a contrast to Matthew. The two of them are supposed to be similar in so many ways, and so when I stumbled across a slightly different image, Jonathan became this:
I’d actually seen Simon Baker in this ad campaign for Givenchy, and that was the clincher; this ad is pure Jonathan Carter.
The effortlessly debonaire stride, the way his suit seems to dance on his frame…and that easy appeal to women sums up, at least superficially, Jonathan’s appeal as a character. Of course, as his story unfolds, there is more to him than that, but the impression we get of him at the outset is of a man who, like Matthew, is at ease with himself and who he is, but who carries the responsibility of the family heritage a little more lightly. This is evident from the first time we meet him in person in the novel, where ‘whippet slim elegance meets shambling Irish Wolfhound grace’ on Matthew’s doorstep.
And, of course, the visual contrast (but also striking similarity) between Simon Baker and my number one casting contender for Matthew, Richard Armitage, was too good to ignore when I placed them side by side:
These two pictures sum up exactly why I’d cast Simon and Richard as brothers in any screen adaptation of the book – right down to the fact that Simon’s got a winning smile, and Richard’s just about maintaining his brood ;).
So, the question is, what is Jonathan Carter’s story? What journey will he go on in the second novel that is, perhaps, hinted at in the first? There are certainly a few hints kicking around on this website, if you care to look, but, given that I write #ruralmance, perhaps that journey won’t come as a great surprise ;). This last picture, though, reminds me of a moment I’ve already written for Sweeter than Cider, may well hint at slightly darker things to come for our favourite son and spare. And the vid is a kind of moving image collage that should paint a picture of what’s he’s like. Enjoy 😉