Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Characters and Collections

on October 3, 2011

I am always interested in “collections.” What do people collect and why?  As a tween, I collected Smurfs.  Every Saturday, after gymnastics, Dad and I would head off to the Hallmark store so I could look at the Smurfs. The Smurfs were little, plastic blue figurines. Some held musical instruments, others were dressed in soccer outfits. There were Papa Smurf figurines and Smurfette Figurines as well as the regular blue Smurfs. I spent a lot of allowance and babysitting money on Smurfs.  Some weeks, I didn’t have enough for a Smurf. They were about four or five dollars each, and that usually meant I had to save two full weeks worth of allowance. Some weeks, I’d spent money on the ice cream sandwich bars at school, or stopped for a donut or chocolate chip cookie at Dunkin Donuts.  So, sometimes I just looked and tried to figure out which Smurf I would buy next.

I recently remembered this Smurf story when a friend and I were talking about how do kids buy e-books for their readers. She said that her twelve-year-old daughter had a Nook. Her daughter had a savings account, and my friend and her husband were going to set up a checking account with the savings account. Each week, they would deposit allowance money into the daughter’s checking account. The checking account would be linked to Barnes and Noble, and the daughter would have to learn how much she could spend on books. They were turning buying books into a lesson in money management.

It reminded me of my lessons with collecting Smurfs.

But, collections aren’t always things we choose either. At some point, my family decided I collected lighthouses. I’d bought a lighthouse figurine that represented a lighthouse in Buffalo, New York and placed it on a shelf in my studio apartment in Rochester. And then, suddenly, for years, I received lighthouse figurines at every holiday and birthday. By the time I moved into my first house, I had an entire wall shelf of lighthouse figurines.  Along with the lighthouse figurines, people also gave me books about lighthouses.

Later, I used many of these lighthouse books to write a story for middle grade readers about a girl in the Port Townsend Lighthouse. In the story, ten-year-old Ann must put aside her fears to banish the ghost in the Point Wilson Lighthouse. The story is based on the fact that many Coast Guard watchmen and their families have reported seeing the glowing apparition of a woman in a gown at the Point Wilson Lighthouse in Port Townsend. Many say the ghost is Lucy Washburn, who along with her two daughters and husband was a passenger on The Governor.  On April 1, 1921, the ship ran into the West Hartland.  All but eight people survived the wreck—three of whom where Lucy and her two daughters Sadie, age 8, and Olene, age 10.

The story was published with Columbia Kids, the Washington State History Museum on-line magazine for kids.

The story can be seen here.

In my upcoming upper middle grade novel, STAINED GLASS SUMMER (December 2011), one of the characters, five-year-old Sammy has a rock collection.  She collects her rocks on the rocky beaches of the San Juan Islands where the story takes place.  In the story, there is a scene where Jasmine and Sammy build a rock castle together. Jasmine has just been informed she didn’t win the Island art contest and is feeling very out of sorts. However, it is helping Sammy build this rock castle that she shows her that she would like to mentor Sammy.

Interestingly, the young lady who I mentor also has a collection. A horse collection. It was the first thing she showed me on the day we were matched for our mentor relationship.

Collections are an interesting way to show a character’s traits and personalities. If you are considering a collection for your character, ask yourself:

What would my character collect?

Why does my character collect these items?

How did my character’s collection begin?

How does she/he feel about this collection?

What if something happened to my character’s collection? How would he/she respond?

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2 responses to “Characters and Collections

  1. Dawn M. Turner says:

    Great piece, Mindy – I really enjoyed this read ;o)

  2. Mindy says:

    Thanks Dawn! Smurfs seems so “old fashioned” in the world of technology today!

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