The Pickled Past (Page 34)
I always like to finish each story with a long ramble! This story is no different…
With the first Girls in Space story The Prototype, only half of the script was written when I started drawing, the rest was just plot points and notes which I scripted as I went. Push the Button was assembled from various scraps I had pre-written, and though the script was completed before the drawing stage began, I felt it was a little clumsy. So, for the third story, The Pickled Past I started planning well before scripting any of it, even making a couple of drafts of the script. I wanted the third adventure to be a tale with a beginning, middle and end.
The only element I needed to introduce, for the overall plot, was that of time travel. With Zoe trapped on Earth in 2010, I wanted to put the space girls somewhere in Earth’s past and for their actions to have some influence on those in the present day. My immediate thought was that the girls would realise they were in the past and try to get a message to Zoe that they were looking for her, however, I couldn’t think of a satisfactory method of passing that message to the future and preserving it for hundreds of years, undiscovered.
Eventually I thought of introducing a character who lived for hundreds of years, and this planted the seed that led to The Pickled Past. I felt the story needed two villains, one for Zoe to defeat – Mrs Grobbins – and one for the space girls – Oggler. So, in the 2010 story Oggler could never appear. I didn’t feel either of the space party (Faye and Red) would want to hurt anyone, so instead I felt it would be better if he got trapped or defeated by the events of the past. So I decided to look for events in Edinburgh’s past which Oggler could get embroiled in.
I went to the library and borrowed a book on historic Edinburgh called The Town Below The Ground by Jan Andrew Henderson and learned a lot about the spooky tales of the city. The book reminded me about Mary King’s Close, a street which, it is claimed, was sealed off with the city’s plague victims still inside. This gruesome tale seemed like a perfect way of defeating Oggler and would be a story that not too many people outside of Edinburgh would know about. It made me settle on 1644 as the year the girls would travel back to (as this was the year it was claimed to have happened). The Internet helped me with further research, such as what people wore in 17th century Edinburgh and allowed me to confirm other elements (such as whether pubs and prostitutes existed in Edinburgh back then).
I then puzzled out the story. The idea of Mrs Grobbins preserving a “message” from the girls evolved to Faye having a photograph tucked away in her dress (See page 4). The dress would be left in the past (and it would look like fan service), only for the final page to reveal what the entire story was building up to… Zoe discovering the photograph and knowing that her sister was somewhere, somewhen trying to find her.
I learned a lot from this story and it has changed the way I approach writing. The next story, albeit a less complex tale, has been approached in a similar fashion and I can’t wait to share it. The cover for story 4 will be posted on Saturday, with the first page going live on Monday. I hope you enjoy it.
Thank you for reading The Pickled Past.